TAS day 25: Strahan

January 20, 2016. 0km.

Today I woke up to rain. I’ve been lucky that so far most of the sparse rain I’ve encountered has shown up at times I’m not trying to bike or set up or break down camp. I did get a little damp walking down the shore to the cruise ship terminal, but not soaked. I booked fancy seats on the boat, so I got a nice comfortable seat by the window on the upper deck, complete with free drinks and food all day. The grey day didn’t bother me once I was settled into the cozy cabin, and it cleared up before the first stop. 

A grey day from my cozy cruise cabin.
The upper deck was about half full, but everyone was in the window seats so not in my picture.

The cruise started out by heading out to the mouth of Macquarie Harbour. I braved the very windy and cold top outside deck to take some photos, before retreating back inside to more coffee.

The roaring fourties were roaring.
Cute little island.

The commentary on the boat was much better than on the train yesterday. They talked about the history of shipping in Strahan (stopped when they would have had to widen the harbor mouth to allow large ships), and about how Tasmania has the second best of lots of things (this is the second largest harbor in Australia, the eucalyptus at Mt Field is the second tallest tree, the Huon Pine is the second oldest tree (they claimed), probably a few more I’m forgetting).

They do a lot of farming of Atlantic salmon in Tasmania, despite not being in the Atlantic.
From a tiny tent in the rain to being served champagne in a boat.

We then headed into the Gordon River, and slowed down to reduce wake (it also made for better forest viewing). The river was very peaceful, with rainforest on the banks. There were occasional smaller boats in the river. I was a little jealous of the kayakers, though only a little since I was enjoying being lazy. 

The Gordon River

The Gordon River is apparently very deep, which I suppose is what lets largish cruise ships wander around in it. The guide said that it also means there are very few water birds.

Another river user.

The guides pointed out a gnarled Huon Pine on the shore, and everyone rushed over to take pictures.

People taking pictures of a tree.

Eventually we stopped at a rain forest boardwalk. This rainforest was mossier than the rainforest I’ve seen so far.

This rainforest felt more like a rainforest than anything else so far.
This is a 2000+ year old dead Huon Pine with a bunch of other things now growing on it.
The boardwalk.
I like taking pictures of the tops of trees.
An 80 year old Huon Pine.
Whitey Wood, only found around here.
The boat.

On the way back down the river we got a tasty buffet lunch. I ate lots of vegetables! At one point there was what I think was the small bushfire that’s supposed to be burning around here. This is the sort of fire people around here seem to mostly ignore. 

Smoke!

An hour later, by the time I was quite comfortably full, we stopped at Sarah Island, a convict punishment station that preceded Port Arthur. It was a lot smaller than Port Arthur, without as many ruins, but it wasn’t as touristy and the guide was better.

Convict ruins.
The ruins of the solitary confinement cells. The cells were 6′ by 4′ by 6′ tall. Not much bigger than my tent.

I enjoyed the last leg of the cruise drinking cappuccino and eating a cookie and listening to Harry Potter music on YouTube (since it’s been stuck in my head yesterday).

By the time we got off the boat it was downright sunny.

Leaving Sarah Island, the clouds were almost gone.
A beach back in Strahan.

I spent the afternoon perusing the Huon Pine themed shops of Strahan.

Sawing Huon Pine.

Tomorrow is the first of a couple days of lots and lots of climbing to get over the last set of mountains for the trip. I’m not really looking forward to the climbing, but at least the last couple days into Devonport should be enjoyable. The hills of western Tasmania are long term investments – days of climbing buy days of descending later on. With higher frequency hills all the time just to keep things interesting.

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Bronwyn Woods
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