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strahan icon

Historic hotel at Strahan
Strahan
West Coast Region
Strahan Esplanade complex
Strahan
West Coast Region
Historic office building
Strahan
West Coast Region
Gordon River cruise boat
Strahan
West Coast Region
Reflections on the Gordon River
Strahan
West Coast Region
Rainforest near Sarah Island
Strahan
West Coast Region
Mouth of the Gordon River
Strahan
West Coast Region
Lighthouse at Devils Gate
Strahan
West Coast Region
Cape Sorell lighthouse
Strahan
West Coast Region

STRAHAN, Macquarie Harbour, Sarah Island, the Gordon River & Mt Sorell

STRAHAN is the lovely, old port on the west coast of Tasmania. It is truly the gateway town to the western wilderness. Strahan is in the centre of the west coast and sits on the wild Southern Ocean. It is a very tourist oriented town with many facilities and much accommodation. There is even a theatre. From Strahan you can tour the sights of Macquarie Harbour and Sarah Island and even cruise up the mysterious Gordon River. You can also enter the pristine wilderness of the South West National Park.

Strahan is 40 minutes from 2 other towns; QUEENSTOWN and ZEEHAN. These form a small pocket of civilization in the western wilderness. From this pocket you are a long way from anywhere else.

Nearby places are described in the WEST COAST REGION, QUEENSTOWN, ZEEHAN, ROSEBERY, CORINNA and the SOUTH WEST National Park pages.


View West Coast in a larger map

FACILITIES at Strahan include a full shopping precinct, plus petrol stations and cafes. There is some accommodation at STRAHAN.

TOURIST information is located on the Strahan Esplanade. The telephone number is (03) 64717622 or the internet contact is www.tasmaniaswestcoast.com.au

For PRIVATE GUIDED TOURS telephone (03) 6472 6800

SIGHTS: Strahan is a pretty, historic port that is very tourist oriented. From the tourist information centre in the Esplanade, you can find out about access options to the Gordon River and the SOUTH WEST National Park. Strahan has a variety of accommodation styles and is relatively close to ZEEHAN and QUEENSTOWN.

I was really impressed by what I saw on both the Gordon River and on the Wilderness Railway. This railway begins at QUEENSTOWN and ends at Strahan. The attractions of Strahan include the:

ROUTES: From BURNIE on the northern coast you drive south on the A10 Murchison Highway to reach Strahan. From Burnie you can also approach the west coast by driving south on B18, which runs parallel to the A10 and joins the A10 near Waratah.

From WARATAH you can also reach Strahan via CORINNA and ZEEHAN by driving west on B23, which at Savage River hamlet becomes C249. On this route you will need to ensure that the Pieman River Punt is operating by telephoning (03) 6446 1170.

From HOBART you can reach Strahan by driving west on the A10 Lyell Highway, which approaches Strahan via NEW NORFOLK, DERWENT BRIDGE and QUEENSTOWN.

From CRADLE MOUNTAIN you can reach Strahan by driving west on C132, which soon joins the A10 Murchison Highway.

From the north west coast you can also reach Strahan by driving south on C249 the Western Explorer Road or the Road to Nowhere. You are, however, warned that this is a very rough 4WD gravel road in the middle of the western wilderness.

You will also need to ensure that the Pieman River Punt is operating by calling (03) 6446 1170.

WARNING: The west coast of Tasmania is frequently cold, windy and wet. You should come prepared for bad weather whatever the season.

Click to see the LARGER PHOTO GALLERY.

  • STRAHAN
  • Macquarie H.
  • Sarah Island
  • Gordon R.
  • Mt Sorell

 

Strahan Tasmania

1/ Strahan is the only port on the west coast of Tasmania. Today it is the centre of a major tourist industry that accesses the Gordon River, Macquarie Harbour and the South West National Park. The photo above shows the Strahan waterfront with its shops, cafes and accommodation venues. The two large boats take visitors to Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River

Strahan Tasmania

2/ There is a lot of accommodation at Strahan. This photo of the Strahan Esplanade shows heritage houses that have been converted into holiday houses.

Strahan Tasmania

3/ At the end of the Esplanade is this sign directing you to the Tower Hill Lookout, where you can get a panoramic view of Strahan.

Strahan Tasmania

4/ In this photo you can see two of the many styles of accommodation at Strahan. On the hill above is a luxury complex, while below is a Victorian era hotel.

Strahan Tasmania

5/ The Strahan Esplanade has a strip of cafes, where you can look out across Strahan Harbour, as you relax.

Strahan harbour

6/ Adjacent to the Strahan Esplanade is the picturesque Strahan Harbour. It is the mooring place for many fishing boats and larger pleasure boats.

strahan esplanade

7/ Harold Street leads North from the Strahan Esplanade to become the B24 Lyell Highway to Queenstown and Hobart.

Strahan Tasmania

8/ This building on the Esplanade is where you can book cruises of Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River.

Strahan Tasmania

9/ This is a view from the Strahan Lookout towards the entrance to Macquarie Harbour. On the left you can see the Regatta Point Railway Station, where you exit the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Unfortunately the track repairs to Regatta Point were not completed, when I visited Strahan in January 2014.

Strahan Tasmania

10/ From Strahan you can also hire float planes to visit many exotic locations in the South West of Tasmania. The contact is www.adventureflights.com.au

Strahan Tasmania

11/ Strahan was once the main harbour of the west coast of Tasmania. It has retained many of the substantial, Victorian, buildings of this era.

Strahan Tasmania

12/ This is the Strahan Customs House. It remembers a time when Strahan was once a busy, sea port serving a large, mining industry.

Strahan Tasmania

13/ This is little house is the cute, Victorian era, police station of old Strahan.

Strahan Tasmania

14/ Just 4 km west of Strahan is Strahan Ocean Beach. Here you can wander for many kilometres on lovely, white sand, as you listen to the surf of the Southern Ocean.

 

cruise boat that tours Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River

1/ Macquarie Harbour is one of the largest and most beautiful, undeveloped harbours in the World. This is the Eagle, which is one of two luxury tour boats that cruise Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River. The boats provide a lovely lunch, plus excursions to Sarah Island and a landing on the Gordon River.

cruise boat that tours Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River

2/ This modern luxury catamaran is the Lady Franklin. It is the other boat that does cruises of Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River.

Mount Strahan from Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

3/ This old video still shows Mount Strahan and Mount Sorell, as seen from near the mouth of the Gordon River. The reflections and colors that I saw on my first visit where truly awesome. Unfortunately, they are not reflected in this poor quality, video still.

Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

4/ This recent photo also shows Mount Strahan and Mount Sorell. Unfortunately, as you can see, the cloud and light conditions were very poor that day.

fish farms at Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

5/ The pure waters of Macquarie Harbour are now used by a large aquaculture industry. This photo shows one of the many fish pen complexes on the southern shore of Macquarie Harbour.

Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

6/ This photo shows the desolate southern shore of Macquarie Harbour.

Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

7/ This old house near Devils Gate is now used by Eco tourist, who want to go to a very isolated place. The only way to access it is by boat.

Devils Gate at Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

8/ This photo shows the narrow entrance to Macquarie Harbour at Devils Gate. Many ships perished here before it was made safer by dredging and the installation of two lighthouses.

Devils Gate at Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

9/ This photo of the outer lighthouse at Devils Gate shows the atmosphere of the scene. You can even see a dull reflection of the lighthouse.

Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

10/ This photo shows the inner lighthouse at Devils' Gate.

Cape Sorell near Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

11/ A few kilometres beyond Devils' Gate is the large lighthouse at Cape Sorell. Its welcoming light showed the way to ships approaching Tasmania from across the violent waves of the Southern Ocean.

Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

12/ This photo shows the approach to the Gordon River. The mountains on the horizon are the Cracoft Hills and the Elliot Range.

 

Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

1/ Sarah Island is within Macquarie Harbour. It was once an infamous convict prison. It is the place referred to in Marcus Clarke's, ''For the Term of his Natural Life''. It is also referred to in the 2012 film ''Van Diemen's Land''. Here from 1823 to 1834 convicts built ships from the local Huon Pine trees. In 1834 the prison was closed and the surviving prisoners were moved to the new prison at Port Arthur. The photo above shows the wharf. On the right is the ruins of the infamous Penitentiary. This was the only stone building on Sarah Island.

Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

2/ This old drawing will give you some idea as to how busy Sarah Island was during the short 11 years that it was a convict prison.

Penitentiary on Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

3/ This is the Penitentiary, the only all brick building on Sarah Island. Unfortunately, it was blown up by an old convict in revenge many years after Sarah Island was abandoned.

Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

4/ This drawing shows that the Penitentiary was once a substantial structure.

Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

5/ This is the ruins of the bakery. A pathway with explanatory panels has been implaced to allow you to easily tour and understand the ruins of Sarah Island.

Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

6/ This pit was once used to mix mortar. The old barracks stood on this spot. As you can see, much of the original vegetation has returned to heal the scars of Sarah Island.

Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

7/ The commandants house once stood here. Over the past 180 years the wind has blown the chimneys down. Behind them you can see the pathway that visitors follow.

Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

8/ This is the older wharf of Sarah Island.

Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour near Strahan in western Tasmania

9/ Women convicts were once held on this lonely rock near Sarah Island.

 

Gordon River in western Tasmania

1/ The Gordon River is one of the most beautiful in Tasmania. It is accessed from Macquarie Harbour by the cruise boats. The Huon Pines trees of the Gordon were once used for ship building. On my first visit I saw really awesome reflections, however on my 2014 trip, the sky was too dark and the wind was too strong. This photo shows the plethora of greens that greets you as you enter the Gordon River.

Gordon River in western Tasmania

2/ The Gordon is a river with many bends. Around each bend lovely, new sights await you. Note how in this photo you can see dull reflections. The strong wind prevented good reflections like you can see in the video stills below.

Gordon River in western Tasmania

3/ This photo shows one of the many hills that greet you, as you wend your way down the Gordon River.

Gordon River in western Tasmania

4/ This photo shows the dull reflections that I saw on my recent 2014 trip.

Gordon River in western Tasmania

5/ This 2008 video still photo shows the same hill reflecting beautifully in the still waters.

Gordon River in western Tasmania

6/ On this bend in 2008 I saw ethereal whiffs of clouds, plus beautiful reflections. It was a truly awesome sight.

trees of the Gordon River in western Tasmania

7/ At Heritage Landing visitors can walk on a pathway into the forest. This is the rich plethora of greens and yellows that greets you in every direction.

Gordon River in western Tasmania

8/ This photo shows the view skyward. Many of the trees in the area are now quite large. However, it will taken 600 years for this forest to mature back to its former glory.

fungus on trees in the Gordon River in western Tasmania

9/ In the forest you regularly see giant fungus. The fungi shown here are about the size of diner plates.

tree cut away in the Gordon River in western Tasmania

10/ This slice of a Huon Pine shows how it takes 700 years to grow to a mature size. Unfortunately, most of the large trees were taken by the piners in the 19th Century and the Huon pines we see today are quite young in comparison.

 

Mt Sorell

1/ Mt Sorell is a twin peaked mountain in western Tasmania south east of Queenstown. This gallery shows photos made on a trip in the summer of 2014. Accessing Mt Sorell is from Kelly Basin Road, which diverges south from the A10 Lyell Highway east of Queenstown.

Lake Burbury

2/ Our trip began at the beautiful Lake Burbury, where we had camped the night. We then bussed south down Kelly Basin Road to our departure point. This photo show Mt Madge, east of Lake Burbury, reflecting back the first light of the dawn. Lakes are usually misty at dawn in Tasmania.

Mt Sorell

3/ We then followed a rough vehicle track to the west and crossed the Darwin Plateau. There are many such tracks in this area, so you need to know which one to take. Note that there is no defined route to Mt Sorell, so this trip is for groups of experienced trekkers only.

Mt Sorell

4/ This was our first close up view of Mt Sorell. The next part of the journey involved a bush bash through forest to the open areas before Mt Sorell. This image shows Mt Sorell and the direction we were taking. Note the very different zones of vegetation in these mountains.

Mt Sorell

5/ We then wended our way up the mountain. The steep slopes in this photo should give some idea, as to how difficult this was.

Mt Sorell

6/ We then ascended the first peak. This photo shows us at the trig point. This image looks towards the many rugged mountains to our east.

Mt Sorell

7/ This image shows the panoramic view to the north. On the left is Mt Darwin, while to the right is Lake Burbury.

Mt Sorell

8/ This image looks to the east. The next range is the Darwin Plateau and beyond it are the many mountains of the Central Highlands.

Mt Sorell

9/ This image looks to the west. In the distance is the southern end of Macquarie Harbour.

Mt Sorell

10/ We then trekked along the spur line towards the highest point of Mt Sorell. Most of the route was on open, but rocky terrain. We had to cross the deep gully that you can see ahead of the trekkers.

Mt Strahan

11/ To our north west we could see the massive peak of Mt Strahan. This is 852 metres high. The early afternoon sun was behind it creating this strange shadow effect.

Mt Sorell

12/ To our east we could see the many peaks of the Darwin Plateau. Mt Sorell was casting a vast shadow to the east at that time of the afternoon.

Mt Sorell

13/ The gully we crossed was so dense that if even included a lovely mountain stream.

Mt Sorell

14/ This image shows the steep north western face of Mt Sorell that we were approaching.

Mt Sorell

15/ This image shows the rugged mountain side that we had to bush bash our way through.

Mt Sorell

14/ This image shows the now close peak of Mt Sorell.

Mt Sorell

15/ This image looks to the north east towards Mt Darwin. It is 1033 metres high. To its right is the Darwin Range, which we had crossed in the morning.

Mt Sorell

16/ This image looks to the west towards Macquarie Harbour. You can see how the landscape can vary between being open and being bush covered.

Mt Sorell

17/ This image looks back across the spur line of Mt Sorell that we had just walked.

Mt Sorell

18/ This image looks towards the summit of Mt Sorell. It is 1144 metres high. To the right is Mt Darwin. This summit would be the end of our journey.

Mt Sorell

19/ This image looks to the north west of the summit of Mt Sorell. You can see a slither of Macquarie Harbour on the horizon.

Mt Sorell

20/ This image looks west towards the vast expanse of Macquarie Harbour.

Mt Sorell

21/ Here you see our trekkers enjoying the vast panoramic vier before them from the summit of Mt Sorell.

Mt Sorell

22/ This image shows the rocky area near the summit. It is treeless, because it is swept by violent winds. Even in summer you must have cold weather clothing with you.

Mt Sorell

23/ This image shows Mt Darwin. This was as close as we would approach it. Beyond it is Lake Burbury.

Mt Darwin

24/ This image shows Mt Darwin reflecting back a burst of subdued light. Note the lovely yellow green colours of the late afternoon.

Mt Sorell

25/ It is the end of a long but rewarding day and our tired trekkers exit the area. Behind them are the rugged peaks of the Darwin Range.

 

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