|STRAHAN - Tuesday 19th December to Wednesday 20th (Days 53 & 54)
With a 6.30am start from Hobart we started an all day drive to the magnificent Tassie west coast, following the A10 with stops in Mount Field National Park to view the beautiful Russell Falls, and then Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair NP for a walk around the stunning Lake St Clair. The whole drive was full of awesome lookouts, far too many to list, before the road wound its way down through a moon-like landscape (sadly due to mining) to Queenstown then on to Strahan set on Macquarie Harbour and the great Southern Ocean. The scenery we experienced during this whole drive surely can't be bettered anywhere on this trip, can it?
Wednesday we set off for a 6 hour cruise around Macquarie Harbour, out briefly through its 80m wide entrance to the great Southern Ocean (named Hells Gate by convicts who sailed through it to the even more notorious-than Port Arthur-penal settlement of Sarah Island). Fortunately the ocean was its calmest with only a 1-2m swell. Usually it is anywhere from 8-13m, with a highest recorded of 30m! We then cruised through a truly unique part of the world, the Gordon River and the surrounding rainforest. The cool temperate rainforest, most of the last remaining on the planet, has hardly changed in 130 million years! We were able to take a short stroll along a boardwalk into the rainforest to see a tree that is still growing and is 2300 years old!!! (it also had a very venomous tiger snake living on it!!). We finished the cruise with a highly entertaining hour long tour of Sarah Island, now almost a complete ruin, but made fascinating by the guide who while being an author on the penal settlements history was also an actor! What a day.