Strahan Things to Do Tips by al2401
Strahan Things to Do: 20 reviews and 48 photos
Sarah Island is the site of one of Australia's worst penal colonies and was in operation between 1822 and 1833. The prison was established to house the worst convicts and those who had escaped from other settlements. It is an isolated island, separated by wild seas and surrounded by wild inaccessible country and was ideally suited for its purpose. The surveyor who mapped Sarah Island concluded that the chances of escape were "next to impossible".
There were a number of escape attempts - the most famous being Alexander Pearce who managed two escapes. On each occasion he survived by cannabalising his escape-mates.
In an aim to be economically viable the governor of the time, William Sorrell, established a shipbuilding industry using the Huon Pines (an ideal timber for this purpose). However, the island was soon cleared of this valuable timber.
The conditions for the prisoners were extremely harsh. Since no food could be produced on the island malnutrition and scurvy were rife. The convicts were so crowded they were unable to sleep on their backs in the communal barracks. Ergot, a wheat fungus, was added to the bread to make it go mouldy so it could not be stored for escape.
Records show that in 1824, a prisoner killed anther so that he could be executed rather than endure the torment.
The prison on Sarah Island was finally closed in late 1833.
The ruins that remain today are known as the Sarah Island Historic Site which is part of the larger Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
The island can be visited, by ferry, from the town of Strahan. It is often included in a Day trip to the Gordon River.
Mouth of the Gordon River
The waters of the Gordon River meander down from their source in the Central Highlands. They pass through an ancient, beautiful but inhospitable land of rugged mountains and temperate rainforest before emptying into the magnificent Macquarie Harbour and then to the sea.
You are in the famous Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park at the mid northern area of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The park was created after Australia's largest conservation battle of the 1980s - the battle to save the Franklin from the Hydro Tasmania proposed hydro-electric power scheme. The statuesque Huon Pines have also benefited from the creation of the park. These slow growing trees were valued for their timber.
The Macquarie Harbour is more than 110 square miles of natural, safe harbour which opens to the seas through the narrow and treacherous Hell's Gates. It is also the site of the ruins of the convict prison on Sarah Island. Tasmania's famous salmon and ocean trout farms are also in the area.
A great way to see the area is from the Lady Jane Franklin II.
Steam locomotive - Wilderness Railway
The West Coast Wilderness Railway is a 35 Km Rack and Pinion or ABT Railway running from Queenstown to Strahan. The railway uses the fully restored 100 year old Steam Loco's that ran on the original rail line that was built for the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Company.
While the engines are original the carriages are all brand new and the interiors are made from Tasmanian timbers. When taking a trip on the railway, passengers are given a description of the history of the ABT from the on board Staff
The ABT system (patented by Rinecker ABT & Co. of Wurzburg of Germany) uses a cog wheel in the engine which engages a toothed central rail to enable the engine to climb the steep inclines of some of Australia's most rugged terrain.
The railway follows the King River Gorge for most of the journey.
Address: Queenstown Tasmania
Directions: The railway is best taken from Queestown. You can drive or take a bus there from Strahan.
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