5th January, 2018.
We woke to a fairly sunny morning and hoped it would remain so for our Gordon River Cruise out of Strahan, 40 kms south of where we were camped at Zeehan. As is usual for us, we made an early start to allow for any delays on the journey so we had plenty of time to stop at a scenic lookout with views to the coast. Unfortunately the distance was too great to get a good photo so we made do with some atmospheric clouds.
The waterfront in Strahan was teeming with people, not only for our cruise but also a similar one on the Lady Jane Franklin. Our ship, Harbourmaster, was certainly a change from my last Gordon River Cruise about 35 years ago. This vessel was commissioned only 2 years ago.
Fishing boats moored nearby gave Erich something to focus on while we awaited our boarding.
Lots of cormorants waiting for their breakfast.
Cruising out to Hells Gates, the entrance to Macquarie Harbour, we passed an old settlement on the southern bank, accessible only by boat even today.
This White-bellied Sea Eagle was unperturbed by our presence.
One of the lighthouses at the entrance to the harbour.
This rock breakwater was built between 1900 and 1902 to provide a safe passage from huge seas whipped up by the “Roaring 40s” for ships entering the harbour. It was an amazing feat of engineering for the time.
We safely crossed the narrow opening and then came about to re-enter the harbour. This photo looks back into the harbour, showing the two lighthouses which mark the safe passage through Hells Gates. There is a much wider expanse of water to the left of the closer lighthouse, but it is too shallow for boats to cross.
Salmon farming is a huge industry in Tasmania and particularly here on Macquarie Harbour. We counted about 20 of these enclosures in this one area.
Here the fish are being fed with a highly nutritious mixture developed over many years to ensure the fish receive the correct balance of nutrients for optimal health and growth.
Our first stop was at the former penal settlement at Sarah Island where we had a guided tour that certainly brought to life the deprivation and hardship that not only the convicts endured but also their captors.
There are still remnants of the old settlement on the island.
After a very entertaining one hour tour, we reboarded Harbourmaster and cruised to the mouth of the Gordon River where the captain slowed the boat to reduce the boat’s wash to prevent damage to the banks of this pristine river.
We enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch as we slowly made our way upriver.
Our next stop was at Heritage Landing which is as far upriver as a boat as large as Harbourmaster is allowed to venture.
This group had been rough camping and kayaking in the area and were hitching a ride with us back to Strahan.
The landing consists of a well-constructed boardwalk circuit through the temperate rainforest.
Cruising back to Strahan, we could only be thankful that public pressure back in the 1980s saved what is now a World Heritage Listed area from being destroyed had the Franklin Dam been built.
It was a delightful day.