Walking in Notley Fern Gorge

Notley Fern Gorge is a short distance northwest of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia. Gowan’s Creek flows through a small patch of rainforest, surrounded by moss, fungi and the eponymous ferns. A 1.5 kilometre walking track loops through the gorge.

The walking track crosses Gowan’s Creek on four bridges. Floods in August 2013 damaged these bridges and the track. The Parks & Wildlife Service repaired the track, replaced the bridges and re-opened the circuit in June 2014.

Getting there

For people living in or near of Launceston, this is one of the easiest walks to reach. From the West Tamar Highway, turn onto Bridgenorth Road then right onto Notley Gorge Road. When Notley Gorge Road meets Notley Hills Road, take the sharp left turn. This route is sealed up to and including the car park at the start of the walk.

From the north, Notley Hills Road is unsealed.


The track was steep and slippery in places. It was wide and well-constructed, but a track down the side of a gorge will always be steep, and if the gorge is filled with rainforest it will also be slippery.

The four new bridges were positively decadent by Tasmanian walking standards. They had robust construction, high handrails and mesh decks that defied any attempt to slip on them.


Notley Fern Gorge lived up to its name, showing fern species from the tiny common filmy fern to the enormous soft treefern. Signs along the track identified the more interesting examples and provided details about their lives.


The upper and drier parts of the gorge contained some enormous eucalypts. Lower down, the trees were small, twisted and often covered in moss. The gorge also featured “Brady’s Tree”, which contained a burnt hollow that is reputed to have sheltered the bushranger Matthew Brady. It cannot have been comfortable shelter if he did.


Apart from the ferns, the gorge also supported a fantastic range of fungi. They came in many colours and shapes, not all of them disgusting.


This video shows Gowan’s Creek as it flows through the base of Notley Fern Gorge.


Road Sealed if driving northwest from Launceston. Notley Hills Road, used for a short distance if driving south, is unsealed.
Parking Small
Shelter Yes
Toilets Yes
Latest visit 26th August 2018


Walking Stick

Was recovering from a recent injury and unable to comfortably walk downhill. The track started downhill, so was not able to walk anywhere.


Walked 1.5 km in 1:22. Made the complete loop, and considered it a satisfactory walk.


Walked two full loops and visited Brady’s Tree a third time to see what was taking the Ambler so long.

Should I visit?

If you are happy with the track surface and live within an hour’s travel, you should set aside half a day to stroll around Notley Fern Gorge.

If you live farther away, you can probably spend the same amount of travel time to reach a similar walk through rainforest that also contains a waterfall or other picturesque feature.

If you particularly like ferns or fungi, Notley Fern Gorge may be worth a special visit.

This is a good walk for the colder months when the Tasmanian Highlands may be unsafe to drive or walk in.


Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania – Notley Fern Gorge State Reserve

Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania РNotley Fern Gorge track re-opens

Australian Dictionary of Biography – Brady, Matthew (1799-1826)

All photographs from this walk

Map from this walk

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