The Cataract Gorge is a river gorge in Launceston and is one of the region's premier tourist attractions. It is found at the lower section of the South Esk River. The earliest known European visitor to the site was William Collins, who discovered its entrance in 1804.
A pathway, known as the King’s Bridge-Cataract Walk, and originally built by volunteers in the 1890s, runs along the north bank of the Cataract Gorge, and is a popular tourist destination. The original toll house at which pedestrians had to pay to enter the walk can still be seen near King's Bridge on the northern edge of the gorge.
The First Basin on the southern side features a swimming pool, a chairlift, two cafés, a funicular railway and an open area surrounded by bushland. At the bottom of the funicular railways is a small cottage which contains photographs and paintings of the basin and downriver Gorge. The basin itself has created many of myths about its depth: some locals say it is a bottomless pit; a volcanic plug; or that a submarine sent in to find its bottom during the 1960s ran out cable before accomplishing this feat. Measurements in 2011 found the maximum depth is 19m
At the lower end of the gorge, the South Esk spills into the Tamar River going under King's Bridge and another more modern bridge on the way. The King's Bridge was the only bridge leading north out of the city for nearly 100 years.