Rectangle: Rounded Corners: STRAHAN & GORDON RIVER CONTINUED

The town was also a stopping place on the former Strahan to Zeehan railway & the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Unfortunately, the wilderness railway was closed for track maintenance work at the time of my visit.

The next day I boarded the cruise that would take us across the Macquarie Harbour, out to the Hells Gates, back to Sarah Island & up to the Heritage Landing on the Gordon River.

At Hells Gates, which is a narrow, wild, shallow & dangerous channel, less than 500m wide, that provides safe passage into the shelter of the harbour, we ventured into the wild sea for a short distance & thankfully although the day was overcast, the weather was fine & sea calm.

From here we made our way to Sarah Island, deep in the harbour & the first Tasmanian penal settlement established in January 1822. It was intended to strike fear into the heart of convicts – this was one of the harshest convict prisons ever created, even more so than Port Arthur.

Our guide gave us a great tour that lasted for an hour, of the remnants of the penitentiary, bakehouse, tannery & the commandant’s slipway, giving an insight into the cruelties of convict life. A stark contrast to the incredible beauty of the area.

 Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell wanted a penal settlement that would be economically viable enough to cover the costs of having established it in the first place, so Sarah Island was ideal, like the land surrounding Macquarie Harbour, it had a valuable natural resource: huge Huon pines that were perfect for shipbuilding.

We boarded the cruise boat again to head up the Gordon River to Heritage Landing, where we disembarked for a short walk to see the ancient giant Huon Pines along with some incredible rainforest.

It was interesting to note that all the water in this area is tea coloured because of the tannin that is present. This is because it is leached out of the peat substrate upon which certain vegetation communities (such as buttongrass, tea-tree scrub and rainforest) grow.

 The stopover in Strahan & the Gordon River was really interesting & helped me to better understand the history of the area & its important significance as a World Heritage site for wilderness. A must see & well worth the drive out to the west coast.