Strahan is a fantastic jumping point for exploring the west of Tasmania. There are plenty of outdoor adventures to be had, an abundance of fresh food, and a dark-yet-rich history. Surrounded by national parks and wildlife refuges, Strahan is the perfect destination for the naturalist and those seeking a relaxing escape from the daily stress of modern life. Adventure to the end of the world, see the rarest of animals, stand at Hells Gates, and take the selfies to prove it.
This small village of farmers and fishermen is surrounded by 19 national parks and regional reserves. Tasmania is 45 percent national wildlife parks and preserves, so it’s hard not to stumble upon one. Image thanks to: Paul Fleming
Strahan sits on the northern end of Macquarie Harbour on Long Bay. The Macquarie Harbour is the terminus for the King River in the north and the Gordon River in the south. Enter the bay through Hells Gates, so-named for the shallow channel that made ship navigation…well, hell. Image thanks to: Paul Fleming.
Strahan is rapidly becoming commonplace on many a bucket list for a remote, adventurous getaway. Gordon River Cruises will provide a seemingly endless day of breathcatching views, complete with a tour through the notorious prison on Sarah Island. Explore the dunes in an ATV or take a evening cruise to Bonnet Island for a viewing of the Fairy Penguins. Whether your preference is to dine on fresh seafood, sip sparkling wine, or hunt for art in Kutikina cave, Strahan is a gem of a seaside community thriving with outdoor activities.
The seafood in Strahan defines “fresh.” Fresh, too, are the paddock-to-plate fruits and vegetables coming straight from the rich Tasmanian soil. Dining ranges from bistro-casual to chef-inspired, from tasty takeaway fish and chips to sumptuous sassafras lamb.
Where there’s good food, you can expect good drink, and the locals love theirs. The region produces world-class Pinot Noirs and sparkling wines, which thrive in the cool Antarctic night breezes. If you prefer a little more bite in your spirits, gin and whisky are crafted locally, too. But be careful not to sleep the day away--there’s too much to miss. Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett.
Tasmania is home to some of the most unusual and exotic wildlife on Earth. Its roster of rarities includes 12 bird species found nowhere else, the ever-popular platypus, as well as creatures most have not likely ever heard of, such as Quolls, Pademelons and Echidnas. We should also mention here the Quolls’ distant, yet more widely known cousin and largest carnivorous marsupial in the world, the Tasmanian Devil.
Adventure seekers will enjoy white-water rafting along the waterfalls and rainforest of the King River. Just to the south, Franklin River boasts class six rapids. The Henty Dunes offer an amazing experience for those seeking the thrill of ATV duneing and sand surfing.
Looking for something a little more relaxing? Settle in on the “Stormbreaker” yacht for a cruise on the calm waters of the Macquarie Harbour or the pristine and picturesque Gordon River. The lunch and dinner cruises include kayaks and fishing gear for your convenience. Not slow enough? Hire a bike and explore Strahan or take a meditative walk along the Esplanade, stroll to People’s Park to catch the trailhead to Hogarth Falls, a 40-minute return journey. And there’s always golf--hit a quick nine at the Strahan Golf Club before diner and drinks. Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Masaaki Aihara.
Strahan is different from its larger counterparts in so many ways. This small, isolated seaside village has its share of souvenir shops, galleries, ice cream and sweeteries, but if you’re looking for the latest in Tassie fashion, a day trip to Queenstown or Launceston might be in order.Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett.
Every town and every port hosts some kind of annual affair, event, or celebration to mark their place in the community. With a critical mass of less than 700 full-time residents, any big events typically take shape in the larger, more populous cities.
With Queenstown only 40 km down the trail, consider visiting for the bi-annual “Unconformity Festival.” As the name suggests, this is: “No Ordinary Place. No Ordinary Festival” for 3 days in October, skipping those pesky “odd” years. Past favorites of the festival included a Traditional Smoking ceremony with an Aboriginal elder, and the Ya Pulinginya welcome dance. Then there was the participatory live art performance which took festival-goers on a twilight excursion to Cake Mountain, where they were encouraged to become one with ancient history and eat cake- Cake Mountain that is--one bite at a time. There was also storytelling, guided tours, drum circles and an after-hours club for the more traditionalist.
Targa Tasmania, a world-class international motor sport, passes through town in mid-April. It’s the longest tarmac rally in Australia with 2,000 kms of closed roads for a lucky 300 selected cars and drivers. The race breaks overnight on the second-to-last leg of this six-legged race, kicking a little life into the Strahan taverns.
For one night, and one night only in May, the Mountainfilm Festival at Cradle Mountain is the centre of attention. MovieMaker magazine thinks it’s one of the “Coolest Film Festivals in the World.”
Then there’s Tas Whisky Week in August – a full 7 days where the distillery doors are open to the public. Restaurants, bars, barns, and stables are all open for spirit tasting. Pop your head in to see if you can’t find the master brewer. Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne
Getting to Strahan is half the adventure; remember it’s the journey that counts. There are regular flights from Melbourne to Launceston, (272 km) and Devonport (223 km) in the north and Hobart (298 km) to the southeast. From Sydney and Brisbane, fly into Launceston. There is bus service from all major cities, but travel time is slow, taking over 10 hours from Launceston and 7 from Hobart. Consider renting a car if your time is precious.
Alternatively, take the Spirit of Tasmania, a Superfast Class III ROPAX ferry from Melbourne. Traverse the Bass Strait while dancing the night way in the disco, or catch the latest Mountainfilm Festival winner in the theatre. And when you awake in Devonport, you’ll have your wheels with you.
Day-trip from Queenstown (42km) aboard the West Coast Wilderness Railway to see the Gondwana rainforest, home to the Huon Pine that gave Strahan its name as a lumber port. The steam-train tour ends at the historic harbourside Regatta Point Station in Strahan.
All destinations have their highs and lows, and in this regard, Strahan is no different. The low season is May to September. Prices plummet and some shops close for the season. Some bushwalking tracks may close due to snow. The high is the holiday season when the beaches are at their best in December and January. The shoulder seasons host a flurry of fellow Aussies vacay-ing for the Easter holiday. April is also harvest time, so bring your appetites and your cameras to catch the vineyard colors. If you visit in September or October, remember to bring your galoshes. Annual rainfall is about 1,521 mm.