15 kilometres south of Burnie lies the Guide Falls Reserve, a beautiful place for picnic or BBQ.

Guide Falls - Reserve Entrance
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Entrance to Guide Falls Reserve in north west Tasmania

Guide Falls: the Sights and Sounds

by Carol Haberle

Clean toilet facilities, and a large, all-weather barbecue shelter are provided, with free to use gas barbecues. Picnic tables are located at both the upper and lower car park areas. One can walk along a beautiful tree lined nature walk, only a 10 minute (320 metres) easy walk to the Guide Falls waterfall from the lower car park; or drive to the upper car park, which takes you to a viewing platform at the top of the waterfall. Also located at the top are steps, though steep, which lead down to the bottom.

Guide Falls - Reserve
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Everything you need for BBQ or picnic at Guide Falls Reserve, just bring your own food!

An Amphitheatre, Rushing Water the Symphony

Guide Falls is a small, amphitheatre-style waterfall, with a small tier at the top and then the largest part of the falls drops into the naturally formed amphitheatre with steep cliffs surrounding, with continuing cascades located further down the Guide River. A deep hole directly below the falls provides for a great swimming hole in summer. The falls have water year round but are most spectacular in winter and spring when Tasmania’s rainfall is at it greatest. In winter one can stand on the viewing platform and feel the spray as the waters gush over, the falling water a symphony of nature’s sound.

Guide Falls - Waterfall
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Top: view from the viewing platform at top of Guide Falls
Bottom: view from walking track at bottom of waterfall

Filled with Nature…

The Guide River here at the reserve is home to platypus, native eels and introduced trout, native ferns adorn the riverbanks and in springtime the river reflects the golden glow of flowering wattles. It’s great for the kids who can go hunting bugs, and not only the ‘land crawlies’, as the Guide River is also home to many unique species of aquatic bugs: the mayfly, the sideswimmer, the water penny, the whirligig beetle and so many more.

Guide Falls - Reserve Nature
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Nature abounds in the Guide Falls Reserve

Fresh Water Sponges

Another unique creature which lives here in the Guide River is Spongillidae, or commonly known as Freshwater Sponges. Freshwater sponges are crust like, branched, or clumped, with fragile, soft textures and here in the Guide River they can be found underwater under rocks and logs, looking like small globs of soggy grey soap, then turning green. Freshwater sponges are much smaller and less spectacular than their salt water relatives, but these sponges give us an important message about clean fresh water.


 

Often confused with algae, aquatic plants or fungal growth because of their simple construction, freshwater sponges were not recognised as animals until well into the 18th century. Each sponge is actually a little like an underwater community, a colony of very specialised cells, which all perform different functions, yet share the same skeleton, each working at their own speciality while keeping the whole community functioning. These sponges reproduce as gemmules (or larva), a highly resistant budding body produced when times are tough and the river is drying out. The gemmule settles onto an underwater rock or log where it grows into a new sponge. This aquatic animal is covered in microscopic holes, through which it acts as a filter as it sucks in the life-carrying river water, the bacteria and organic matter feeding it as it filters the waters.

Guide Falls - Freshwater Sponges
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Guide River, home to unique freshwater sponges.

A Must Do on Your Travelling Itinerary

If in the Ridgley area, or travelling to the West Coast, a trip to Guide Falls is a must. Native wildlife, pademelons, wallaby and echidnas are often seen, and the walk through the wattles in spring is truly magic, with other wildflowers in abundance. The Guide River is easily accessed here for fishing (inland fishing license is required). Guide Falls is an established recreation area maintained by the Burnie City Council, and popular with locals and tourists alike.


 

Directions: From Burnie, follow the Bass Hwy to its intersection with Mount St. Travel south on Mount St until it joins with Mount Rd/Ridgley Hwy (B18). Follow this road into the town of Ridgley where just past town turn right onto West Ridgley Rd (signs indicate to turn here for Guide Falls).

Guide Falls - Cascades
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Top: misty spray after heavy rainfalls
Bottom: lower cascade on the Guide River

All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography.
You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards
Carol writes feature articles for this website about all things Tasmanian.
If you’d like Carol to visit you, please contact Think Tasmania.

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Map: Guide Falls, Tasmania…