On the day we arrived in Strahan the receptionist at the Strahan Holiday Park, where we were staying, recommended that, if we had nothing organised for Christmas Day, the Gordon River Cruises had a cruise operating that would be good to go on and that it was advisable to book the tickets as soon as possible so we decided it sounded like it was a great idea.
We walked from our accommodation, around the waterfront, to the wharf where the Gordon River cruise boat was docked and waited with all the other passengers to board the boat - it appeared to be booked out so lucky we did book out tickets, there were a couple of people who were disappointed about not getting the seats they wanted.
After every was boarded the cruise started by heading, at top speed, out the the heads of Macquarie Harbour, popularly called Hells gates by the Early convicts that were bought through here on there way to their new home on Sarah Island, deep in the harbour. The opening to the harbour is a very narrow stretch of water that was very shallow in the old days, a sea wall was constructed, by the convicts, that allowed the water to get deeper. There are two lighthouses, on either side of the heads, to guide boats safely through the waters - in the old days the lighthouses were manned but now the operation is automated.
We then passed through the heads to the open ocean where we got a glimpse of the larger lighthouse at Cape Sorell before heading back again to view the salmon farming arrangements located on the southern side of the harbour.
Then it was on to the Gordon River, located a the to of the Harbour where we slowly cruised along a stretch of the Gordon River to the location of the Heritage Landing Nature Walk where we were allowed of the boat to enjoy a pleasant, cool walk through a stretch of the native forest to view some of the native flora and fauna - look out of the tiger snakes, we saw three of them sunnying themselves on a fallen tree trunk 1/2 way around the track.
Back on the boat again and it's time for lunch - a buffet of all you can eat, something for everyone - salads, hot verges, meats, etc. - very nice, what a feast.
Next it's a stop at Sarah Island to walk around the ruins of the male convicts quarters and the other people that lived on the small island. The were two operations - the guided tour or the do it yourself tour - we opted for the second option but I wish we'd done the guided tour ax you would have got more information. There were placards a different locations and we were given paper maps with information about all the different ruins that we passed. Very interesting and there was a small island adjacent that was said to have been where the woman were kept. This convict settlement was opened before the larger one at Port Arthur. The convicts were mainly used for harvesting the logs of the trees on the forest.
On the last stage of the cruise we were served up dessert on our way back to the wharf at Strahan. Once again it was a buffet, with Christmas puddings, trifle and jelly, as much as you can eat - yummy.
The cruise was well worth it and very informative. The captain was very good and gave us a full running commentary throughout the whole trip. Loved it.