The small and quaint harbour-side village of Strahan is one of the most isolated towns in Tasmania. Because of this, it doesn’t attract quite as many visitors as Cradle Mountain, Freycinet National Park, or Hobart. But Strahan has plenty to offer and should be on anyone’s Tasmanian itinerary. While it does take a bit of effort to reach, once you’re there you won’t regret it.
We recently spent three days in this beautiful part of Tasmania and believe me, it did not disappoint. It’s a breathtaking place, surrounded by ancient rainforest and nestled on the shores of Macquarie Harbour, a waterway six times the size of Sydney Harbour. But because of its remoteness, it’s super quiet and a great place to enjoy some Tasmanian serenity.
Strahan is perfect for nature lovers, history buffs and anyone seeking out peace and quiet. In Strahan, life moves at a more relaxed pace.
So, start planning your trip to the wild West Coast of Tasmania and read on to find out more about this awe-inspiring part of the most beautiful state in Australia.
What to do in Strahan?
A Gordon River Cruise
Strahan is the gateway to the famous Gordon River and cruising through this World Heritage Wilderness Area is an absolute must-do while you’re in the area.
So, jump aboard the Spirit of the Wild for a fabulous day out, filled with spectacular scenery that will blow you away.
The cruise starts with a visit to Hell’s Gate, an infamous passage where the ocean meets the harbour. This turbulent and shallow channel was given its name by convicts as they prepared to arrive at Sarah Island, the nearby penal colony. As stunning as it looks to us now, this view was the last thing they saw before arriving at the dreaded convict settlement.
The catamaran then travels up the unforgettable Gordon River. This national park can only be accessed by boat or seaplane. The boat then quietly makes its way up to Heritage Landing.
As the Spirit of the Wild glides through the river, the reflections of the rainforest and clouds over the river are breathtaking and are guaranteed to get everyone outside on the deck, snapping off photos. Once in Heritage Landing, the boat docks and everyone on board can enjoy a 30-minute boardwalk into the ancient rainforest, learning about the local flora and fauna along the way.
Back on board, the last stop of the cruise is the afore-mentioned former penal colony of Sarah Island. On Sarah Island, you can take a guided tour, to learn about the harsh conditions the convicts had to endure. No wonder they thought it was hell on earth. It truly sounded like it, even though you wouldn’t get that impression today.
Read more about the Gordon River Cruise here.
A ride on the West Coast Wilderness Railway
A unique way to take in the rugged wilderness of the west coast of Tasmania is by taking a ride on the West Coast Wilderness Railway. This historic train ride follows a thirty-five-kilometre long track between Strahan and Queenstown.
This is much more than just a train ride, it’s a real experience. Not only do you get to enjoy the incredibly beautiful wilderness along the way, but you also learn about the extraordinary engineering effort behind this railway and hear stories of the tough lives of the workers that made it all happen.
The beautiful carriages are pulled along by a 120 plus-year-old steam locomotive! It’s a fun day for the whole family.
Note: This experience is not available in the winter months.
Read more about the West Coast Wilderness Railway here.
Take a short walk to Hogarth Falls
There’s no need to be an experienced hiker for this walk. You simply follow a short, self-guided path to Hogarth Falls. The walk starts in People’s Park and is an easy 40-minute return stroll.
Be sure to keep an eye out for platypus. They can sometimes be seen swimming in the creek along the way to the falls. We weren’t lucky enough to see any but, who knows, you might be!
You’ll notice that the water is stained brown due to the tannin in the water. This leaches from the tree bark and is found in many Tasmanian streams.
Take a long walk on Ocean Beach
Strahan’s Ocean Beach is six kilometres outside of Strahan’s centre and is accessible via an unsealed road. Ocean Beach runs uninterrupted for over 30 kilometres and is Tasmania’s longest beach. It’s the perfect place for a long walk, to enjoy the sounds of the waves and to breath the fresh Tasmanian air.
You could walk for miles on this beach and not see another soul! But don’t even attempt to swim here; the water is way too dangerous.
For a romantic night, bring a picnic and some Tassie wine and enjoy the sunset with your loved one.
It’s possible to drive along Ocean Beach if you have a 4WD but be careful to avoid the endangered nesting birdlife.
Visit the Morrisons Huon Pine Sawmill
The Morrisons Huon Pine Sawmill is a family-owned and operated sawmill that specialises in Huon Pine. Every day at around 3 pm, they run a free demonstration of their operations. At their shop, they sell well-priced chopping boards, coasters and other souvenirs.
The Ship That Never Was
The Ship That Never Was is the longest-running play in Australia. It’s performed every night at 5.30 pm at the Richard Davey Amphitheatre, next to the West Coast Information Centre in Strahan. The show is based on a true local convict story. Dramatically and hilariously, it tells the story of the last great escape of convicts from Sarah Island. It is the perfect addition to your time on Sarah Island.
Cost: $25 per adults
Sunset drinks with a view
After a fun day exploring the wilderness, a glass of Tasmanian wine (or a Tasmanian beer) is in order. Watch the sun go down with harbour and village views at View 42º Restaurant. Why not finish the day off perfectly with a bucket of fresh prawns or a Tasmanian cheese platter!
When to visit Strahan?
For the warmest temperatures and for less chance of rain, October till April is the best time to visit Strahan. But this part of Tasmania can get rain at any time, so be prepared either way!
If you visit in winter, you will probably have the whole place to yourself and pay a lot less for accommodation. But you may find fewer places open and the West Coast Wilderness Railway does not run in winter.
How to get to Strahan?
You’ll need a car to get to Strahan. If you’re coming from the mainland, you can take your own car across on the Spirit of Tasmania. If you fly into Tasmania, you will need to hire one. Bear in mind that the cost of car hire in Tasmania is a fair bit more than on the mainland unless you are lucky to get a good deal (which can happen, so do some research). If you already live in Tasmania, well lucky you!
Launceston: 3 hours and forty-five minutes
Hobart: 4 and a half hours
Devonport: 3 hours
Where to stay?
The Strahan Village is situated in the heart of Strahan and offers a variety of accommodation types (Waterfront suite, hilltop harbour view or standard rooms). It also offers a few dining options, such as buffet at View 42° Restaurant & Bar, and pub meals at Hamer’s Hotel. It’s a short walk from the Gordon River Cruise and a lovely 20-minute walk to the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Book your stay at the Strahan Village here.
Another beautiful place to stay in Strahan, Risby Cove is located on a quiet cove and offers spectacular views of the harbour, especially at sunset. It’s a short 10-minute walk to both Strahan centre and the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Their onsite restaurant is a must for a lovely dinner with local produce after a long day of exploring. Book your stay at Risby Cove here.
For more places to stay in Strahan, you can use HotelsCombined to search across all the major accommodation websites. Find the best deal using the search boxes below.