Unveiling The Timeless Beauty of Gordon River: Nature's Masterpiece

In the latest episode of ‘Trending Stories From Down Under’, we’re cruising along the evergreen wilderness of Gordon River in Strahan, one of the best-kept secrets in the island state of Tasmania. The deep, dark waters of Gordon River snakes through the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and is part of the breathtaking Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.

The river is easily recognisable by its unique dark tea colour, which is a result of the natural tannins of the buttongrass plains seeping into the waters. So like we said in the opener, let’s jump right into this short read and explore everything exciting about Gordon River and its timeless wonders.

See the real Gordon River on a cruise

Wilderness cruise on gordon river

The best part of Gordon River is that it’s part of Tasmania’s remote wilderness region. But these wild regions are not always easy to access and such is also the case for Gordon River. But fret not, we just need to change our approach a tad bit. Enter Gordon River Cruise - an award-winning wilderness cruise that takes you on a relaxing journey along the serpentine channels of the river. If you’re curious on what to do in Strahan, then a Gordon River cruise simply has to be number one on your wishlist! 

On a side note, if you’re planning to explore Gordon River from a unique perspective, you can check out the flight & cruise tours from Hobart that combine a scenic flight to Strahan, a relaxing cruise, and a guided bushwalk.

A mecca of fisheries at Macquarie

Macquarie harbour
The Gordon River flows into Macquarie Harbour, which is one of Australia's largest natural harbours. The harbour has gained attention for its thriving aquaculture, especially salmon farming. This, and the surrounding rainforests, add to the ecological significance of the region.

When talking about Tasmania’s brutal penal history, Port Arthur usually comes up first, but it fades in contrast to Macquarie Harbour and the past that surrounds it. We’re talking about notorious jailbreaks and corruption to tales of cannibalism!

Through the gates of hell

A Gordon River cruise departs from Strahan Wharf towards the first major attraction on the cards, Hells Gates. This formidable gateway to the harbour was named by the thousands of convicts who made their perilous journey to Sarah Island, dubbed ‘Hell on Earth’. The island was one of the brutal penal colonies at the time. Hells Gates, now brimming with natural beauty, rugged coastlines and a rich maritime heritage, connects to the Southern Ocean. Mariners and sailors who navigate these channels still talk about rough waves on their voyage.

Time machine to the past: Sarah Island

Sarah Island
What a beautiful name for an island, but that’s as far as its charm goes. Sarah Island holds a unique place in Tassie history as a former penal settlement during the early 19th century. Through the gates of hell, the convicts were taken here and served the most brutal time of their lives. These were the worst convicts of the time and they faced harsh conditions everyday; from ferocious punishments to long-days of heavy labour, which was mostly cutting down highly sought-after Huon Pines. A Gordon River cruise includes an hour-long tour of this old penal colony; be all ears as your guide brings the place alive through an animated rundown of the haunting past of the prisoners.

Meet 2000-year-old trees

Heritage landing gordon river
Heritage Landing is another stop along the river where you can enjoy a section of unadulterated rainforests, filled with slow-growing trees like myrtle, leatherwood, sassafras and the legendary Huon Pine. Once a timber camp for prisoners tasked with harvesting the Huon Pine, the second-oldest living organism on Earth, is now a site of rich history and ecological-importance.   

A guided boardwalk through this primaeval forest means you’ll be surrounded by nothing but stillness, silence and a lot of greenery. It’s as green as the eyes can register. This guided tour showcases the ethereal flora of the region, and you won’t just learn the fancy names of these plants, but their medicinal properties as well.

Time for a fun trivia: The swampy environment is ideal for these once-threatened Huon Pines to thrive, but have you ever wondered why these trees are so expensive? The answer is durability. The presence of resin-rich methyl eugenol oil in the tree trunks makes it one of the most durable timbers in Australia.

Cute faces along the river

The reflective waters of Gordon River are a sight to behold in itself, but they are not the only thing you see on a river cruise. The dark waters and the lush rainforests that line the riverbanks are home to some notable wildlife species. Be on the lookout for the regularly sighted white-bellied eagles and wedge-tailed eagles soaring above the waters, or smaller birds like the rare pink robin swifting through the canopies. If lucks a charm, you might even spot the elusive duck-billed platypus, which lives in burrows along the riverbanks.

In short and true words

If you’ve come this far, you now know that Gordon River is unlike anywhere else on the planet. A blast from the past, it’s where time slows down and you can’t help but embrace Mother Nature’s finest work. And as we cruised through the glistening waters and walked through pristine rainforests, it’s pretty clear that this place is a keeper. So let’s keep a pact to keep this wild river as wild and untamed as possible for the long run, because natural gems like these are the real deal. Cheers to timeless beauty!