At magnificent Cataract Gorge, right at the city centre's edge, the bushland, cliffs and ice-cold South Esk River feel a million miles from town. At First Basin there’s a free (chilly) outdoor swimming pool (November to March), the world’s longest single-span chairlift (adult/child one way $13/8; 9am to 5.30pm, to 4.30pm in winter) and Victorian-era gardens where peacocks strut. Elsewhere there are walking tracks and various lookouts. Eating options include a cafe and the Gorge Restaurant.
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, from where another walking track (45 minutes one way) heads further up the gorge to Duck Reach, the earliest municipal hydroelectric power station in Australia (1895).