296km (184 miles) NW of Hobart; 245 km (152 miles) SW of Devonport
Tasmania’s west coast is wild and mountainous, with a scattering of mining and logging towns and plenty of wilderness. The pristine Franklin and Gordon rivers tumble through World Heritage areas once contested by loggers, politicians, and environmentalists, whereas the bare, poisoned hills that make up the eerily beautiful “moonscape” of Queenstown show the results of mining and industrial activity. Strahan ★ (pronounced
Strawn), the only town of any size in the area, is the starting point for cruises up the
Gordon River and into the rainforest.
GETTING THERE Tassielink (& 1300/300 520 in Australia, or 03/6230 8900; www. W9U tigerline. com. au) runs coaches between Strahan and Launceston, Devonport, and Cradle Mountain every Monday and Wednesday; it serves Hobart on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday,
and Sunday. Operating days tend to change, so check the website. The trip from
Launceston takes over 8 hours. The drive from Hobart to Strahan takes about 41/2 hours without stops. From Devonport, allow 31/2 hours. Although the roads are good, they
twist and turn and are particularly hazardous at night, when marsupial animals come out
to feed. The cheapest way to travel between these places is by bus with a Tassielink A
Explorer Pass. t
VISITOR INFORMATION The West Coast Visitor Information Centre, on the Esplanade at Strahan (& 03/6472 6800; www. tasmaniaswestcoast. com. au), is open daily from 10am to 6pm in autumn and winter and to 7pm in spring and summer. Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday.
Gordon River Cruises (& 1800/420 155 in Australia, or 03/6225 7000; www. pure tasmania. com. au) offers a 6-hour trip daily at 8:30am, returning at 2:15pm. In peak season, a second cruise operates, leaving at 2:45pm and returning at 8:30pm. Cruises take passengers across Macquarie Harbour and up the Gordon River past historic Sarah Island, where convicts—working in horrendous conditions—once logged valuable Huon pine. The trip includes a guided tour through the ruins on Sarah Island. Cruises depart from the Main Wharf on the Esplanade, in the town center. The fare, including lunch, is A$90 adults, A$35 children 3 to 14, and A$235 families of five for internal seats; A$115 adults, A$65 kids, and A$295 families of four for window seats; and A$195 for all seats upstairs with the captain.
World Heritage Cruises (& 1800/611 796 in Australia or 03/6471 7174; www. worldheritagecruises. com. au) offers daily cruises, leaving Strahan Wharf at 9am and returning at 2:45pm (except July 15—Aug 15). A second cruise operates daily between
Among the least-known areas of Tasmania, the coastline west of Devonport can throw up some surprises. Not least of them is the "Nut" which rises from the sea and towers above the township of Stanley (140km/87 miles west of Devonport; 430km/267 miles northwest of Hobart). The Nut is the remains of a volcanic plug that forced its way through a crack in the earth’s crust some 12 million years ago. You can walk to the top or, if you’re brave, take a 5-minute chairlift ride for A$9 for adults, A$7 for children ages 1 to 16, or A$25 for a family of six. It operates daily, 9:30am to 5pm in summer and 10am to 4pm in winter. A warning, though: Don’t attempt to ride the chairlift back down if you’re afraid of heights—the descent is incredibly steep, and there’s no getting off!
December 29 and March 31, leaving at 3pm and returning at 8:30pm. The company’s 35m (115-ft.) catamaran Eagle stops at Sarah Island, Heritage Landing, and the salmon S and trout farm at Liberty Point. Food and drinks are available on board. The cruises cost A$85 to A$110 for adults, A$45 to A$60 for children 5 to 16 (free for children under 5), and A$235 to A$295 for families of five.
West Coast Yacht Charters (& 03/6471 7422 or mobile phone 0419/300 994) runs overnight sailing cruises for A$320 for adults and A$160 for children ages 14 and under, all-inclusive. The company also offers other cruises.
< Although cruises are the main attraction in the area, you can also enjoy jet-boat rides, sightseeing in a seaplane that lands on the Gordon River, helicopter flights, and four – wheel-drive tours.
Gordon Gateway Chalets These modern self-contained units are on a hill with good views of the harbor and Strahan township. Each has cooking facilities, so you can save on meal costs. The two-bedroom suites have bathtubs, the studios just showers. Breakfast is provided on request. Guests have the use of a barbecue area. One unit has facilities for travelers with disabilities.
Grining St., Strahan, TAS 7468. & 1300/134 425 in Australia, or 03/6471 7165. Fax 03/6471 7588. www. gordongateway. com. au. 19 units. A$125-A$350 double. Winter discounts available. MC, V. Amenities: Babysitting. In room:TV, hair dryer, kitchenette, minibar.
Ormiston House kk Ormiston House is a gem. Built in 1899 for the family that gave it its name, under the present owners it has become a sort of shrine to their predecessors. Each room is styled to represent one of the original family members. They are all intricately furnished, wallpapered in busy designs, and come with a good-size bathroom. There’s a morning room and a restaurant serving good food. The owners are friendly and have plenty of time for their guests. No children under 12.
1 The Esplanade, Strahan, TAS 7468. & 03/6471 7077. Fax 03/6471 7007. www. ormistonhouse. com. au. 5 units, 1 with shower only. A$210-A$260 double. Rates include breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V. No children 11 and under. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; concierge. In room: A/C, TV, hair dryer, Wi-Fi (free)