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.
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 witness. What was once dark, quickly changes to a world of emerald green.
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.
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.
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 footbridge.
Crossing Arthur River
After the switchback incline winds its way down the hill, you’ll come to yet another gorgeous part of the walking trail.
A little footbridge in the middle of the forest crossing you over to the other side of Arthur River.
The footbridge is a 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 breathe, I promise. Breathing becomes less about survival and more about enjoyment here.
The footbridge also signifies you’ve made it to around halfway through the walking trail.
Leaving the footbridge, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. The fungus often grows and hides in these spots.
Entry to Philosopher Falls is free.
Philosopher Falls is open 24 hours.
- Car park
Click to view the map to Philosophers Falls.
When To Visit
Year-round, although winter will increase the greenery of the forest and flow over the waterfall, autumn will increase the chances and variety of fungi.
- The walking trail can experience deep puddles and mud after wet weather. Waterproof hiking boots are recommended
- The trails look to continue on, but once you’ve reached the staircase down to the falls, you’ve reached the end of the walking trail
- Hiking boots
- Wet weather gear
- 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 footbridge has a steep drop off to one side and no fences or safety barriers
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.
- Whyte Hills Lookout