Mission #5: Gordon River
On the west coast of Tasmania there is a little town called Strahan – the west coast is also largely made up of Tasmania’s World Heritage listed forest.
Strahan is a massive drive from the Hobart area, about four hours for us from Mount Field. Although repetitive, it does give you this peaceful, secluded feeling along a road of tall trees and silent lakes.
Strahan is a small town with a historic feel and you can tell the Gordon River tourism brings people here.
Many people highly recommended Gordon River so we made space for the stop on our trip. We boarded the Lady Jane Franklin II on an overcast, rainy day in stark contrast to the lovely blue skies and water I had seen in photos.
However, we would not let this ruin our day, and we had grown accustomed to the unpredictable Tasmania weather, much worse than Melbourne.
The sun broke in and out of the clouds as we cruised past lighthouses, commercial fish farms, a part of the river called Hell’s Gates and tiny islands where convicts had been kept and isolated.
After some time you will reach the serene reflections of the Gordon River and Tasmania’s World Heritage listed forest. The cold did not deter many as we stood on the deck to admire the calm waters and greenery. To prevent erosion, the ship moved slowly, drifting along.
The good thing about this cruise is that there a few stops too. The first was at Heritage Landing, with a short walk along the boardwalk through the trees.
The most amazing part of the forest is the Huon pine. As its branches end up in the ground, a new Huon pine can sprout from that branch, thus reproducing by itself. Who knew if all the pines we were staring at were all part of the same tree?
The next stop was Sarah Island, a former convict site. It is a small island, but its history was full of political unrest, brutal lashings and more.
This is what our tour guide told us all about and boy was he a good storyteller, using people on the tour as examples of characters from the past.
As the sun emerged, this once-violent island known as “hell” to convicts, began to look amazingly pretty.
We got to see preserved remnants of buildings from the tannery to the bakery. All throughout the tour, our guide wove an engaging story full of mystery, which he explained at the end by putting all the pieces of the story together.
It was a great end to the day. Our tour guide was part of a performance company separate from the cruises, and so we gave him a donation at the end for his brilliant work. They also perform a play called “The Ship That Never Was” at Strahan, every evening from Sept-May.
Even though the cruise returned around 2-2.30pm, we were due to stay in Cradle Mountain that night, so had to leave town for our next drive.
All in all, I recommend this cruise despite the slow start and possible dreary weather. You’ll be amazed by the calm nature of the Gordon River no matter what, the fresh air of the World Heritage Area and the surprising beauty of an old convict site.
Gordon River Cruises