The Apsley Gorge Circuit is a scenic bushwalking track located within the Douglas-Apsley National Park, Tasmania. Complete hiking guide including what to expect on the track and at the gorge.
The Apsley River waterhole and gorge walking circuit is a great short walk in the Douglas-Apsley National Park. It’s one of the few walking tracks in the park and offers perfect opportunities for a swim and to enjoy the serenity and crystal clear waters of the Apsley River.
This circuit can be completed as an out-and-back hike to the gorge, or as a longer and more difficult circuit walk. Unfortunately, due to recent flooding during my visit, the full circuit was impossible. However, I’ve still included detailed information about the hike to help you complete it if conditions allow.
How to Get to the Apsley Gorge Walking Track
The Apsley Gorge circuit is located at the Apsley Gorge car park within the Douglas-Apsley National Park. This is just a quick 10-15 minute drive from Bicheno on Tasmania's east coast.
Below I've included a google maps pin to the exact location of the trailhead. You can plug in "Apsley Waterhole" in google maps and it will take you to the same location.
The road into the car park is unsealed for the 8-kilometre stretch after turning off the Tasman Highway opposite the Golf Course.
While unsealed, you won't need a 4WD to get here as any 2WD can handle it.
Car Rentals in Tasmania
Unfortunately, the cost of bringing your own car on the Spirit of Tasmania has skyrocketed in recent years.
Now, it is usually cheaper to rent a car on arrival. I recommend using RentalCars.com in Tasmania to compare rates for different vehicles across dealerships.
(Rentals are limited in Tasmania so it's a good idea to book in advance).
Apsley Gorge Circuit
- Hiking Distance: 6 km return (out-and-back) 8 km if rock-hopping back along the river
- Duration: 2 hours return (out and back), apparently 4-5 hours if rock-hopping
- Elevation: 315 m total elevation gain
- Difficulty: Relatively easy (Tasmania Parks Grade 2 or Grade 3 if taking the river circuit)
The Apley Gorge circuit begins at the end of the National Park car park, where you will also find an information sign with details for the hike. Follow on through the gates and continue on for signs pointing to the Apsley Gorge waterhole.
This first section is very easy and involves a short, pleasant walk through the dry forest toward the waterhole.
Apsley River Waterhole
Less than 1 kilometre into the walk and you will already arrive at the waterhole. This waterhole is located on the Apsley River in a large clearing. This is a popular swimming spot and consequently, most visitors in the park are here just for a quick swim in the waterhole.
However, we were more interested in seeing the renowned gorge further up the river.
This next section involves a river crossing at the northeast side of the waterhole (downstream end). National Park signs and information said that this was just a rock hop, but the water level must have been really high for us as we needed to cross knee-deep water to get to the Apsley Gorge trail on the other side.
Continuing Toward the Apsley Gorge
Upon clearing the river, a sharp ascent begins immediately. This follows on for approximately 2 kilometres through dry, open sclerophyll forest. This section is very easy to follow. There is a fairly wide trail and the ground is mostly hard, rocky and rooty soil.
Watch out for snakes on the trail as we spotted a big tiger snake basking in a sunny spot.
After approximately two kilometres, you'll begin a short and sharp descent back down to the river. The trail pops out next to the bank.
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The Apsley Gorge
The Apsley Gorge is surrounded by steep dolerite cliffs on all sides. There are deep pools and small cascades all the way down the river.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, there had recently been extensive flooding in the area when we commenced the Apsley Gorge walk. As a result, traversing the rocky banks to form a loop back to the waterhole was simply impossible. However, we did try to get as far as we could in attempts to photograph. the small cascade further downstream.
However, if conditions have improved for your visit, this section along the river is supposed to be very scenic. It involves a bit of scrambling and rock-hopping, which inevitably takes a much longer time than simply turning back and following the clear trail you came in on.
The Ultimate Tasmania Travel Resource
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More Hikes and Adventure Activities in Tasmania
I hope this guide to hiking the Apsley Gorge Circuit has been helpful. For more hikes, waterfalls and adventure attractions in Tasmania, make sure to check out some of my other guides below.