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.
Smooth sealed road, flat for the first (and last) six kilometres then climbing manageably into low, forested hills to St Columba Falls.
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.
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.
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.
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.
23.03 km / 14.31 mi
628 m / 2,060 ft
628 m / 2,059 ft
377 m / 1,236 ft