Don’t Miss The Spectacular Gordon River Cruise in Strahan, Tasmania

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It felt like we were in the middle of the Amazon.

Surrounded by nothing but ancient rainforest, a stillness and a silence. I haven’t been to the Amazon yet, and this could be the next best thing, at least in Australia.

The waterfront village of Strahan is the major town on Tasmania’s west coast and the starting point of the famous Gordon River cruise through Tasmania’s World Heritage Wilderness Area.

It begins a journey deep into the lower Gordon River. A land lost in time.

Gordon River Cruise, Tasmania, Australia
Gordon River

Tasmania is world-renowned for its unique wilderness areas, and a Gordon River cruise takes you deep into Tasmania’s World Heritage Area that covers almost one fifth of the whole state, and one of the last pristine examples of temperate rainforest in the world.

It’s one of the most unspoiled and wildest areas of Australia, rich in convict history and a pioneering spirit.

Hells Gates

From Strahan, our cruise headed towards the open sea at Hells Gates, the infamous passage where the harbour and ocean meet in a turbulent and shallow channel.

This narrow entry into Macquarie Harbour was named by the convicts on their way to the Hell on Earth of Sarah Island, once a dreaded penal colony.

After surviving Hells Gates (it was calm on our visit), we returned into the harbour on our way towards the lower reaches of the mighty Gordon River.

Hells Gates, Strahan, Tasmania
Hells Gates
Strahan 036
lighthouse marking Hells Gates

Sarah Island

Before entering Gordon river we first stopped at the once dreaded penal colony of Sarah Island.

Sarah Island is now a fascinating historic site, and pre-dates the other must see convict site in Tasmania of Port Arthur.

Created to put the ‘fear of God’ into the convicts of Van Diemen’s Land, Sarah Island was brought vividly to life by our very informative and witty guide.

This island was the largest boat building settlement in the British colonies, and we walked among the ruins of this once thriving settlement and heard stories of the convicts, soldiers, settlers and shipwrights who lived and worked here.

Convicts struggled in appalling conditions to fell Huon pines on the banks of the Gordon river and float them downstream for shipbuilding at Sarah Island.

Sarah Island has now been recognised under another category ‘World Heritage Convict Sites’, five of which are in Tasmania.

Sarah Island, Tasmania
view from Sarah Island
Sarah Island, Tasmania, Australia
ruins of Sarah Island
Strahan 101
Our little Savannah taking notes

Lower Gordon River

We then spent two hours cruising slowly on the still waters of the majestic Gordon River.

The World Heritage-listed Gordon River flows 200 kilometres from its source in the central highlands through the uninhabited wilderness of the Gordon-Franklin Wild Rivers National Park. The entire course of the Gordon River is an uninhabited wilderness area until it reaches the immense waters of Macquarie Harbour.

We cruised gently along the river where the lush and ancient rainforest was reflected in the mirror calm waters and learned of the sought after Huon Pine tree for its boat building qualities.

As we cruised we enjoyed a buffet lunch freshly prepared on board – including smoked salmon, cold meats, a selection of salads, fresh fruit, Tasmanian cheeses and local bakery bread rolls.

Gordon River Cruise, Tasmania, Australia

Gordon River Cruise, Tasmania, Australia


Strahan 108

Strahan 109


Gordon River Cruise, Tasmania, Australia


Gordon River Cruise, Tasmania, Australia

Heritage Landing

Mid-cruise we disembarked at Heritage Landing where an elevated boardwalk guides you into the green silence of the rainforest.

It’s a walk amongst the largest tract of temperate rainforest surviving on earth, and we got up close with species of Huon Pine, blackwood and myrtle. One of the ancient trees is thought to be 2,000 years old. This was fascinating and a nice way to stretch the legs.

Strahan 173

Strahan 172

Our cruise along the Gordon River was a highlight of our month long visit to Tassie. And the town of Strahan makes for a great base to explore the wild west coast of Tasmania.

Don’t miss this wilderness experience, we only hope you also get a brilliant sunny day as we did.

We cruised back into Strahan, departed the ship and spent the rest of the afternoon wandering this picturesque village before our day ended with one of the most amazing sunsets we’ve witnessed.

It was certainly, a day to remember.

Susnet in Strahan, Tasmania, Australia

[ybox_title]Gordon River Cruise Details[/ybox_title]

We cruised with World Heritage Cruises. The town of Strahan is located 300 kilometres from Hobart (4.5 hour drive) and 298 kilometres from Launceston (3.5 hour drive).

You have the option of a daily morning cruise or an afternoon cruise between 29 December to 20 January.

Book your tickets with Get Your Guide. You get easy mobile vouchers to use and cancellation up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund. 

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Accommodation in Strahan



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A Gordon River Cruise amongst the ancient rainforest of Tasmania's World Heritage Wilderness Area was a highlight of our month long visit to Tasmania.

A Gordon River Cruise amongst the ancient rainforest of Tasmania's World Heritage Wilderness Area was a highlight of our month long visit to Tasmania.

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15 thoughts on “Don’t Miss The Spectacular Gordon River Cruise in Strahan, Tasmania”

  1. G’day Craig! I am so enjoying you and the family’s Aussie trip and adventures, TRUE!
    There is NOTHING like Tassie, it IS magical beyond words too!
    LOVE experiencing UNESCO World Heritage Areas, LOVE the peace and tranquility!
    WHO wants to return to Tassie (am from Adelaide)…ME!
    Cheers! Joanne

  2. So beautiful! I never knew there was a Sarah Island! It’s definitely on my ‘to see’ list now – too bad it was such a feared place though. Glad you guys are having such a wonderful trip 🙂

  3. Amazing pics! Well taken. Also well written. I had been to AUS two years back for some business reasons and cruised in Sydney. It was a great experience with my colleagues. We cruised in Magistic’s Lunch cruise. Awesome Buffet lunch! We bought drinks that were not part of the package, bit costly but were good. The only thing that made me uncomfortable is the crowd. However, we could enjoy the view-outs well.

  4. I visited Strahan a year ago and it was gloomy as hell, still hauntingly beautiful though. You were so lucky to have had the sun shining bright when you visited, because Strahan only has 15 clear days annually. I took the exact same cruise you did and I loved it. Did you catch the play, The Ship That Never Was?

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