Convict tales and ancient trees

From Cradle Mountain we headed to the little town of Strahan and parked at the Golf Club for $10 per night.

We’d booked a Gordon River cruise with World Heritage Cruises for the afternoon/evening and after checking out the oldest working saw mill, boarded the bright red boat ready for 5.5 hours of cruising.

Our captain was very knowledgeable and provided running commentary throughout most of the cruise as we made our way first to ‘Hells Gates’ – named by convicts who when sailing into the bay through this narrow section, believed they were on their way to hell on earth – Sarah Island.

From Hells Gates we went via a salmon and trout farm to hear about the local industry before landing on Sarah island for our own little insight into hell. We were guided around the island ruins by Judith, a member of the local theatre company, who gave us not only an insightful but humorous account of the incredibly tough conditions and tales of lashings, ship building and contraband. The island was also the basis of the classic novel ‘For the term of his natural life’.

We then made our way up the Gordon River into the beautiful wilderness off the West coast of Tasmania and heard all about the pining industry of old. ‘Piners’ as they were known, would row up the Gordon river in small boats to fell the giant Huon Pine trees and send them floating down the river to be used to build ships and for their unique oil. The oil in the timber is so unique that even now, old logs that are reclaimed from felling decades ago, can be used and look as fresh today as when they were felled – they’ve even found old logs underground that are tens of thousands of years old and suitable to use.

They no longer fell the Huon Pine as they can’t be planted commercially as they only grow 1mm per year on average. Our cruise included a heritage landing board walk through a Huon Pine forest where we saw the difference between an 80yr old tree and one that was around 3,000 years old including the tiniest of pine cones that the trees grow to reproduce.

We enjoyed a yummy buffet dinner including some Tasmanian salmon before docking at the end of the glorious summer evening and headed back to camp for a lovely quiet nights sleep.

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