THE GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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The wildest and least explored countryside in Australia lies on Tasmania's west coast. Due to the region's remoteness from the major centers of Hobart and Launceston, as well as its rugged terrain, the intrepid pioneers who developed this part of the island endured incredible hardships and extremely difficult living conditions. Though the area is now internationally recognized as one of the world's
richest mineral provinces—with vast deposits of tin, gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc—even today the viability of towns depends on the fluctuations in the price of the metals. The region still seems like part of the frontier.
Much of this rugged area lies in protected zones or conservation areas, and there are lingering tensions among conservationists, loggers, and local, state, and federal government agencies. Strahan is the major center for tourism, and the departure point for cruises along the pristine Gordon River and Macquarie Harbour. The area's rich mining history is kept alive in smaller towns such as Queenstown and Zeehan.
The remoteness of the region, however, is what makes the area a major draw. Pristine, untouched ocean beaches are readily accessible from Strahan; and cruises on Macquarie Harbour and to the lower reaches of the Gordon River offer spectacular scenery, including majestic Huon pine trees growing right down to the water's edge.