Holwell Gorge | Don’t Stop At The First Waterfall

“After a little scouting of the second waterfall at Holwell Gorge, we had only two options…

1. Climb down the right side of the cliff and drop to a ledge that looked like a possible exit route.

2. Traverse to the left, climbing under a fallen tree, and attempt the loose bank to the base. It’s safe to say, we were in a real predicament…”

5km return

Grade 3 – Some Experience Recommended (Grade 2 to the first waterfall)

2.5 hrs

Elevation Gain

Entrance Fees

Carpark, Information Board and Picnic Tables

Recommended Equipment
Water Bottle and Snacks


Holwell Gorge was the first of the hikes we’ve completed in Tasmania and it was nothing short of exciting! Very little information came to light when researching this one. All we could gain from Google was the possibility of visiting two waterfalls, and that a landslide in 2013 resulted in the track becoming a little treacherous… which obviously made us all the more intrigued and eager to get started.

Over crowding tree ferns covering the Holwell Gorge Trail in Tasmania

Located in West Tamar, Holwell Gorge State Reserve is approximately 50 minutes west of Launceston. The nearest town being Beaconsfield, a 12 min drive to the carpark. Access is gained from Holwell Road, where you’ll find a turn off to Holwell Gorge Track – the turn off is hidden among the trees so be sure to have your eyes peeled. A smooth 1.6km dirt road will take you to the carpark where an information board and picnic tables are the only facilities. So, make sure to have a potty break in Beaconsfield or be prepared to find a big tree.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the hike, let’s start with some advice! If you have any form of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), make sure to wear good shoes and bring along extra water and snacks. Because once Holwell Gorge Falls is reached, the fun begins. A sign will inform you of another TWO waterfalls located further into the abyss of Holwell Gorge, with a strong warning to explore at your own risk… We didn’t know of this and chose to only take a 700ml bottle of water and NO FOOD, what a poor decision on our behalf!

Experienced walkers only sign at the beginning of the Holwell Gorge Falls trail in Tasmania


At the carpark, the beginning of the trail is indicated with a sign stating the hike to be for ‘experienced walkers only’. Take that as you may andcontinue along the obvious and well formed, undulating path covered in Tree Ferns for a leisurely 15 min stroll.

Walking through the overgrown ferns that litter the Holwell Gorge Trail in Tasmania

That is all the hardship you must endure before arriving at a modest 5 to 6m sloping rock known as Holwell Gorge Falls. It was an unusually hot day in Tasmania and we had planned to swim along this hike, showering under the cool cascade of water… But this was not to be, the Island State had suffered the same drought stricken year as the Main Land. In turn, leaving us with nothing but a murky pool of algae green water as our only option… no thanks!

Holwell Gorge Falls in Tasmania with water only trickling over the peak


Now it’s time for shit to get REAL. Located at the base of Holwell Gorge Falls, nailed to a tree on the hiking trail, is a make shift sign giving information for not one but two additional waterfalls to explore. This is where the FOMO we explained earlier comes into play. A further 40 min one way trek was indicated by the sign, and while we were not equipped to continue our journey – unknowing of what lay ahead – adventure always prevails against smart decision making. We suggest you continue IF you’ve got sufficient supplies, don’t repeat our mistake!

The trail to Holwell Falls – the second waterfall along the Holwell Gorge Track – commences quite the same as the first 15 minutes, yet the trees become taller and the rugged surroundings thicken as you venture deeper into this cool temperate rainforest. It is far more beautiful from this point, with bright greens flooding the scene and the ever growing denseness of Tree Ferns almost taking over.

Candace pulling a funny face underneath a fallen tree on the Holwell Gorge hiking trail

True to the first signs’ warning, the difficulty increases from here on in. The hiking trail becomes slightly off camber, and the sudden appearance of smaller tracks veering deep into the forest may leave some in a confused state (cough – Dylan). Navigation is fine if you keep the dried up river in sight and stay en route with the most obvious track available.

The hiking trail following the creek at Holwell Gorge Falls surrounded by tree furns

We – Dylan – only succumbed to a small amount of confusion at one tricky little section that he believes would’ve had the worlds best navigators asking questions. That tricky little section being when you reach the bend in the river – approximately 20 mins from the first waterfall – where a small stream once flowed through the gully. A track that looks relatively formed leads you straight ahead, though the PROPER track veers to the left running parallel to the river. In a couple of the hairier sections further along, pink tags have been tied to trees to assist in guiding you towards the final destination.

Split in the track that is Holwell Gorge, making a confusing choice to continue on the right hiking trail
Example of the pink tags placed throughout the Holwell Gorge hike in order to direct you

You will know very soon after this point if you’ve stayed on the right track, as a few humungous trees have come crashing down in what was surely a monstrous storm. These have been left laying across the path and are hard to miss. Cut outs for footholds and ropes have been kindly left on the larger of the fallen trees to help navigate your way over their massive trunks.

Climbing over the fallen trees on the Holwell Gorge walking trail in Tasmania
Swinging on a guide rope placed along the Holwell gorge hike in Tasmania

Now we get to a ‘Don’t be like Dylan’ moment. He believed he was above the need for the handy ropes, so in an attempt to express his Tarzan like skills, he decided not to use them. And where did that leave him? On his butt after tripping over the log and almost falling down the steep embankment. Not some of his best!! Unfortunately I was laughing too hard to get a good photo, but here is a shaky one from my iPhone.

Dylan falling over on the fallen trees laying across the Holwell Gorge hiking trail in Tasmania

You can expect the trail to steepen and become increasingly tiring before reaching the turn off to the base of Holwell Falls. As the sign at Holwell Gorge Falls suggested, it took us 40 minutes to arrive at the second make shift sign nailed to a tree. This one indicated to turn left to get to the base of the second waterfall, yet the track kept going to the right. We decided to follow the track right and see if we could find the third waterfall. As our nature suggests – and something you’ve probably guessed by now – we are suckers for an adventure. So off to the Upper Falls we went!

Climbing the stairs to the Upper Falls at Holwell Gorge, Tasmania
Very average wooden sign stating you've reach the second waterfall along the Holwell Gorge Track


A steep 10 min climb – aided with a couple of stairs – takes you to the top of our final destination, Upper Falls. There was barely any water trickling over the rocks and upon reaching the trail’s end, we decided we weren’t ready for our adventure to be over. So we came up with a grand idea to fulfil our desire to explore uncharted territory.

Standing at the top of Holwell Gorge Falls, wondering how we were going to climb down

Now for another tip from us…

Go back the way you came! Have a wander around the top of Upper Falls, then follow the track back to the Holwell Falls sign. From there, take the trail descending to the base of Holwell Falls before returning the way you came to your car.

Our bright idea led us down a different path. We decided it would be fun to walk down the guts of the falls and see if we could get back through the dried up river. Our biggest problem was that we still hadn’t seen Holwell Falls… but it couldn’t be that big, right? Boy were we in for a surprise!

Navigating our way down the dried up river running through Holwell Gorge, Tasmania

We had no trouble getting down Upper Falls as they are quite small and support a gentle gradient. The river bed was also relatively easy to navigate, with larger boulders available to jump across when met with a pool of water too stinky to even think of walking in. After approximately 15 to 20 min we were faced with Holwell Falls, that’s when our track choice became quite the pickle.

We were standing over what the internet has approximated as a 50m waterfall – although Dylan would insist it’s lucky to be 15m. The banks to our left were near impossible to scale and getting lost was not exactly what we wanted at this point in time. However, trying to jump down a sheer cliff drop didn’t sound all that appealing either.

Looking over Holwell Gorge Upper Falls in Tasmania before making the difficult descent down to the base

We managed to climb down the first half of the falls easy enough as it sloped nicely. But then the matter of the cliff came into play. After a little scouting, we found two options… 1. Climb down the right side of the cliff and drop to a ledge that looked like a possible exit route. 2. Traverse to the left, climbing under a fallen tree and attempt the loose bank to the base. After scouting our first option, we realised we only had option number 2 to consider as the drop was far too big and mossy.

Climbing down the dried up waterfall known as Upper Falls at Holwell Gorge

Traversing the cliff we went. Luckily, Candace has some rock climbing skills and Dylan is just a mad man so we made it easily enough. The bank was soft with previous floods and landslides, yet sloping just enough for us to successfully slide down to the base of Holwell Falls.

Standing at the base of Upper Falls in Holwell Gorge, relieved after climbing down the monster waterfall


Thankfully, the track was easy to find from the base and we made it back to the second sign easily enough. We don’t particularly recommend this exciting yet stupid way to anyone unless you’re a professional rock climber and have ropes to assist you. We were extremely lucky the Gorge was so dry, as attempting that traverse with wet rocks would have been impossible. A trek back up the river would have been on the cards for us in that case!

Slipping between the dense tree ferns while hiking to Holwell Gorge Falls in Tasmania

Returning to the carpark the way you came brings you an approximately 5km return hike. We completed this in 2.5 hrs (including our near death experience), which is a good time guideline to follow if visiting all three waterfalls. Be sure to check the previous weather situation before embarking along the track to the second and third waterfall, floods are quite common in this area and the trails could be much more difficult in extreme wet weather.


The two closest towns to Holwell Gorge are Beaconsfield (12 min drive) and Beauty Point (16 min drive). Beauty Point is located on the Tamar River and offers a few more luxury accommodation options as well as a Tourist Park near the water. Beaconsfield offers a few free campsites in the surrounding areas for fully self-contained campers or some sneaky overnight stays. Our pick of the bunch was a free campsite 30 min south-east at Swan Point which offered a free overnight stay at the beaches carpark. Just be sure to use the toilet before 9pm as they close overnight.


If you too forgot to take food on the Holwell Gorge hike, a massive lunch will be much needed. Beaconsfield and Beauty Point have a couple of choices that will surely satiate that appetite. There is also an express IGA in Beaconsfield.


Depending on your energy levels after tackling the Holwell Gorge Hike, a couple of options are open for the rest of your day. There are plenty more hikes in the surrounding area BUT there are also many Wineries… Check out Free Two Roam’s post for more on wineries, as well as other Tamar Valley delights.

Or for something completely different and one that will intrigue our fellow foreigners, why not check out the Platypus House In Beauty Point?


Holwell Gorge is found by venturing 1.6km down a dirt road just off Holwell Road. Located in West Tamar, it is an easy 50 min drive north-west of Launceston or a 50 min drive east of Davenport… Making it a great way to begin your Tasmanian adventure.

We hope you enjoy the Holwell Gorge Hike as much as we did, let us know what you thought in the comments below and provide pictures with some water flow if you’re lucky enough to find some!