Strahan – for many this name evokes a place with the true spirit of independence – of 19th century piners and miners, and 20th century protesters who stopped the damming of the wild Franklin River.
Strahan is the major harbour town on Tasmania’s west coast, and the place to go if you want to explore the wild and beautiful World Heritage Area.
It has a permanent population of about 900 and sits on the harbour’s northern edge.
From Strahan you can take a cruise across the 50 kilometre (31 mile) length of Macquarie Harbour and along the wide Gordon River. The West Coast Wilderness Railway takes you across a mountain range to Queenstown. Or board a seaplane to search out some of the remaining 1,000 year-old Huon pine and myrtle trees. Another way to explore the area is by four-wheel drive or jet boat the King River.
You can kayak the rivers and waterways, walk the long expanse of Ocean Beach, slide down a sand dune, or explore the forests by all-terrain vehicle.
Huon pine is probably the prime reason the area was opened up, and in the local craft shops you can see elegant artefacts made from this resilient aromatic buttery yellow timber.
In 1815, Captain James Kelly was the first European to navigate the 200 metre opening to Macquarie Harbour, named Hell’s Gates by Sarah Island convicts. By 1822, Sarah Island was operating as a convict station. While it operated, until 1833, it had the dubious reputation as being the worst convict prison in Australia. Strahan was founded in 1877.
Be prepared with all-weather gear because Strahan is all about wild weather.
Strahan is about a 4.5 hour drive from Hobart along the Lyell Highway (A 10), or three hours from Devonport.