Leven Canyon

Leven Canyon is a 250 metre deep ravine that is part of a wildlife corridor from the coast to Cradle Mountain. The Leven River runs through 300-metre limestone cliffs carved through the Loongana Range, down to Bass Strait.

The canyon is a little-known tourist destination in Tasmania. However, the viewing platform offers spectacular views of Black Bluff, the canyon itself and the surrounding areas. The viewing platform is only a short walk from the car park and only regular shoes are required.

Leven Canyon is Tasmania���s deepest limestone gulch, with challenging terrain. The Canyon floor footbridge was made locally and components lifted in by helicopter. Black Bluff, seen from the Cruickshank Lookout, is the region���s first peak each winter to have a covering of snow, due to its exposure to the prevailing westerlies. Enough water runs through the Canyon every day to satisfy the thirst of a major city. About 45,000- 70,000 kilolitres of water flush through the Canyon daily, equivalent to water consumption for 350,000 people.

The canyon has barbecue and picnic facilities, and there are a number of walks in the general area. The Penguin Cradle Trail, a bush walking track developed by the North West Walking Club, crosses the canyon.

Cruickshank Lookout Walk

Enjoy breathtaking Canyon views from the lookout, 275m above the Leven River. Dominant plants nearby are the ���tough characters��� of the eucalypt family ��� Smithton peppermints, which grow on less fertile soils. On the ground are small trigger plants and greenhood and other orchids, in season. 20 mins return. Easy walk, all ages.

Forest Stairs

Take on the challenge of 697 stairs ��� or walk just past the start and soak up the forest peacefulness from a seat. Watch or listen for birds like pretty pink robins (11 of Tasmania���s 12 endemic birds are found in the reserve). Amazing small ferns grow here, like batswing, fishbone waterferns and kangaroo ferns. 45 mins return full circuit including steep terrain and steps.

Edge Lookout Track

Several vegetation communities come together here, from wet forest to plants of the drier cliff edge. The huge tree is a whitetop stringybark. Coral fungi grow on rotten logs, usually in autumn. At the Edge Lookout, you can see the Canyon walls up close. 30 mins return. Easy walk, all ages.

Fern Walk

Grand old treeferns feature here, up to 5m tall and 150-years-old. Covering the ground is mother shieldfern, which grows ���babies��� on the tips of fronds. This kind of wet forest is home for small mammals like the dusky antechinus, eastern pygmy possum and long-tailed mouse. 20 mins return; easy walk, all ages.

Preston Falls Walk

Delightful 25m waterfall that plunges into the shady depths of a gorge and is surrounded by blackwood forest. 15 mins return, easy walk.

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Canyon Floor Walk

Drive to start of walk, off Loongana Rd. Downhill track leads to the boulder-strewn Canyon Floor ��� enjoy it from the Leven River footbridge. Experienced walkers can continue on to Devils Elbow, 1 hr return from footbridge, challenging walk. This is part of the 80 km Penguin-Cradle trail, linking the coast to Cradle Mountain. 30 mins return to Leven River, moderate walk.

Winterbrook Falls Track

Track starts from the Smiths Plains Road Tramway Track car park, accessed via South Nietta Rd, about 15km south of the Canyon. Walk along an old tramway to a King Billy pine forest up to 2000-years-old, and magnificent falls cascading 200m from Black Bluff peak. Track not regularly maintained or well-marked. 5 hrs return, challenging walk.

Black Bluff

Rewarding walk through an alpine garden to a 1339m mountain summit dominating North-West Coast skyline. Views from Cradle Mountain to the Great Western Tiers. Spectacular Paddys Lake is below the summit. Track starts at Taylors Flats, off Loongana Rd. It is not regularly maintained or well-marked. 6-7 hrs return, challenging walk.

Whitewater activities

The river is characterised by technical grade 4 rapids followed by several waterfalls (8 m and 10 m), after which the river flattens considerably though still has some large grade 3 rapids. To start, seal launch from the rock ledge on the Leven Canyon walking track across the footbridge over a ravine. Follow the track for 50 m or so before heading right to reach the river at a rock ledge 3 m above a deep section of flat water.

Head down the first rapid (Devil���s Elbow) which has a grade 4 final drop, a series of technical rapids ensues for the long straight from Devils Elbow to the waterfalls, the second last drop being 3-4 m between boulders followed by a grade 5 drop that leads in to the pool above the first waterfall. The first waterfall is 8 m and can be inspected from a ledge on the left. Ensure your line is far enough right to avoid a ledge about 4 m below the lip. The second fall is a spectacular 10 m clean drop. Exit at Dobson���s flat hops farm (brick pumping station on river left) on Lowana road, 8km south of Marshall���s Bridge over the Leven.

Where is it?

42km south of Ulverstone. From Ulverstone, follow the Castra road to Nietta, then Loongana road to the Leven Canyon reserve.

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