A Snapshot of Strahan

Visiting Strahan is like visiting the edge of the world. It’s a remote, frontier coastal port with a history of convicts, mining and harsh penal settlements on a savage harbour.

It’s also gobsmackingly beautiful.

In my second column in the current (Aug/Sept) edition of On the Road magazine I wrote about a trip we took to Tasmania a few years ago. It was us, the in-laws and a big hire car, enjoying a mini holiday in the ‘Apple Isle’.

Out an about in Tassie

In my column I briefly touched on our time in Strahan but this town, sitting on the Wild West Coast of Tassie is so gorgeous it deserves a snapshot of its own.

Strahan is about a four hour drive from either Hobart or Launceston but it feels a world away.

It sits on the shore of Macquarie Harbour and has been described as “the last outpost civilisation on the west coast and surely one of the loneliest places on earth.”

In town

Tasmania (June 2009) 149

Strahan is definitely remote.

It’s a place easy to get lost in, meandering along the waterfront, with its boats, craft shops, artisans studios and other charming diversions. In fact that’s exactly what happened to my father-in-law.

He went for a walk and disappeared.

For a while we were too engrossed to realise he was missing. Too busy exploring the Main Street which hugs the picture perfect harbour and backdrop of federation facades.

We eventually found him back at our holiday house. It was a gorgeous log house and he wanted to get back there, so he simply up and walked! I just wish he’d told us!

Back on the harbour View 42 or Hamer’s Bar and Grill offers perfect water views and a great chance to chillax.

Sit back with a glass of Pinot Noir or a Tasmanian beer with some Tassie cheese. Life is good here, much better than it would have been for the convicts shipped here years ago.

On the water

Macquarie Harbour is spectacularly beautiful on a sunny day and dark and forbidding on a gloomy day.

The best way to settle into its moods is on board a World Heritage/Gordon River cruise.

Beforehand check out The Ship That Never Was, on the esplanade, an interactive and compelling show on Strahan’s convict history.

Cape Sorell lighthouse

On the water, Hell’s gates signals the entrance to Macquarie Harbour. The channel at just 120 metres wide, is narrow, extremely shallow and one of Australia’s most dangerous harbours. The two headlands guarding the entrance each have a lighthouse to warn of the dangerous conditions.

It’s said the conditions were so bad at nearby Sarah Island that the convicts named the entrance to the harbour Hells Gates. It’s also thought the name came about due to the enormous rush of the tides through the entrance to the harbour.

Either way this is a formidable area.

Hells Gates entrance
Tasmania (June 2009) 211
Atlantic Salmon fishing farm

It’s tranquil as we cruise by however back in convict days this journey wouldn’t have been so peaceful. Most of the poor sods transported here faced a life of extreme hardship and many never returned.

Docked on Sarah Island

A visit to Sarah Island is a step back in time

Disembarking at Sarah Island is like stepping into a wild primitive past. This once penal colony is filled with ruins and reminders of a harsh past.

A guided tour through this area gives a glimpse into convict days.

Beyond the ruins there are trails and virginal rainforests, crisp air and the sheer blackness of the water of the Gordon River.

Strahan offers an opportunity to feed your wild spirit. Experience the breathtaking Wilderness Railway, take a scenic flight, tackle walking trails and marvel at the wild untouched Ocean Beach, the longest uninterrupted stretch of ocean in the world.

Tassie’s south west is one of the world’s wildest spots. It’d be a crime to come to the Apple Isle and not visit it.

So that’s Strahan, a little taste of the Apple Isle at the bottom of Oz.

Keep shining, keep enjoying those moments and making the most of the journey, wherever you are.

In light and love

Tasmania (June 2009) 145


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78 thoughts on “A Snapshot of Strahan

  1. Fabulous post about an amazing place Miriam. It brought back unforgettable memories from our trip there just last year. The water, the harbour, the views, the tranquility, the history, not to mention the interactive play – they were all highlights. I’m so pleased your work is being recognised and published. Well done😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the inducement to check out Tasmania one of these days. I have heard it is very much like NZ. Especially so those dangerous channels. Whakatane is one I know very well. The history of convicts being deported to Australia is interesting and shocking as some only committed very minor offences. Hopefully, those ones survived and went on to contribute something positive to the development of Australia way back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was a pretty brutal and harsh life. Convicted for stealing a loaf of bread. I’m sure there were a few who survived to prosper though.
      I’d love to get to NZ one day Suzanne, it’s high on my bucket list and so close so hopefully one day. Have a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Miriam I loved reading this. My daughter and her family have just visited Strahan so your wonderful descriptions brought us closer – I shared this with them. My husband and I love Tassie and long to be back there. Favourite places are the Wild West coast and Cockle creek where we camped for a week dining on oysters, mussels and cockles cooked on the fire. Delish and gorgeous place.
    Just love your writing. Thank you
    Heather

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How lucky for your daughter Heather, Tassie’s such an amazing place and, like you, I can’t wait to go back myself. Your description of camping at Cockle Creek was so evocative. Thanks so much for your lovely comment.

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  4. It’s sad to think of how hard life must have been for those poor convicts, but I am glad that the area is now a peaceful and beautiful town. Just goes to show that sometimes things do change for the better. Thanks for sharing this, Miriam.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on your column, Miriam. I loved the reflections of the clouds on the water. Beautiful scenery! You’re showing me some incredible places in Australia! Ahh…too many places to explore on this planet. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Harsh treatment of criminals is a lasting detriment to every culture that has proscribed this as fair. Many souls lost their lives in tortuous ways not fitting to the crime they were charged with. I believe in capital punishment if the crime was especially heinous, but many died in the colonies for stealing a loaf of bread. Very sad. As far as the harbor, very nice! And no, I would only enter this harbor at slack tide!

    Liked by 1 person

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