This tiny Tasmanian harbour-side village is now a hub for thousands of visitors from the mainland and abroad for its charming, unspoiled setting in Risby Cove, on the northeastern side of Long Bay. It’s the gateway to Tasmania’s southwestern wilderness, with plane, boat, and helicopter tours of the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage-listed region increasingly popular. Its permanent population of around 900 swells by many thousands during the tourist season, with accommodation including the Strahan Village booked solid at this time.Originally a pioneer, mining, fishing, and forestry settlement, Strahan was discovered in 1815 when Captain James Kelly successfully braved the narrow Hells Gates entrance to Macquarie Harbour. A convict settlement was formed on Sarah Island and the region opened up due to its 1,000-year-old Huon pine forests, now mostly decimated by commercial felling. The harbour itself is a huge natural, lagoon-like stretch of water with Cape Sorell at its head, overlooking the Hells Gates passage.
Strahan is the perfect destination for eco-tourists and adventure activity lovers alike for its surrounding wildernesses, rivers, and deserted beaches. The weather here is as wild as the scenery, with visitors advised to come prepared.
- Gordon Wild Rivers National ParkRiverside rainforests, ancient Huon pines and maples, and the wild, dark waters of the River Gordon all form part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, with a boat trip from Strahan Harbour the best way to get a glimpse of this unspoiled primeval landscape. The Tasmanian devil, the island’s wildlife icon, can be spotted here.
- Ocean BeachDesolation, beauty, and soaring sand dunes are the highlights of this 40km-long beach set close by Strahan to the north of Hells Gates. The wild waves breaking here have traveled across the world from Patagonia and swells can reach up to 20m high.
- Sarah IslandSarah Island Historic Site was one of Australia’s most infamous convict settlements, active for just 10 years from 1822. The ruins give a scary insight into the brutalities of convict life in the early days and are accessed via cruises from Strahan.
- ZeehanThe rich lead and silver-mining heritage of Zeehan and its surroundings is documented in the West Coast Pioneers Memorial Museum. A walk around the town reveals the restored 19th century Gaiety Theatre and other heritage buildings.
- Teepoukana PlateauOnce logged almost to extinction by forestry companies, magnificent Huon pines are now being replanted via a serious conservation program. A tour here takes visitors through areas of sad stumps and dead limbs to a demonstration forest showing how the iconic trees are replanted and re-grown. It’s a great place for bushwalking and off-road driving, and is easily reached from Strahan hotels, such as the Franklin Manor.
Eating and drinking and shopping nearby
This quaint, traditional fishing town is the perfect place for delicious seafood fresh from the ocean, served in a variety of venues, from fine dining hubs to local fish and chip takeaways. Tasmanian cuisine is famous for its fresh, locally grown ingredients, and the more extreme examples of Modern Australian cuisine aren’t found here. Strahan hotels offer interesting restaurants, and harbour-side pubs are great for evening meals. Shoppers searching for reminders of their holiday should look out for the town’s several craft shops offering beautifully-carved Huon pine artefacts.
Public transport in the small town is sketchy at best, with its best-known rail line, the historic West Coast Wilderness Railway, now closed. A few buses run along the coast and Strahan has its own small airport, which is mostly used for sightseeing flights by helicopter or small plane. Consequently, most visitors arrive by their own, or hire car.