wilderness n. 1. a wild, uninhabited and uncultivated region……….. the definition says it all and on close inspection of any Tasmanian map one would be drawn to the areas devoid of towns, with few roads and as far away from the main inhabited centres as you can go. In other words look to the west. From the highlands on the Lyell Highway, west to Strathgordon, north to the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, to lakes St. Clair, King William, Pedder and Gordon and to the west coast towns, with Strahan at the centre, and gateway to exploring Tasmania’s real wilderness.
Head West For Real Wilderness
by Mike Fry
To the south of the Lyell Highway and beyond the peaks of Lyell and Frenchmans Cap is the Gordon and Franklin Wild Rivers National Park accessed by cruise boats from Strahan, and Macquarie Harbour linked to the Great Southern Ocean by the infamous Hell’s Gates. This area is the personification of real wilderness; so much untouched and wild.
This pristine part of Tasmania is made accessible by wilderness operators as entrepreneurial as those early pioneers who fought with nature to extract a meagre living from fishing, mining and forestry. Today descendents of those pioneering families still live on the west coast like the Grining family with their state of the art vessel the Eagle taking visitors into the wilderness and giving them a glimpse of what a true remote wilderness is.
The Eagle: World Heritage Cruises
Visitors can step back in time to a world that has changed little since the last ice age where deep tannin stained rivers cut through steep gorges covered in rainforest timbers such as Huon Pine, Myrtle and Sassafras. The ridges peppered with eucalypts sheltering the valleys harbouring Celery Top and King Billy pines reach out among the mists like eerie sentinels as the Eagle glides silently through the dark waters.
Here there are no engine noises and thumping hulls through choppy seas; only the sounds of nature at its most magnificent. A solitary sea eagle, perched high and offering only a cursory glance to the inquisitive visitors, while at the same time watching for an unsuspecting brown trout to break the surface and seconds later the trout succumbs to the clutches of the eagle as it dives a hundred feet down from its observation post. This vessel is aptly named and bears the same name as the first Grining tourist vessel that brought visitors to this very same place back in 1896.
Pure Waters of the Real Wilderness
There is something very special about this Western Wilderness where the waters are so pure they produce the world’s best Atlantic salmon and ocean trout in the fish farms of Macquarie Harbour. The same wilderness area that first brought the convicts to Sarah Island before Port Arthur and is an integral part of your wilderness cruise from Strahan.
The Round Earth tour guides on Sarah Island will delight you with a play every evening at the Visitors Centre where you will find out what happened to the last convicts who escaped from Sarah Island, the convict prison in the wilderness.
To not ‘Go West’ to Tasmania’s real wilderness is like not visiting Tasmania at all. It’s like an unfinished symphony; the music stops but it can’t be the end, there must be something more. There is: Tasmania’s Western Wilderness.
Stay two nights – one night is just not enough!
Mike Fry and Carolyn Nissen are the owners and hosts of Ormiston House Bed and Breakfast accommodation in Strahan. Mike represents the tourism group Discover Strahan and Carolyn is the chairperson of Tasmania’s West Coast tourism organisation. Photos were provided to Think Tasmania by Mike Fry.
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