STRAHAN AND WEST COAST

The land where time began

WHAT SPARKS YOUR INTEREST?

Aurora Australis - Southern Lights and stargazing from Strahan
Image thanks to: Dietmar Kahles

Hogarth Falls - part of Tasmania's 60 Great Short Walks and walking distance from Strahan village. You may spot a platypus if you visit at dusk.
Image thanks to: Pete Harmsen

Henty Dunes - Sliding down these dunes will provide hours of fun for all ages.
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania and Dan Fellow

West Coast Wilderness Railway - Step back in time and relive history as you board a majestic steam train and journey deep into the heritage and breathtaking scenery of the Tasmanian wilderness.

Henty Sand Dunes - Take a stroll around the dunes or for the adventurous, hit the dunes in an ATV or sandboard them
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Joe Shemesh

King River Steam River & Raft Experience - King River Rafting
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett

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

STRAHAN AND WEST COAST

Strahan is the gateway to the untamed southwest wilderness of Tasmania – the land where time began. It’s known for its outdoor adventures, casual friendliness, abundantly fresh food, and a dark-yet-rich history. Surrounded by national parks and wildlife refuges, Strahan is an optimal destination for the naturalist, as well as photographers, and those seeking a quiet, laid-back, relaxing escape from the bustling cities in the northeast and south. Adventure to the end of the world, see the rarest of animals, stand at Hells Gates, and take the selfies to prove it.

Region

Strahan waterfront, Tasmania, AustraliaThis small village of farmers and fishermen is surrounded by national parks and regional reserves–19 to be exact. Tasmania, an island roughly the size of Iceland, 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.

Things To Do and See

Considered by some to be the “loneliest” place on Earth, Strahan is actually teeming with extraordinary experiences just waiting to be had, and as such, Strahan is rapidly becoming commonplace on many a bucket list. Catch a light-hearted tour through the notorious prison on Sarah Island. Hit the dunes in an ATV or take a evening cruise to Bonnet Island for a showing of the Fairy Penguins. Whether your preference is to dine on fresh oysters, sip sparkling wine, or hunt for art in Kutikina cave, Strahan is a rugged little seaside community thriving with outdoor activities.

Food and Drink

Kiss a Fish Cooking School, Tasmania, AustraliaThe seafood in Strahan defines “fresh.” Fresh, too, are the paddock-to-plate fruits and vegetables plucked 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.

Adventure and Wilderness

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.

Pademelons (Thylogale billardierii) - Mt Field National Park, Tasmania, Australia

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.

History

While Strahan was a notable mining and timber port in the 19th and early 20th centuries, its history runs much deeper. The Southwest Wilderness is considered the birthplace of humanity. Discoveries of Aboriginal cave art and artefacts dating nearly 20,000 years lend plausibility to the theory.

Fast-forward a few millennia and European explorers discovered Long Bay in 1815. Soon after–relatively speaking—the British established a penal colony of bloodcurdling report on Sarah Island. It was known for torture so peculiar that some convicts killed again to assure a quick trip to the gallows.

Reportedly, one convict escaped twice, each time with a few mates. He was captured twice – always alone. After the second capture, he admitted to cannibalising them. Nothing like having a good mate for dinner, eh?

Shopping

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.

Accommodations

Strahan offers many lodging options with more than 30 hotels within a 20km radius. Choose from Earth Check certified properties shown to exceed best practices for waste, water and energy use, to a garden-side self-sufficient apartment complete with kitchen and laundry facilities. Many hotels in Strahan have views over Long Bay and some even offer parking for your boat.

Roughing it: There’s plenty of camping in the surrounding state parks. Most require reservations and all require an entry permit. Staying a while? Buy a Holiday Pass and experience Tassie’s famous natural and rugged beauty for a full 2 months and enjoy free use of the Cradle Mountain shuttle bus for the cost of a good bottle of wine. Beware of the Pademelons, a.k.a. the Rufous Wallaby, though; they’re pretty bold and may try to steal your sandwich if you’re not watching.

Local Tips

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.

West Coast Wilderness Railway (formerly ABT Railway), Tasmania, Australia

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 Here and Around/Climate

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.

What to do

STRAHAN AND WEST COAST

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

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Full Day Cruise

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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

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.

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AU$

Full Day railway journey

AU$

Full Day railway journey

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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.

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AU$65

3 Hour Tour

AU$65

3 Hour Tour

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Franklin River Rafting 9-day Expedition

Launceston - Franklin River

For many people, Tasmania’s famous Franklin River is synonymous with wilderness conservation. The Franklin is one of the world’s last great wild rivers and it forges through the rugged south west of Tasmania, through deep gorges, quiet pools and magnificent temperate rain forest. This expedition provides a true wilderness adventure, an experience we pioneered back in 1978. Regardless of the river level, you will be in good hands as our professional guides have an exceptional safety record. Despite the remoteness, our guides will ensure that the preparation of delicious meals will exceed all expectations. Any descent of the Franklin is demanding and while previous rafting experience is not required, some wilderness knowledge, along with a sound level of fitness, is essential. Join on us on this special wilderness experience, named the best river journey in the world by Outside Magazine.

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AU$2895

9 Day Expedition

AU$2895

9 Day Expedition

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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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Where to Stay

STRAHAN AND WEST COAST, TASMANIA

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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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.
2 restaurants, a bar/lounge, and a coffee shop/café are available at this hotel. Free WiFi in public areas and free self parking are also provided. Other amenities include conference space, laundry facilities, and a computer station.
All 142 rooms provide conveniences like sitting areas and refrigerators, plus free WiFi and TVs. Minibars, electric kettles, and free local calls are among the other amenities available to guests.

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Star rating: 4 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. Strahan Harbour and West Coast Reflections are also within 15 minutes.
WiFi in public areas, laundry facilities, and tour/ticket assistance are available at this smoke-free cabin. Self parking is free.
Housekeeping is available once per stay.

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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.
Laundry facilities, tour/ticket assistance, and a garden are available at this apartment building. Free WiFi in public areas and free self parking are also provided. Other amenities include barbecue grills.
Each apartment features a kitchen with a stovetop and a microwave, plus a private yard and a flat-screen TV with digital channels. Comforts include premium bedding and a pillow menu, and also available are a DVD player and a coffee/tea maker.

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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.
This smoke-free apartment building features laundry facilities and barbecue grills.
Each apartment boasts a private spa tub and offers a kitchen and a washer/dryer. Added amenities include 2 bathrooms, a patio, and room service.

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