A day out for residents of Launceston a hundred years ago might well have included a train trip to Denison Gorge, near Lebrina.
The gorge had been a popular tourist attraction since the 1890s, soon after the opening of the railway line between Launceston and Scottsdale in 1889.
The area was developed by the owner at the time, and soon special excursion trains were running to take people to the gorge.
The area later was taken over by the government.
The train to Denison Gorge left from the station at Inveresk.
When passengers reached Denison Gorge, they could walk down lush paths and steps through leafy ferns and shady trees to the bottom of the gorge where seats and bridges had been erected.
At one stage, a tea room was in operation, run by the wife of the station master, but most people brought a picnic with them.
Not long after Denison Gorge was opened to the public, on March 23, 1892, the Mayor of Launceston, Alderman Sutton took 161 guests by special train to Denison Gorge for the day to mark the end of the Tasmanian Exhibition 1891-92.
Guests included several politicians and the mayors of Launceston and Hobart as well as local dignitaries.
The Official Record of the Tasmanian Exhibition reports "A large marquee had been erected at the Gorge and was tastefully decorated with flags and evergreens while a 'recherche' luncheon was spread beneath its shelter."
During the summer months, hundreds of people took advantage of the special excursion trains to visit Denison Gorge for the day.
It was a considerable revenue raiser for the railways but vandalism was a constant problem, as visitors helped themselves to ferns and other plants.
The outbreak of war and the development of motor transport undoubtedly contributed to the decline in popularity of the destination.
In the 1920s there were few excursion trains but day trip tickets on scheduled services were still possible.
The gorge had become overgrown, trees had fallen over the tracks and fires had swept through the area.
In 1922 the Lilydale Council asked the Commissioner for Railways to carry out improvements, provide new picnic tables and wrote that lavatory accommodation was urgently needed.
Railway officials were talking up the possibility of trying to restore the gorge's popularity but it seems that motor transport to more accessible areas was becoming popular and the improvements needed did not eventuate.
Today the area is overgrown with black wattles and there is little trace of a northern tourism hot spot.