Cycle Tasmania, Road Ride, Pyengana & St Columba Falls

Cruise up one of Tassie’s prettiest valleys, nibbling cheese and sharing a beer with a pig as you go, before winding through a low range of hills to one of the the state’s highest waterfalls.

Terrain

Smooth sealed road, flat for the first (and last) six kilometres then climbing manageably into low, forested hills to St Columba Falls.

Traffic

The first and last 500 metres are on the Tasman Highway, so you should expect a few vehicles. Thereafter it’s light tourist traffic through Pyengana and up to the falls.

Access

Willows Roadhouse is on the inland stretch of the Tasman Highway between Launceston and St Helens. It is around 140 kilometres from Launceston, and 25 kilometres from St Helens.

Food and Drink

At the Pyengana Dairy Company, the Holy Cow Café has cheese tastings, coffee, cakes, lunches and Tasmanian beer and wine.

Side Trip

You won’t want to cycle up the hill and then not walk to St Columba Falls. It’s about a 10-minute stroll to the lookout platform at the base of the falls - wait quietly at the bridge crossing over Mt Albert Rivulet and you may even spy a platypus.

 

More Details

On the long and hilly haul between Launceston and St Helens, Pyengana is a little treasure, tucked into a fertile, green valley beside the road and yet seemingly centuries from it. Continue up the valley, into the hills, and it’s a short climb to 90-metre-high St Columba Falls, one of the highest and most powerful waterfalls in Tasmania.

The ride begins at Willows Roadhouse, spending just 500 metres on the Tasman Highway before doubling back behind the roadhouse and along the valley through the town of Pyengana - the road signs suggest the town name is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘meetings of the two rivers’ but some locals insist that it means ‘fertile land facing east’. Both seem apt, for here the North and South George Rivers meet, while the land is indeed fertile, with the road rolling through greenery dotted with dairy cows. In such a setting, the Pyengana Dairy Company seems right at home, producing its farmhouse cheeses - clothbound cheddars are its most famous product.

Cheese tastings are available in the attached Holy Cow Café. Less than a kilometre on from the dairy company is the isolated Pub in the Paddock, an 1880s hotel that truly does sit in a paddock with cattle grazing around it. The more famous animals here, however, are the two pigs, known for their beer-drinking prowess - buy one a beer if you fancy a bit of swine gimmickry. The hotel itself is a shrine to pig kitsch and souvenirs. As you continue through the rural idyll of the valley, the hills ahead slowly pull closer. Fortunately, there’s a lovely, large crease through them where the South George River flows out.

The road follows this break, keeping the gradient manageable as it rises through forest with the sound of water below. As you approach the car park at road’s end, look to the right where St Columba Falls (named for an Irish saint) roar down the hillside into the South George River. In the wet of winter, more than 200,000 litres of water charges down each minute. From the falls car park it’s a free-flowing descent back to the valley, where cheese and beer-drinking pigs once again await.

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start the ride at Willows Roadhouse on the Tasman Hwy and ride east.
  • 0.5 Turn right into the C428 towards Pyengana.
  • 2.1 Pass the Pyengana Dairy Company and Holy Cow Café.
  • 2.9 Pass the Pub in the Paddock.
  • 6.7 Enter the St Columba Falls State Reserve.
  • 9.7 Veer left, following the road sign towards St Columba Falls.
  • 11.4 Arrive at the St Columba Falls car park. Turn around here and return downhill along the C428.
  • 12.9 Veer right, staying with the C428.
  • 21.3 Turn left onto the Tasman Hwy.
  • 21.8 Finish the ride back at Willows Roadhouse.
  • Trail map

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    23.03 km / 14.31 mi

    Total Distance

    628 m / 2,060 ft

    Total Ascent

    628 m / 2,059 ft

    Total Descent

    377 m / 1,236 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Easy (Blue)
    Ride Duration: 2-4 hrs
    Fitness Level: Medium
    Terrain:
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    On-Road
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Limited
    Estimated Distance: 21.8
    Elevation Gain: 250
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire facilities
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber

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