14 April, 2021

Follow Tasmania’s call for adventure to Strahan

From breathtaking Gordon River cruises to rainforest train rides, charming Strahan calls for epic adventures.

Three hours’ drive south-west of Devonport and more than four hours north-west of Hobart, Strahan is as remote as towns get in the little state of Tasmania. That’s what makes it special: surrounded by wilderness and water, it’s an exhilarating place to reconnect with nature.

Named after Sir George Strahan, Tasmania’s governor in 1881-86, Strahan exploited nature for a century as the port from where the region’s minerals and Huon pine were exported. It became the reluctant epicentre for protests against the proposed damming of the Gordon River in the 1980s, but the town soon embraced the eco-tourism that followed.

Entrance Island Lighthouse - Gordon River Cruise. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Scott Sporleder, Matador

What to see and do

People come from around the world for a cruise along the Gordon River into the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. The mirror-images of lush, temperate rainforest reflected on the water are astonishing. These cruises also explore massive Macquarie Harbour, from Sarah Island’s early 19th century penal-settlement ruins to the harbour’s Southern Ocean entrance, dubbed Hell’s Gates by convicts.

There are numerous cruises to choose from. World Heritage Cruises’ new Hobart-built catamaran, Harbour Master II, launched in October 2020. It’s loaded with comfort and style: think big windows, interior design featuring marine-inspired shades of blue and natural wood, including a Huon pine bar, and leather seats on the posh upper deck.

Gordon River Cruises’ 2018 custom-built Spirit of the Wild has a hybrid engine that’s switched to quiet electric mode on the tranquil river. Its comforts are best enjoyed on the premium upper deck, where everyone gets VIP views from leather recliners and a private open deck. They also operate a smaller vessel for The Pillinger Explorer tour, taking in the harbour and a ghost-town ramble. Or really treat yourself with West Coast Yacht Charters’ 23-hour voyage along the Gordon, with a maximum of 10 passengers.

West Coast Wilderness Railway. Photo: Hype TV.

Strahan’s other essential experience is the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Heritage trains choo-choo along the line carved through rugged rainforest in the 1890s to link Strahan and the hinterland’s mines. The journey’s now about pleasure, from beautiful views to sparkling wine, with historic stops along the way.

Other natural highs include Henty Dunes, which are up to 30 metres in height and stretch for 15 kilometres. Explore your way, from picnics to hiring a toboggan for a thrilling descent. Or take the easy trail from Peoples Park to Hogarth Falls and conquer one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.

In the evening, catch The Ship That Never Was, Australia’s longest-running play. Based on the true story of a Sarah Island convict escape, this fun show has been playing since 1994.

Strahan village and waterfront. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Scott Sporleder, Matador

Where to eat and drink

Overlooking Strahan’s central village and across Macquarie Harbour, View 42º probably has the best panorama in town. A steep but short walk up the hillside to this restaurant-bar is also rewarded with drinks on the deck, tip-top pizzas or a seafood-rich buffet.

Along the waterside Esplanade, options include the 1936 Hamer's Hotel for public-bar drinks or hearty bistro meals, and casual bites at Banjo's Bakery Cafe including Tassie’s much-loved scallop pies. Get super-fresh fish ‘n’ chips from ever-popular seaside shack The Bay Fish Co, or quality caffeine, cakes and simple meals at The Coffee Shack.

There’s comfort food with a side of history at Tracks on Point, the West Coast Wilderness Railway’s cafe in an old train station. Good feeds can also be found at Thai-leaning Bushman’s, harbourside Regatta Point Tavern and boutique Risby Cove motel’s restaurant.

Strahan Woodworks. Photo: Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman

Where to shop

A remnant of Strahan’s timber industry, Morrison's Huon Pine Sawmill has daily displays and a shop full of products handcrafted from precious Huon pine, such as bowls and cheese boards. Steps away at Wilderness Woodworks, discover fine, often practical Huon souvenirs, from rolling pins to furniture. Tucked inside the same space is The Hidden Providore, offering local gourmet goodies including wine, jam and smoked salmon. Gordon River Cruises’ gift shop has a large range of souvenirs too.

Nelson Falls. Photo: Stu Gibson

What’s nearby?

Besides the former mining centre of Queenstown 40 kilometres west, there’s not much but wondrous wilderness around Strahan. Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, including Nelson Falls, and Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park are both nearby, forming part of the immense Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Montezuma Falls and picturesque Lake Burbury are also about an hour away.


Information included in this blog is correct at the time of publishing. Please contact individual operators for further information.

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