At magnificent Cataract Gorge, the bushland, cliffs and ice-cold South Esk River feel a million miles from town. At First Basin there’s a free outdoor swimming pool (November to March), the world’s longest single-span chairlift and Victorian-era gardens. Elsewhere, there are walking and cycling tracks as well as lookouts. Eating options include two cafes and a BBQ area. The whole shebang is impressively floodlit at night.
Two walking tracks straddle the gorgeous gorge (Cataract Walk is level; the Zig Zag Track is steep), leading from Kings Bridge up to First Basin. You can also drive to the First Basin car park – follow the signs from York St to Hillside Cres, Brougham St and Basin Rd.
Just upstream from First Basin is the Alexandra Suspension Bridge. Another walking track (45 minutes one way) leads further up the gorge to Second Basin and further still to Duck Reach, the earliest municipal hydroelectric power station in Australia (1895).