After a mid-morning walk around the Nut at Stanley we headed towards Stahan. It was a quiet drive through some pretty country roads and small towns. Around lunch time we arrived in Warratah and stopped to eat. Warratah is an old mining town on the edge of the picturesque Hellyer Gorge. It is a small town and there were not many options for lunch.
We settled on the service station, general store and take-away store for a burger. It looked like a dodgey old servo but with little choice we risked it based on Andy’s previous experience there and the burgers were surprisingly good and the owners were super nice.
Continuing on our way, after a quick rest stop, along winding roads through the wilderness and in drizzly rain we arrived in Strahan in the late afternoon just in time to buy our cruise tickets for the following day.
Our hotel room was lovely with a sunken lounge area and a balcony with views over the harbour. A bonus for travellers was the guest coin operated laundry which ensured us clean clothes for the rest of our trip. The restaurant at the hotel had been recommended by a friend and as it was raining we decided out first night was the time to try it out. The staff were lovely and probably due to the rain much busier than usual for a Tuesday night. It serves an awesome buffet dinner with premium quality seafood including fantastic tasting oysters.
The rain from the morning seemed to have followed us from Stanley and settled in for the night. Not only was it raining outside but also inside our room. Onto our bed! Luckily the room next door was free so we moved our things there. We had our fingers crossed that the weather would clear for our cruise the next day.
After a night of heavy rain the clouds lifted for a beautiful brisk sunny morning for our cruise along the Gordon River.
Once everyone was on board we headed out across Macquarie Harbour towards the ocean. As we drew close we could see an old lighthouse sitting on the rocks and a relatively narrow entrance to the ocean. This entrance is historically known as Hell’s Gate. So named because of the danger to the ships navigating the narrow passage into the harbour as well as the fate faced by the convicts on board. This narrow entrance is now closed to commercial shipping due to numerous shipping disasters.
As our captain pointed our craft back towards Macquarie Harbour giving us a good look at Hell’s Gate he asked us what we thought it would be like to be on a convict ship facing the crossing through them. I did think to myself “isn’t that what we are about to do”. But we were in a much smaller ship and not under sail so Captain Andy got us back through safely with no issues at all.
We made our way back across the harbour and towards the Gordon River. The tour had interesting sites along the way with informative commentary from our very knowledgeable Captain.
Due to the rain the previous night we were treated to a rainbow on our travels. This is the first time I’ve had my camera at the ready to capture a rainbow so that was an added bonus. Usually I’m driving in the car or somewhere equally inconvenient.
Strahan was a logging town and when the logging industry was closed except for a few licences for already felled trees it re-invented itself as a tourist destination and an aquaculture hub. The river conditions in the brackish waters at the mouth of the Gordon are just fresh enough to support trout and salty enough for the salmon. Having tasted local salmon the evening before it was interesting to see how the farmers had changed their practise to ensure the ecological sustainability of the river.
We watched the boats feed the fish through water cannons that deliver just the right mix of food for the fish without polluting the water with excess.
As we headed up the Gordon River Captain Andy reduced our speed and cut one of the engines explaining that that the tourist boats made sure to preserve the tranquility of the area and reduce the wash as much as was possible. Their boat is specially designed to minimise the wash and therefore their impact on the area.
You can see from the picture of the wash not only how slight it is but also that the colour of the river water is very interesting. It’s not dirty. In fact the water in Tasmania is some of the cleanest in the world. The colour is due to the presence of tannin in the water. It’s the colour of weak tea.
Our next stop along the way was to Sarah Island. Here we docked and disembarked for a tour of the island.
Our guide was the very entertaining Ingrid who gave a good insight to the history of the island as a convict gaol. As we visited each area of the island inspecting the ruins she demonstrated a deep knowledge of the history and told it as an engaging tale of hardship, humour and the undeniable spirit of those poor souls transported to the other side of the world.
As we moved away from Sarah Island passing along the peaceful river admiring the view around each bend we were then treated to a buffet lunch.
The bar was open and a glass of bubbles was the perfect accompaniment to our lunch. There was plenty of food with the highlight some local smoked salmon.
After lunch were treated to a walk through a part of the rainforest deep within the World Heritage Area, only accessible by boat. There is a boardwalk that has been built to allow visitors to the area to experience the beauty without disturbing it.
The forest is so ancient that there are very few birds as it existed before their evolution. It relies completely on the weather for pollination and it is eerily silent compared to a regular bush walk.
There are trees there hundreds of years old with interesting and unfamiliar fungi.
The rainforest walk was our last trip onto land before heading back to Strahan.
We loved the whole trip particularly how Captain Andy welcomed guests into his cabin for a chat. He was interesting to talk to and he had a great sense of humour. His love of the area was evident and his depth of knowledge admirable. This personal contact with the passengers made the trip all the memorable. It was husband Andy’s third time on the World Heritage Cruise and my first. I would love to return and experience it again. There were so many parts to the trip it’s almost too much for just once.
At the end of our journey we stopped at the local mill to see how the recovered Huan pine is treated. These are trees that were felled and left for some reason during the logging era.
Strahan was a highlight of our Tasmanian adventure. I hope to come back and spend a little longer one day.
Near the end of our trip our Captain mentioned the Hogarth Falls in Strahan. Making the most of the last of the daylight we made the quick walk to the falls. It was a lovely way to finish the day.
We rounded out our day with dinner at the local pub.
Strahan was our last stop before returning to Hobart.
Insert map of the trip here.
Photos in my blog are a mix of iPhone snaps and photos edited in light room from my Nikon D500.
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