Apsley River Water Hole and Gorge Walk with KIDS
I’m on a bit of a mission at the moment to prove that hiking can be fun with young kids. When I found a list titled “60 Great Short Walks” published by Tasmania’s National Parks and Wildlife Service, I was more than a little excited. In fact, I was so excited that I sneakily planned our whole trip to Tasmania around this list.
The Apsley River Water Hole and Gorge Walk was one of my favourite hikes in Tasmania. The scenery was beautiful and the kids really gave this one a go themselves. At the ages of two and four years, they can’t walk the whole way and we don’t expect them to.
However, Mr Four did the steepest parts all by himself (with dad hovering right behind) and a fair chunk of the easier sections before hopping in the carrier. Miss Two even gave the hard sections a good crack before her legs got too tired and she retired into the carrier with some biscuits.
We were both so proud of their efforts and watching your children gain confidence right before your very eyes is quite possibly one of the best things ever.
What to expect on the Apsley River Waterhole and Gorge Walk with kids
Name: Apsley River Waterhole and Gorge (#52 of Tasmania’s 60 Great Walks)
Location: Douglas-Apsley National Park on the East Coast of Tasmania, Australia
Distance: 2.8 km one way (nearly 6 km return)
Classification: Level 3
Time: 2 to 3 hours return
Notes: The information above is taken from the Tasmania National Parks and Wildlife Services website. I tracked this walk longer at 7.17 km return from the car park using the Samsung Health app on my phone.
The walk sets out on an easy ten minute path down to the Apsley River waterhole. This spot is extremely picturesque and ideal for a quick dip to cool down upon return. I say quick because the water is freezing cold. You could easily spend half a day here just lounging around in Summer months.
After crossing the waterhole by negotiating a path over the rocks, the walk is dry as you head away from the river into open forest. The initial ascent is made somewhat easier by a series of carefully placed rocks and once you are at the top, the hardest part is over.
The walk is fairly flat for a while before descending very gradually as you head back towards the Apsley River. There is a steep decent down into the gorge which is again, made easier by the rocks. I wouldn’t let young kids do this section by themselves as there’s a big drop off if they fall.
Chilling out at the gorge before heading back is mandatory. The gorge is magnificent with high dolerite cliff walls, huge boulders to lounge around on and waterholes and waterfalls just waiting to be discovered. As you sit on your chosen boulder taking in the picturesque surrounds, you really feel that you have found a little piece of untouched paradise in this pristine part of the world.
We would have stayed a lot longer had we brought more snacks and had there not been grey clouds looming in the sky.
When it’s time to head back, you can either return the way you came like we did; or you can boulder hop and scramble along the sides of the partially dry river bed until you reach the Apsley River Waterhole that you crossed at the beginning of the walk.
There is no clear path if you choose to return this way and it will add a few hours to your hike. You shouldn’t attempt this in recent rain and there is a good chance you may have to retrace your steps and cross the river to the opposite bank when you come across a section that is not safe to pass through.
We completed this hike in four hours return. This included a stop at the gorge for around 45 minutes where we fueled up on food and had a great time exploring and throwing rocks. This hike was the perfect combination of enjoyment and exercise!
How to get there:
The Apsley River Waterhole and Gorge walk is located in the Douglas Apsley National Park on the East Coast of Tasmania. Drive along the Tasman Highway and around 4km north of Bicheno (which is a lovely place to stay by the way), you turn into Rosedale Road and drive another 7km on mostly unsealed road. You can easily get through here in a standard 2WD vehicle although the road is apparently subject to flooding.
Where to stay:
There is walk in camping near the Apsley Waterhole (this was free at the time of writing however check out the National Parks website here before you go just in case).
You can also stay in nearby Bicheno which has some beautiful beaches and a few great attractions.
A National Park entrance fee is required to visit Douglas-Apsley National Park. You can buy a single day pass or if you are exploring more of Tasmania, an 8 weeks pass which gets a whole family into all of Tasmania’s National Parks is better value for money. Passes can be purchased online here.
Visiting With Kids
The Apsley River Waterhole and Gorge Walk is a fantastic place to visit with kids. Even if you don’t manage the gorge walk, you could easily spend half a day at the Apsley River Waterhole just a ten minute stroll from the carpark. You will need to supervise them as per normal around the water and rocks of course.
At the ages of two years and four years, my kids are easily occupied at any waterhole that has rocks. Probably because I give them free reign to throw rocks as far as they can. There are plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities and they may get a chance to spot an endangered native fish called the Australian Grayling.
There are toilets located at the beginning of the hike in the car park and you will need to carry your rubbish back out with you. There are no facilities once you commence the hike.
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