Philosopher Falls: The Hidden Jewel Of The Tarkine

Philosopher Falls, in our opinion, is one of the most beautiful walking trails in all of Tasmania.

Philosopher Falls is located in the outskirts of Waratah in Western Tasmania, around 60 minutes drive from Burnie.

The walking trail follows a portion of the old water race that was used to supply water to the now abandoned ghost town of Magnet.

The unusual waterfall name originates with James “Philosopher” Smith who found large deposits of tin not far from Waratah at Mount Bischoff in 1871.

It’s a great place to get a feel for the ancient and rugged Tarkine wilderness, without having to tackle any difficult terrain.

Philosopher Falls Rainforest Walk

The entrance to the walking trail at Philosopher Falls looks like nothing more than a dark shadowed gateway into the forested underworld.

Dark hole into the rainforest walking trail
The dark void into the Philosopher Falls walking trail

Standing in the car park, surrounded by sunlight, gazing upon the dark portal leading into the rainforest certainly sets the tone for the walk to come.

But taking the plunge through this dark threshold reveals a cathedral of greenery unlike any place you’ll ever witnessed. What was once dark, quickly changes to a world of emerald green.

Lush green rainforest covered in moss and ferns
Green everywhere!

The 90 minute return walk snakes its way through the ancient and stunning Tarkine rainforest, which is one of the rarest forms of rainforest on Earth.

The Tarkine is one of the few places you’re able to experience a Gondwana rainforest. This doesn’t sound impressive, until you know that the species present in the Tarkine existed on the ancient supercontinent Gondwanaland, which split up over 180 million years ago.

Large tree stump with cavity
The fairy house

The real beauty is in the details. The subtle but slightly different shades of green. The myriad sizes and shapes of moss. Tiny mushrooms and fungi, often only millimetres in size.

Each turn presents a whole new scene to enjoy.

Giant fallen tree found along the walking trail at Philosopher Falls, Waratah, Tasmania
Giant fallen tree found along the walking trail

This section of forest is truly a beautiful part of Tasmania and you’ll not want it to end. But eventually, you’ll reach the incline and make your way towards the foot bridge.

Crossing Arthur River

After the switch back incline winds its way down the hill, you’ll come to yet another gorgeous part of the walking trail.

Curving walking trail heading down towards a river
The inclined trail curving down towards the foot bridge

A little foot bridge in the middle of the forest crossing you over to the other side of Arthur River.

The foot bridge is nice place to stop for a rest. You can enjoy the sounds of water running over the tiny cascade and enjoy the fresh Tasmanian air.

The air is clean, crisp and full of moisture. It’s the freshest air you’ll ever breath, I promise. Breathing becomes less about survival, and more about enjoyment here.

The foot bridge also signifies you’ve made it to around half way through the walking trail.

Foot bridge over the Arthur River
Foot bridge over the Arthur River

Leaving the foot bridge, the walking trail becomes uneven and rocky as it follows the course of the river.

After a short distance, the walking trail starts veering away, becoming increasingly narrow as it wedges itself between a rock wall and the drop into the canyon below.

Rocky walking trail through tall and thin rainforest trees
The walking trail is rocky and uneven in places
Small waterfall along a rainforest walking trail
Small waterfall along the walking trail

The trail takes you through some pretty sections of moss covered forests, small cascades, and views out over the canyon and the rainforest beyond. Eventually you’ll arrive at the stairs.

The Staircase

If the walking trail to Philosopher Falls hasn’t got the blood flowing in your legs yet, then the stairs certainly will.

There are just over 200 steps to traverse before you reach the viewing platform.

Winding stairway through the rainforest down to the waterfall viewing platform
A small section of the winding stairway to the waterfall viewing platform

Don’t panic though, the views on the way down are wonderful. So take it slowly, stop regularly and enjoy the panorama you get from atop the staircase.

Philosopher Falls Viewing Platform

While Philosopher Falls is unable to rival the likes of Montezuma Falls or Liffey Falls, the falls themselves aren’t the main attraction. The walking trail into the falls is the main attraction.

That’s not to say the waterfall isn’t impressive, because it is. It’s just can’t match the size or grandeur of other waterfalls in Tasmania.

Still, the scenery from the viewing platform and the falls are certainly not going to disappoint you.

Viewing platform overlooking Philosopher Falls, Waratah, Tasmania
Waterfall viewing platform

Jutting out high over the canyon, the viewing platform gives you an almost panoramic view of the surrounding rainforest covered rock walls.

And if those views don’t impress you. The falls directly in front of you cascading down the rock wall of the canyon and into the hidden depths of the green abyss below surely will.

Heavy winter water flows going over Philosopher Falls, Waratah, Tasmania
Heavy winter flows at Philosopher Fall

Fungi Paradise

Keep your eyes open. This is one of the best places for fungi hunting in Tasmania. Many of our favourite mushroom photos were taken here.

The keen eyed walker will spot the varied shapes, sizes and coloured fungus all along the walking trail.

Remember to look up to the trees and behind fallen logs. Fungus often grows and hides in these spots.

Entry Price

Entry to Philosopher Falls is free.

Opening Hours

Philosopher Falls is open 24 hours.

Facilities

  • Car park

Location

Click to view map to Philosophers Falls.

When To Visit

Year round, although winter will increase the greenery of the forest and flow over the waterfall, but autumn will increase the chances and variety of fungi.

Additional Information

  • The walking trail can experience deep puddles and mud after wet weather. Waterproof hiking boots are recommended
  • The trails looks to continue on, but once you’ve reached the staircase down to the falls, you’ve reached the end of the walking trail
Wet and muddy walking trail to Philosopher Falls, Waratah, Tasmania
The walking trail can be wet and muddy

Recommended Equipment

  • Hiking boots
  • Wet weather gear
  • Water
  • Food

Safety Advice

  • Snakes are present in the area. I’ve witnessed Lowland Copperheads on the walking trail, sunning themselves on the dark rocks. They’re generally timid and will leave before you approach, but keep an eye out for them and watch where you step
  • The walking trail after the foot bridge has a steep drop off to one side and no fences or safety barriers

Conclusion

We love the walking trail at Philosopher Falls. The scenery is truly breathtaking. It’s easily one of the most beautiful places in Tasmania, but for some reason, also seldom visited.

You’ll often find you have this stunning area of Tasmania’s Tarkine wilderness all to yourself! So definitely plan a visit.

Nearby Attractions

  • Waratah
  • Whyte Hills Lookout
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2 thoughts on “Philosopher Falls: The Hidden Jewel Of The Tarkine”

  1. A wealth of knowledge. Well explained and researched. I have now read every post of this blog and have learnt so much. Thank you Adam.

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