A Cruise on the Gordon River

The sky was beginning to lighten and the air was still. Early mornings are precious, a special time wherever you are, as it is the promise of a new day. However Rob is definitely not a fan of early mornings. To him anything earlier than 8am is too early. However today we had a very good reason to be up and about. We are going on a cruise up the Gordon River. Yay!

The lighthouse marking Hell's Gates

A short drive into town and we are on the boat and then off we go. First though we are headed out to The Heads, the place where the Gordon River and Port Macquarie Basin meet the Ocean proper. This are was so turbulent endangering early ships that rock walls were built directly into the waters creating deeper channels by holding back the sand and the channels open for sea traffic.

Salmon Farm feeding time

We got to see some islands and an up close view of a salmon farm feeding by hosing the food onto the farm.

One of the ruins on Sarah Island

It is not long before we sight Sarah Island, a prison island for repeat offenders. We alighted here and had a good walk around. There is a free guide that makes the history come alive. This penal colony was quite brutal place even by prison standards as it was meant for repeat offenders. The island was quite densely populated with trees before the colony started and one of the first jobs the prisoners had to do was cut down every tree on the place, all of it used for building or fires. It was was rather short sighted of the officials as there was no shelter from the winds, as the island lies right in the path of "the roaring forties", coming across from South America. Its bad enough anytime but in the winter it became unbearable for both staff as well as convicts. The trees are now slowly regenerating naturally.

Submerged Huon pine - part of how they reclaimed some land from the sea
One aspect we were taken with (maybe a tie in to Rob's Dutch heritage, is the evidence still visible of the reclamation of the land from the sea in some areas, which is one of the earliest examples of land reclamation in Australia. The method used here consisted of mixed fill consolidated with Huon Pine logs. We quite enjoyed the walks amongst the ruins.

The ruins of the 'luxury' tower complex

Leaving Sarah Island behind us, we head up the Gordon River at last and disembark at Heritage Landing where there's an elevated boardwalk that threads its way through ancient bush or precisely cool temperate rainforest. This rainforest receives an amazing 3-6metres of rain per year!

One of the huge dinner plate fungus on the trees
It was a lovely easy board walk although it was packed and I felt like we were being herded like cattle. In spite of this though there is a rare stillness and a silence to the area - you get a feeling of a lost time. It would be pure bliss to be there all on one's own (or just with your partner!)

Fungus and lichen are everywhere and add a magical touch to the forest

The rainforest is quite magical. It is home to a myriad variety of trees, lichen and birdlife. I am sure there is a lot more than what we can see. You will see the famous Huon Pines, myrtles, leatherwood trees and species of pines found only in Tasmania. The raised timber walkway leads you through the verdant forest to a fallen giant — a 2,000-year-old Huon pine that fell to the ground but continues to support new saplings.

Ancient Huon Log believed to be 2000yr old

Finally all good things must come to an end and the return cruise is blissful as we glide across the harbour waters back to Strahan in the midst of beaut sunshine. We've been blessed with just a tiny glimpse of one of the most unspoiled and wildest areas of Australia, rich in convict history and an unique pioneering spirit. The tour, service and knowledge of the team was excellent. We enjoyed our cruise immensely and we can't recommend it high enough. It is something you must try to do when you visit Strahan.

Looking back up the Gordon River
Did I mention the fabulous buffet that is offered on the cruise?

Happy travels until the next time

Michelle & Rob


  1. It's always nice learning history even if it involves mans barbaric treatment of others.
    The rain forest is definitely enchanting.
    We're learning to space the buffets further apart. Too many of them adds to the waistline but that one certainly looks inviting. LOL.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. We have joined the 5:2 craze to help keep the unwanted kilos from creeping on. This way we can have our cake and eat it too! ;)

  2. trying again ! I don't look that often, but when I do, I enjoy catching up with your travels and your stories - well written. It is good to hear that you are still enjoying your adventures in Tassie. All the best -- see you at the Wedding - Neil and Betty

    1. With a bit of luck maybe we can get together before the wedding.


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