Gordon River and Macquarie Harbour

Cruise the Western Wilderness

WHAT SPARKS YOUR INTEREST?

Bonnet Island Lighthouse
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Joe Shemesh

Gordon River Cruises - Experience an award winning, unique wilderness experience in the World Heritage Area
Image thanks to: Paul Fleming

Franklin River Rafting offer white water rafting tours on the Franklin River, in Western Tasmania. The Franklin River is one of the last truly wild rivers on Earth. A complex system of breathtaking scenery, powerful energy and moments of utter tranquility. Threading its way through Tasmania's unique World Heritage Area, there are few environments in the world as ancient, untouched or majestic as the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Wolfgang Glowacki

Sarah Island Landing - World Heritage Cruises
Image thanks to: Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman

Sarah Island - served as Tasmania's first penal station
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Cybele Malinowski

Gordon River

Descending 570 metres over a 172 km course, the Gordon River is a major perennial river that travels through wilderness world heritage areas of the central highlands, southwest and western regions of Tasmania, rising up below Mount Hobhouse in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National park. Fed with water from Lake Pedder, the river flows to the west of the Gordon Range before emerging through the Gordon Gap and flooding into Lake Gordon where the reservoir is used to generate hydro-electricity.

Franklin River, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Tasmania, AustraliaTravelling west, the river passes through the Gordon Splits, which was once considered unpassable until 1958 when conservationist and photographer Olegas Truchanas navigated the Gordon River via kayak for the first time. From here, the river flows north and due west to reach the mouth of the Macquarie Harbour at Wrights Bay. Due to the absorption of tanning from the button grass growing around the river, the water almost looks like a weak black tea- the kind your grandmother would have with her afternoon apricot slice. The water, however, is completely fresh and perfectly drinkable.

This beautiful wilderness was also home to political controversy in the 1980’s. The Franklin Dam project was a proposed dam on the Gordon River that was never constructed. The movement that eventually led to the project’s cancellation became of the most significant environmental campaigns in Australian history. Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania and Veronica Youd.

Getting There

Strahan is on Tasmania’s remote west coast – approximately 5 hours drive west of Hobart, and approximately 4 hours drive southwest of Launceston. Once you arrive in Strahan, you will find Gordon River Cruises at 24 The Esplanade, Strahan.

Cruises and Tours

Award-winning boating trips from Macquarie Harbour are a popular way to explore the river’s journey through world heritage wilderness, as well as seaplane adventures that include an out landing on the river during the summer months where you can journey into the bordering rainforest where you’ll spot ancient Huon Pines.

The half-day Gordon River Cruise is a popular option to experience this part of Tasmania. Other options include: the Bonnet Island Experience, the Convict Explorer, Discover the Bays, the Afternoon Highlights Cruise and fishing and sightseeing charter cruises in Macquarie Harbour. Audio tours are available in French, German, Mandarin and Cantonese.

Daily cruises depart Strahan. Depending on the tour and which options you chose, select tours may include lunch, snacks, and beverages, as well as a stop at Sarah island where stories from this 19th century penal colony convicts echo from the earth. Sarah Island was once Australia’s most productive shipyard, and approximately 2,000 prisoners, officers and military passed through during its active settlement years.

Other highlights include cruising past modern salmon and trout farms, passing through “Hell’s Gates” (the narrow opening that separates the ocean from Macquarie Harbour, aptly named by convicts arriving at their new home), and getting a gorgeous view of Ocean Beach, Tasmania’s longest beach. Sit back and enjoy the marvelous views of the riverside rainforest of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett.

Things to Do

Aside from the cruises and seaplane adventures, there are many outdoor adventure options for exploring the local terrain. The park is traversed by the Lyell Hwy, with several picnic spots and short walks off the road. Longer trails such as The Franklin River Nature Trail, 60km east of Queenstown has picnic tables, toilets, and excellent walks through stunning rainforest to the Franklin and Surprise rivers. Rafting and canoeing are popular in summer, with day trip options as well as two-week adventures. Image thanks to; Tourism Tasmania & Wolfgang Glowacki.

Environment & Ecology

The Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park is a wild and rugged terrain in the heart of the Tasmanian wilderness. Part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area, this national park contains a cold-climate rainforest and rare trees. Much of the landscape was shaped by ancient glaciers and has a long natural history, with ancient Huon Pines that grow to an age of over 3,000 years.

Look out for The Leatherwood tree, the single most important nectar plant for bees in Tasmania. The Leatherwood honey of Tasmania is a fine gourmet product that is much admired around the globe. Stop at Heritage Landing and explore the forest on a timber walkway that will lead you past species of plants and trees only found in Tasmania. The park supports a wide range of vegetation that is strikingly different than the east coast. Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne.

Where to Eat & Stay

Strahan is a charming historic harbour-side village on the edge of Macquarie Harbour and the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. Restaurant and hotel options are available and a short walk from where you can join a cruise.

What to do

Gordon River

West Coast Wilderness Railway

West Coast Wilderness

Step back in history as you  board a majestic steam train and journey deep into the heritage of the Tasmanian wilderness and hear tales of resilience and triumph over rugged terrain, hardship and adversity. Much more than a railway journey within a wilderness setting, the West Coast Wilderness Railway is a heritage experience that will touch your soul.

When you travel aboard the West Coast Wilderness Railway, you will be well looked after. That care extends to the beginning and end of your journey, and even to those who are simply visiting us at Queenstown Station. Enjoy a delicious snack, coffee, drink or meal at Tracks Cafe, discover the history and heritage of the Railway in our Museum, pick up a unique souvenir of your experience or gifts for family and friends at our Gift Shop and join a workshop tour to get up close and personal with our rolling stock and those who keep it rolling.

Book West Coast Wilderness Railway
AU$

Full Day railway journey

AU$

Full Day railway journey

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It only takes 2 minutes

Gordon River Cruises

Gordon River Cruises

One of Tasmania’s best wilderness cruises

We will show you a side of Tasmania like no other: our award-winning Tasmanian-owned Gordon River Cruises give you a unique perspective on our natural wilderness and the amazing West Coast.

The Gordon River is one of our natural wonders and an amazing location for a wilderness cruise. From deep within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area it winds its way through the rainforest to arrive at the wide expanse of Macquarie Harbour, then through the narrow entrance of Hells Gates into the Southern Ocean.

Your wilderness cruise departs from Strahan, a picturesque historic harbour-side village on the edge of Macquarie Harbour and the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.

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AU$

Full Day Cruise

AU$

Full Day Cruise

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It only takes 2 minutes

GORDON RIVER CRUISE INCLUSIONS:

  • Dedicated on-board guides
  • Chef-prepared buffet lunch
  • First access to the Gordon River ensuring the best possible chance of seeing the famous reflections
  • Three seating options, including the Captain’s Premier Upper Deck
  • Audio tours for international guests (reservation recommended)
  • Two walking tours (Heritage Landing and Sarah Island)
  • Captain’s Premier Upper Deck includes an open bar. Main deck includes a cash bar

The Pedder Experience

Gordon River - West Coast

The Pedder Experience is an adventure that begins in the historic Hobart township and forges it’s way westward following the route of early days’ explorers deep into the wild Southwest of Tasmania, to become immersed amongst endless mountains, placid lakes and mystical rainforests. We have developed an itinerary that steps beyond the norm and which will test your fitness and determination only to reward you with experiences reserved for a special few.

For three days we will lead you bush walking through landscapes unbeknownst to most. One day we will enjoy kayaking on the tranquil Lake Pedder, gliding our way through specular waters. Over a tantalising lunch on a remote island beach, we can sit and ponder what Lake Pedder once was, and perhaps what one day it could be again…

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AU$2265

4 day hike

AU$2265

4 day hike

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It only takes 2 minutes

Lost Mines - Ancient Pines

Queenstown - Lynchford

Board one of our vehicles and head southwest, out of town to the old gold mining precinct of Lynchford and the Tasmanian Special Timbers sawmill where you may meet 4th and 5th generation piners working to mill the timbers that will become magnificent pieces of furniture or crafted items. These people are real characters and a tourist attraction in themselves. ( Please note: sawmill only open Monday to Thursday)
Be guided through the ancient forests to discover old mining relics amongst the world famous Huon and King Billy Pine trees. Admire the pure tannin hued water in the beautiful creeks flowing through this stunning landscape. Marvel at the ferns, mosses, lichens and fungi throughout the forest.

This is a photographer’s paradise!

Take a spooky walk into abandoned Gold and Copper mines. Horizontal tunnels mined in the 1880’s – 1890’s by the original pioneer miners. Find your own piece of copper ore on the ground as you walk through the mine. You may even be lucky enough to spot some silver or gold.

Add or opt for the Franklin/Gordon Wild Rivers national park option. Stand on a No Dams blockade site of the early 1980’s that saved the wilderness and was instrumental in forming the Greens political party.

Arrive back in Queenstown invigorated from the fresh clean air and your encounter with the wilderness and mines that helped shape a nation.

Book Lost Mines - Ancient Pines
AU$65

3 Hour Tour

AU$65

3 Hour Tour

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It only takes 2 minutes

Franklin River Rafting 9-day Expedition

Launceston - Franklin River

A true wilderness experience with the pioneers of the best river journey in the world as voted by Outside Magazine

AU$2895

9 Day Expedition

AU$2895

9 Day Expedition

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It only takes 2 minutes

Franklin River Rafting & Frenchman's Cap 11-day Expedition

Launceston - Franklin River

A true wilderness experience with the pioneers of the best river journey in the world as voted by Outside Magazine plus a climb of Frenchman's Cap

AU$2995

11 Day Expedition

AU$2995

11 Day Expedition

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It only takes 2 minutes

Historic Lake Margaret Hydro Power Tour

Queenstown - Lake Margaret

Explore the century old Hydro Power town of Lake Margaret. See the original machinery still working to produce clean electricity to power the Mt Lyell Mine as it did when first commissioned by the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway company in 1914.

AU$65

2.5 Hour Tour

AU$65

2.5 Hour Tour

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It only takes 2 minutes

Wild West Coast Tour

Cambridge - Gordon River

Experience the wild West Coast of Tasmania, as you fly to Strahan then enjoy the famous Gordon River Cruise.

AU$895

One Day Scenic Flight and River Cruise

AU$895

One Day Scenic Flight and River Cruise

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It only takes 2 minutes

Where to Stay

Gordon River

Ormiston House

West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this luxury guesthouse is within 2 km of West Coast Reflections and Beaches. Strahan Harbour and Strahan Golf Club are also within 2 km.
This smoke-free guesthouse features a bar/lounge, a business center, and concierge services. Free continental breakfast, free WiFi in public areas, and free self parking are also provided. Other amenities include dry cleaning and a 24-hour front desk.
All 5 rooms offer free WiFi, room service, and TVs with digital channels. DVD players, coffee makers, and hair dryers are among the other amenities available to guests.

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Star rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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1 night stay

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Strahan Village

Strahan - West Coast

Situated near the airport, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Strahan Harbour and Beaches. West Coast Reflections and Strahan Visitor Centre are also within 10 minutes.

Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Driftwood Strahan Villas

Strahan - West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this apartment building is within a 15-minute walk of Strahan Harbour and Beaches. West Coast Reflections and Strahan Golf Club are also within 15 minutes.

Star rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Strahan Bungalows

Strahan - West Coast

Situated near the beach, this cabin is within a 15-minute walk of Strahan Golf Club and Beaches.

Star rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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The Crays Accommodation

Strahan - West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this apartment building is within 2 km of Strahan Visitor Centre and Beaches. Botanical Garden Reserve and Strahan Harbour are also within 10 minutes.

Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Wheelhouse Apartments

Strahan - West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this luxury apartment building is within a 15-minute walk of Strahan Harbour and Beaches. Strahan Golf Club and Strahan Visitor Centre are also within 2 km.

Star rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Castaway Holiday Apartments

Strahan - West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Strahan Harbour, West Coast Reflections, and Beaches.

Star rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Penghana Bed & Breakfast

Queenstown - West Coast

Situated in a state park, this bed & breakfast is within 2 km of Eric Thomas Galley Museum and Spion Kop Lookout. Nelson Falls is 10.3 km away.

Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Aldermere Estate

Strahan - West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this apartment building is within a 15-minute walk of Strahan Harbour and Beaches. West Coast Reflections and Strahan Golf Club are also within 15 minutes.

Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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