Strahan Things to Do

  • Main entrance - daytime
    Main entrance - daytime
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  • 2 actors and the 10 shipwrights who . . . ,
    2 actors and the 10 shipwrights who . ....
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  • . . . were joined by various and sundry . . .
    . . . were joined by various and sundry...
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Best Rated Things to Do in Strahan

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    World Heritage Cruise - Gordon River Cruise

    by saraheg77 Updated Sep 25, 2005

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    I found the World Heritage Cruises to be a good deal, so we booked this for our full day in Strahan. There were a couple of options for cruises... the express morning didn't look like the best deal ... the full cruise could either be taken at 9am or 2pm, so we chose the 9am-3pm cruise. This cruise was $65 for adults, $25 for kids 5-14 or free for under 5. A buffet lunch cost an extra $15 or you could bring your own lunch. We went ahead with the buffet and it was very good.

    The cruise took us first out to Hell's Gates, the narrow entry to Macquarie Harbour. We then cruised back in the harbour to Sarah Island where we stopped for a guided tour around the ruins of the island (or you could wander on your own), but the tour guide was very interesting. We then cruised on in to the end of the harbour and in to Gordon River. Along the river we stopped at Heritage Landing where we took a nature walk and had a little nature talk. Overall, it was a very relaxing and pleasant cruise. A cruise is definitely one of the highlights in Strahan!

    Our Cruise Ship! Lighthouse in Macquarie My parents on the upper deck of the boat Sarah Island
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    Take a Walk to Hogarth Falls

    by saraheg77 Updated Sep 26, 2005

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    I found this walk in a 'Great Short Walks' of Tasmania brochure that I sent off for. You can also download it from the website below. It proved to be very helpful as we travelled around Tasmania. This walk was a very nice one and a great thing to do if you are in Strahan for a day or two.

    If you start from the carpark, this walk should take about 45 minutes return. It is a very easy walk along a level track next to a scenic stream and then at the end you get to see this lovely waterfall!

    Hogarth Falls! Me & the 'Great Short Walks' Sign
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    Catch Strahan's panorama from Water Tower Hill

    by xuessium Written Jul 15, 2005

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    Technically not a hill, but more of a crest. There is a flight of stairs behind the Hilltop Motor Inn and you could do a quick climb up to the top to catch a panorama of Strahan's beautiful harbourfront and the Esplanade. Along the way, there are plenty of holly shrubs adorning the steps. At the top of the stairs are the harbourview deluxe rooms of the Inn, so no trespassing is allowed beyond the gates.

    WaterTowerHill
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    Look at all the stately houses

    by xuessium Updated Jul 14, 2005

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    OK, truth be told. There aren't a lot of things you can do here! Was here with a mate and we spent one good evening walking around town and looking at the houses of the folks staying at this far corner of Tasmania. Some of these houses are quite beautiful and stately, with lovely gardens. We were surmissing how long it will take us to work to get a house of the same type back home!

    HousesOfStrahan
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    Photogenic Risdon Cove

    by xuessium Written Jul 15, 2005

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    Honestly, I wonder the boats actually belong to anybody! Anyone who has remotely heard of Strahan must have seen the many postcards featuring Risdon Cove. It's a spot photographed to death - day in day out, the same boats. Don't get me wrong, it's a great place to hike to/take a walk from the harbour and it is really peaceful here, standing on the bridge and overlooking the waters back at the harbour.

    RisdonCove
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    Far End of the Harbour

    by xuessium Written Jul 15, 2005

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    Turn right after hitting the harbour and you leave the main activity centre. I was searching for the Post Office and was rewarded instead with a rather lonely stretch of gravel path that lead me to a rickety wooden pier with a solitary fisherman trying his luck out in this lovely spot. Good spot for photography especially during dusk!

    FarRightEndOfHarbour
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    People's Park & Hogarth Falls

    by xuessium Updated Jul 15, 2005

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    People's Park is about a 20 minutes walk from the harbour and is just opposite Risdon Cove. Lovely place to be if the weather is kind enough. (The weather at Strahan emotes) Take a stroll through nature, with the air thick with the smell of flora and hear the rustle of leaves under your feet! (Try: Hunting for the Sassafras Tree while you're here)

    About 15 minutes walk into People's Park and you will come upon the tumbling waters of Hogarth Falls. Not the world's biggest water tumblers but it's a spot made from great photography!

    HorgarthFalls
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    Strahan Harbour

    by xuessium Written Jul 15, 2005

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    You cannot escape its presence. It's just 10-15 minutes downhill from town and you will find all the hotels, restaurants & delis, adventure tours companies, souvenir shops & photo developing shops all hugging each other along this little stretch of road. There is a little park here where you can take a seat, zone out and watch the world go by. Or you can take a stroll along the pier and go ship-gazing.

    Be-warned: Seagulls will be your constant companions so watch out for guano!

    StrahanHarbour
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    World Heritage Cruise

    by sirgaw Written Jun 2, 2014

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    Please read my additional tips on the World Heritage Cruise; Hell and back – TWICE; Sarah Island; Heritage Landing. This has been done because of the number of photos that I wanted to share on our great day out.

    After checking various on-line travel sites, I decided that the World Heritage Cruise company gave a better cruise than their competitor – and I should point out in all fairness that I have not tried the other operator. Probably what really pushed the ‘deal’ their way was the slightly later sailing of 9am (we are NOT early birds). We had booked on-line some time earlier and turned up the day before sailing to pay and have a look at ‘our boat’. We were impressed with the way a VERY helpful woman had given us a guided tour of the boat that had earlier docked and was getting ready for our days sailing.

    The next morning we arrived at 8.50am and got to our great positioned seat right up the front with a wide-screen TV set above displaying a chart – quite unique. The seats were airliner type with a fold out table and very comfortable. Shortly after we got under way a very informative and expert PA system commentary started up and continued for much of the cruise. It was a spectacular sight motoring away from Strahan on ‘The Eagle’ an all-aluminium 35 metre catamaran cruiser with 3 deck levels. The main and upper decks seat around 210 passengers. In addition there is the wheelhouse deck that also included outdoor seating and, within the catamaran hulls, 2 areas– one a kids zone and the other a library area (didn’t visit either).

    The route took us to our first of so many highlights – Hells Gate (see Hell and back – TWICE) and then we motored along the southern side of the gigantic Macquarie Harbour. At times Lady Gaw, other passengers and I ventured out onto the forward facing and very exposed deck to watch the world ‘fly’ by. The vessel has a top speed of about 30 knots plus whatever wind is blowing it was a case of hang onto your hats.

    The boat slowed down almost to a stop so we could be shown the huge pens for the fish farms that are one of the major industries in the area. We were told how the Atlantic salmon are fed and nurtured to maturity and then harvested for sale – very interesting. I chose that time to be in the wheelhouse watching the captain skillfully at work. In my imagination I thought I’d see a ships wheel and an Errol Flynn looking character steering as we went along and perhaps even singing bawdy sea-shanties. Sir Gaw had been reading far too much fiction – the captain sat in a very comfortable looking seat with a little joy-stick built into the arm rest – looked so easy and in front of him was a battery of display screens giving him important information. A centre consol, almost like they have in aircraft cockpits, had a number of controls to keep the vessel on course, on speed and on everything else. As a fellow Tasmanian, Mr. Flynn would have been suitably impressed.

    As I’d done quite a lot of Google Earth viewing, I knew that we were soon to approach Sarah Island and a chance to see historic ruins of harsh times almost 2 centuries ago. See separate tip - Sarah Island.

    We returned to the ship and soon after our group of some 40 passengers were told that lunch was served and to please take a plate, line up and serve ourselves. Having been in the catering game many years ago, I knew the trick of placing all the salad items first and the cold meat, cold smoked salmon and assorted cheeses last. The way around is to only serve up small quantities of the less expensive salad items, leaving plenty of room on the plate for the ‘good stuff’ – yum. (Maybe I should change my screen name to Sir Lunch-a-lot, or even steal the great name from Harry Seacombe when he was knighted and dubbed himself ‘Sir Cumference’) Some, including Sir Gaw, returned to the excellent buffet for seconds – whatever the brand of Brie was really amazing.

    Perhaps more by design rather than accident we were approaching Heritage Landing some distance up the tranquil waters of the Gordon River and the excellent lunch was forgotten in favour of a rare chance to get up and close to the amazing temperate UNESCO World Heritage listed forest – see separate tip Heritage Landing.

    The return to Strahan wharf was uneventful and there was even a video played on the overhead TV screens that had earlier been displaying our moving position on the chart. Some passengers dozed after all the exercise and others chattered to new found friends – and yes I did see some names and e mail addresses being exchanged.

    Sir Gaw just HAD to get himself into a bit of trouble – one of the crew members had a dual role (they all did). The young woman had done time making coffee etc at the on-board licensed café. Every time we moored or cast off, her job was to use a long pole with an evil looking hook at one end to help snare or untangle ropes used to secure the boat. I just had to ask as she was safely stowing the pole away, “Are you a hooker?” Almost everyone laughed. As we were about to disembark at Morrison’s Saw Mill, the same woman was there to wish us all good by. With a big grin on her face as she saw me coming, she turned her back on me – sweet revenge! (Maybe I should have worn that long pole between the ears.) If she happens to be reading this page – sorry luv, it was meant as a joke.

    It was a very memorable day out and I really cannot find any fault with the boat, meal or crew – they all did a great job.

    There are 3 prices for the cruise – standard, premium and gold and all include the buffet lunch. There is also a peak season afternoon cruise that departs at 3.15pm and returns at around 8.30pm and includes dinner. See web site for current prices and note there is a seniors/pensioners discount (I got 10% off), but you need to inquire directly by phone or e mail.

    The Eagle at Sarah Island wharf This is your captain speaking, we are flying . . . The captains 'office' including coffee and water Salmon fish farm The TV screen showing position on chart
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    Sarah Island

    by sirgaw Updated Jun 2, 2014

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    ‘The Eagle’ motored sedately to our first of 2 off-boat excursions and we were told to walk along a jetty and short distance along a board-walk and to please wait. ‘Disco Dave,’ as he is known and the actor from the previous evenings show ‘The Ship That Never Was’ (separate tip) appeared. For the next hour we were guided through a series of crumbling ruins that made up the infrastructure of the island and its short lived but brutal history and I can say that Dave really knew his history of the island, which is only 600 metres in length and about 160 metres wide.

    The island was the setting for the chilling novel ‘For the Term of his Natural Life’ first published in 1872 and, over 140 years later, still in print. Dave guided us through the terrible times of the remote settlement when the authorities spoke with the cat of nine tails. Men who did not perform their duties correctly were lashed and then lashed again as the pain of previous lashings made work almost impossible. Dave told us how the lashings almost ceased in 1829 and while the settlement was still a convict penal colony, work output increased and more ships were built. Perhaps (my words) it was the start of collective bargaining as we know it today. The island closed as a penal settlement in 1834 about the same time that Port Arthur started its reign of terror and infamy. Over the years of the settlement the island was cleared of nearly all of its natural vegetation, which has sine returned and almost obliterating the terrible past.

    From the excellent Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service on-line guide to Sarah Island

    Sarah Island was proposed by Lt Governor Sorell as a "place of banishment and security for the worst description of convicts" and as such developed the reputation as one of the severest of the penal settlements established during the history of transportation.

    About the photos:
    1, Sarah Island today from ‘The Eagle’
    2. Penitentiary built1828 and had 3 floors each with 3 rooms. Total of about 180 prisoners housed in what became one of the last buildings constructed.
    3. From the web site above – “The goal was erected in June 1826 and enlarged some four years later. It comprised six tiny windowless cells, measuring a mere 0.9 m wide by 2.1 m long and 2.6 m high. The cells were designed for solitary confinement, a form of punishment which became increasingly common during the life of the settlement. Convicts served a maximum of 14 days in these cells on a diet of water and bread. On occassions, each cell held as many as three men serving their "solitary confinement" together! For some, solitary confinement was welcomed as a relief from back-breaking labour.”
    4, Remains of the timber fence up to 30 feet high erected along the entire 600 metre length of the island and placed there as a wind break from the ever-present roaring 40’s that would have chilled men to the bone.
    5. ‘Disco Dave’ in fine voice as a great story teller.

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    West Coast Wilderness Railway (WCWR)

    by sirgaw Updated Aug 31, 2014

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    I’m sorry to say that currently the MAGNIFICENT West Coast Wilderness Railway (WCWR) does not run from Queenstown all the way to Strahan. The line closed down in April 2013 when the Federal Group decided to cease operating the service. After extensive searches and lobbying to local councils, Tasmanian State Government and the Australian Federal Government a rescue package was put together firstly guaranteeing the jobs of key personnel and secondly to get the line re-opened as soon as possible and after much needed infrastructure up-grades and repairs.

    In January 2014 the line re-opened from Queenstown to the strangely named Dubbil Barril (pronounced ‘double barrel’) station.

    I have West Coast Wilderness Railway (WCWR) parts 1 and 2 tips plus a photo page and all three attached to my Queenstown page for further reading on the great wilderness railway.

    I was told that infrastructure work continues along the line and the WCWR will return to Strahan and Regatta Point next year (2015). I would like to return and do it all over again and top marks to everyone connected to the railway.

    Photo above taken from the moving water vantage point of another great but totally different journey - World Heritage Cruise - as we passed the Regatta Point station complex. The same station that will have to wait a little longer to be back in full swing.

    Update

    The railway have announced that trains will be running all the way from Strahan to Queenstown and even some days, a day return. Commences December 2014, so get on line and book the amazing journey.

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    Wilderness Railway

    by al2401 Written Apr 2, 2011

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    The West Coast Wilderness Railway is a 35 Km Rack and Pinion or ABT Railway running from Queenstown to Strahan. The railway uses the fully restored 100 year old Steam Loco's that ran on the original rail line that was built for the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Company.

    While the engines are original the carriages are all brand new and the interiors are made from Tasmanian timbers. When taking a trip on the railway, passengers are given a description of the history of the ABT from the on board Staff

    The ABT system (patented by Rinecker ABT & Co. of Wurzburg of Germany) uses a cog wheel in the engine which engages a toothed central rail to enable the engine to climb the steep inclines of some of Australia's most rugged terrain.

    The railway follows the King River Gorge for most of the journey.

    Steam locomotive - Wilderness Railway Turning around - one man power Tasmanian Oak detailed carriage King River Gorge Lynchford Station
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    Cruise the Gordon River and Macquarie Harbour

    by al2401 Written Apr 2, 2011

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    The waters of the Gordon River meander down from their source in the Central Highlands. They pass through an ancient, beautiful but inhospitable land of rugged mountains and temperate rainforest before emptying into the magnificent Macquarie Harbour and then to the sea.

    You are in the famous Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park at the mid northern area of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The park was created after Australia's largest conservation battle of the 1980s - the battle to save the Franklin from the Hydro Tasmania proposed hydro-electric power scheme. The statuesque Huon Pines have also benefited from the creation of the park. These slow growing trees were valued for their timber.

    The Macquarie Harbour is more than 110 square miles of natural, safe harbour which opens to the seas through the narrow and treacherous Hell's Gates. It is also the site of the ruins of the convict prison on Sarah Island. Tasmania's famous salmon and ocean trout farms are also in the area.

    A great way to see the area is from the Lady Jane Franklin II.

    http://www.gordonrivercruises.com.au/

    Mouth of the Gordon River Hell's Gates at the entrance to Macquarie Harbour Fish farming in Macquarie Harbour Huon pine cones - the world's smallest Lady Jane Franklin II
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    Sarah Island

    by al2401 Written Apr 2, 2011

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    Sarah Island is the site of one of Australia's worst penal colonies and was in operation between 1822 and 1833. The prison was established to house the worst convicts and those who had escaped from other settlements. It is an isolated island, separated by wild seas and surrounded by wild inaccessible country and was ideally suited for its purpose. The surveyor who mapped Sarah Island concluded that the chances of escape were "next to impossible".

    There were a number of escape attempts - the most famous being Alexander Pearce who managed two escapes. On each occasion he survived by cannabalising his escape-mates.

    In an aim to be economically viable the governor of the time, William Sorrell, established a shipbuilding industry using the Huon Pines (an ideal timber for this purpose). However, the island was soon cleared of this valuable timber.

    The conditions for the prisoners were extremely harsh. Since no food could be produced on the island malnutrition and scurvy were rife. The convicts were so crowded they were unable to sleep on their backs in the communal barracks. Ergot, a wheat fungus, was added to the bread to make it go mouldy so it could not be stored for escape.

    Records show that in 1824, a prisoner killed anther so that he could be executed rather than endure the torment.

    The prison on Sarah Island was finally closed in late 1833.

    The ruins that remain today are known as the Sarah Island Historic Site which is part of the larger Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

    The island can be visited, by ferry, from the town of Strahan. It is often included in a Day trip to the Gordon River.

    Sarah Island Sarah Island Sarah Island Sarah Island
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    Heritage Landing

    by sirgaw Written Jun 2, 2014

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    The second of our off-boat excursions was to ‘Heritage Landing’, some distance up the Gordon River from Macquarie Harbour and located within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It consisted of a timber landing built so that boats like ‘The Eagle’ could moor and in turn allow visitors the opportunity to get up as close as possible to the magnificent cool temperate rain forest and along a specially constructed and safe board walk.

    During our hour or so (I don’t think anyone except the crew were timing out time on shore as we were all so enthralled by what we saw) we walked along a slightly elevated board walkway, which was covered in wire netting (chook wire to the Australians), which gave it a non-slip surface. The walkway had various interpretive panels giving descriptions of the plants we saw, including the very slow growing Huon Pine so prized for its long lasting characteristics – the trunk only grows 1mm per year and trees several thousand years old are much prized by timber professionals. Another panel introduced us to the distinctive Tasmanian Leatherwood the large white flowers of which attracts bees in spring and summer and who produce delicious and unusual honey (we tried a sample in Queenstown and bought a large jar).

    Our group of 40 or so passengers included a TV film crew and presenter for an Australian travel show. Sadly the presenters 9 or 10 year old daughter took a bad tumble when she was trying to walk on an unprotected by wire mesh and VERY slippery timber walkway. TV dad to the rescue without cameras rolling – thank goodness. The young girl was returned to the ship and recovered with TLC from the very professional crew.

    We heard the ships siren giving us fair warning that we were shortly to be under way and so we all scurried back to the boat. Really there was no great rush as a crew member did a ‘sweep’ of the board walk to make sure he had all his charges on board – after a few disasters of left passengers on the Great Barrier Reef it was a very wise move on the part of the great crew of the World Heritage Cruise company.
    For further reading, can I strongly suggest: Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

    Heritage Landing Fungi everywhere Leatherwood and moss So green . . . . . . and wet.
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