Gordon River Cruise: too touristy?

Old Aug 12th, 2005, 11:38 AM
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Gordon River Cruise: too touristy?

We have 10 days in Tasmania and so far have plans for Hobart, Port Arthur, kayaking around Tasman Nat Park and Freycinet. We really want to see the west coast, and planned to drive over to Strahan specifically to do the Gordon River cruise (and stay 2 nights at the Wheelhouse). But as I look at the websites for the various cruises they look awfully touristy - as you can probably see from our itinerary we don't like group tours much - but the Gordon River sounded pretty neat. Would we be better off spending those 3 days somewhere else (and saving ourselves two 6 hour days of driving)?
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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 01:28 PM
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I also hate touristy things - but the Gordon River Cruise is wonderful. The boat we went on was not overcrowded and the whole day was terrific. You'll love the Wheelhouse!
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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 02:06 PM
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No it is not at all touristy. The population of Strahan is about 2000 and it is on a huge harbour where I actually saw about 3 people when I took the cruise.
The Gordon River should be a wonderful place to kayak too.
Don't forget the little villages of Richmond, Ross, Campbelltown as well and if possible stay en route in one of the convict built cottages in Hamilton - ask at the craft shop for directions to the owner's house for keys. These are all furnished with things from the convict era but are wonderfully comfortable and lovely.
The Huon Valley is another lovely place to see and drive around and if you check back a bit you will see my trip report on Tasmania - or some of the parts. I didn't go to the West Coast this time.
Although I do love that area ( the west coast) I think that if you check in Hobart you can actually get a light plane from Hobart over that area and land on some remote spot. I am suggesting that as there is so much to see in Tasmania that the 2 x 6 hour day drives to the West do stop you doing other things and there is too much to cram into the 6 days left that you have working on 1 day to Strahan 2 days there and 1 day back. A trip to Tassie is not complete without the day at Salamanca markets in Hobart on the Saturday either.
Whatever you do have a great time and enjoy that lovely little island.
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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 03:49 PM
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We splurged on the upper deck Captains room on the Lady Jane Franklin vessel and had such a terrific day out. Wonderful but if you are the adventurous kayak type then maybe you would find it all a bit indulgent. Our vessel picked up kayakers that had been out there alone for a few days so maybe that route would be more to your liking.

I would say our cruise on the Gordon River was a highlight of our trip but also the very touristy "the Ship that never Was" at the Strahan Visitors centre was a real good belly laugh, the walk through to Howarth Falls early evening was lovely and the sand dunes close by a good workout for the old legs. So yes you could call some of it touristy but they do "touristy" really well.

Also the drive to Strahan is of interest itself, You will be gobsmacked by the devastation around Queenstown even though it has a certain peculiar beauty about it. Then there are little short walks ( for eg along the upper Franklin River) that allow you to stretch your legs and see some lovely moss covered, lush green forest only metres from the roadside.

You also see vegetation changes from forest to alpine and if of any interest see forest native to south america rather than Australia, a remnant of when all the continents were joined up together.

Yes it is a long ways out but we included Strahan into a 10 day trip and am very glad we did.

We skipped Port Arthur because it doesn't hold appeal since recent events there but loved the Freycinet area (although wineglass bay lookout was one long line of tourists), love friendly beaches, Bicheno has some beautiful coastline with granite rocks and in the evening with sea spray it is just totally beatiful.

The other highlight of our trip was a visit to the Styx Valley where logging continues but have preserved an area where the tallest trees in Australia stand. This area is a political football where the effects of clear felling can be witnessed not far from stands of majestic swamp gum(aka mountain ash). Hardly anyone goes out this way as it is an unsealed road for mabye 15 km? but still ok for a 2wd.

It is not far from Mt Field national Park which is lovely but the shorter walks are very busy with tourists.

Ok I have waffled enough!
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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 04:16 PM
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I hate to be the lone voice of decent, but we didn't care for Strahan at all, specifically because it felt as if the entire town had been built around the Gordon River Cruise and the tourists it attracted. We didn't take the cruise, in part due to the weather and in part because it seemed so darn touristy. We could have missed a great cruise, but that's how we felt at the time.

Here's an excerpt from my Tasmania trip report (Oct/Nov 2004.)

We checked into the Hilltop Motel, which is part of Strahan Village. As far as we could tell, Strahan Village offered an assortment of accommodation, restaurants and shops. It reminded me of the place we’d stayed at in Grindelwald, and we immediately felt like trapped tourists.

After getting settled, we walked around the village and went to the very nice Visitor’s Center (Internet - $6 per hour). I don’t know what we were expecting, but Strahan seemed to center around the Gordon River Cruise and we were a bit put off by the place.

In all fairness, we felt the same way about Port Arthur, which we did not tour for the same reason. I'm told we missed a great opportunity, and perhaps we did, but neither placed appealed to us at the time.

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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 04:51 PM
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No I would not recommend Strahan Village itself as a destination but the Gordon/Franklin River is the centre of attention for good reason. Tannin stained River that looks like black glass reflects beautifully the surrounding hills dotted with Huon Pine. A trip out through devils gate and you can see the ruggedness and isolation of the coastline.

The only other way to see this region is by really going trekking that would require a lot of planning and a lot of survival skills. There are really only two vessels that cruise the Gordon River and I never saw the other one.

Much of Tasmania is World herirage listed national aprk and most of it is not accessible. It depends if you want to see a little this way or none at all I guess.
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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 06:24 PM
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The Gordon River cruise is not touristy, and to visit Tasmania and not see the Gordon River and Macquarie Harbour, is to miss one of the best features of tassie.
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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 09:24 PM
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I agree with most of the above comments. Strahan itself probably is built around the Gordon River experience and you would not go there especially for the town but the Gordon River trip was the highlight of our two week Tassie trip. We also paid a little more to sit upstairs which I think was well worth it. I highly recommend it to you. Have fun!
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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 03:05 AM
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We loved the Gordon River Cruise, and the drive to Strahan, which we did in winter, last July. The five hour drive, with a stop for lunch, changed nearly every hour, the road is twisting and a challenge, and we traveled with bits of snow on the road and mist hanging here and there. I thought it was magical. In Derwent Bridge there is a lodge, which I'm sure is busy in summer, but it was us and three other couples huddled around three large space heaters and an enormous open fire while we ate lunch. Quite hilarious really, but COLD at the time. (I don't think being in Tassie in July is a big deal, but was taken back by no central heating). We stayed in Strahan in a self catering cottage which was quirky and fun, that I found online. Our Gordon River cruise had a total of 20 people on a new boat that holds 220, so we liked the individual attention from the staff. I'd probably hate it at the height of summer, but it sure wasn't touristy.
Liz, thanks for that Huon Valley report - you just outlined my third trip to Tas next year!

Kelly
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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 03:54 AM
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Oliverand Harry

We stopped off at Bronte Park enroute to Strahan. A wee bit before Derwent Bridge.

The place we stayed had little houses, motel or hostel type accommodation and it seemed appealed to fishermen holidays. We took a motel room and we felt we were in switzerland or somewhere else. Great! Except we could hear plumbing noise from next door, still never been so cosy as in that tiny little motel room!

It was in the middle of nowhere but we had two experiences there never the less. One was the best meal we had in Tassie and the other was seeing the stars. The sight of the milky way from the chilly Tasmania remote highlands was awe inspiring.

In the moring we stopped at Derwent Bridge becaue fog was hindering our progress so we stopped at the roadside diner for breakfast while we waited for the fog to burn off.

One of those places that remembering improves the imagery. Don't appreciate it enough at the time but looking back...wow!
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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 02:24 PM
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Tasmania doesn't seem to get a lot of Americans, which suits us fine. We think that's because most of them think it's in Africa. That said, we love it when Tasmanians discover we are from Colorado and are AMAZED we have made the trip that far. We met a man who ran a small store outside Bicheno that sold homemade scallop pies (unbelievably yummy) who, when I said we had traveled very far to have them, asked if we were from Brisbane! Tasmania is my favorite place on the planet, and we cannot wait to return next year.
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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 02:48 PM
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Hi Kelly ( Oliverandharry)when you go to Tassie next year I will be there, hopefully with most of the house built, on a hill at Wattle Grove which is opposite Port Huon and 300 mtrs to the water. There are lots of places that sell scallop pies I noted, particularly down in places like Dover and Cygnet. Make sure you have time to do the Tahune Air Walk and also make sure that you drive around the entire area keeping close to the water for the best sea/river views ever.
I must say that I was a lot happier this last visit with the number of people with central heating - I did not find anywhere that didn't have it thank heavens. We Aussies are a stupid lot, Queenslanders live without airconditioning and cold areas without heating but the penny has dropped now I think.
Enjoy your next trip to Tassie it is one place on this earth that does not seems to have been tainted - if you know what I mean!
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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 05:53 PM
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oliverandharry -

Small world that this is, we're also from Colorado, although we currently live in Indonesia. Where in Colordo are you from?

I'm leaving tomorrow for the long trek back to CO - can't wait for some dry weather and Rocky Ford cantalope!

I envy LizF her new purchase in Tassie. Just last night hubby and I were dicussing a return trip. Guess we'll have to reconsider the Gordon River Cruise after all the positive remarks. We'll just have to figure out how to do it without spending much time in Strahan.
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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 11:29 PM
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Melnq8,
We are from Denver, where at Sunday's farmer's market I will also buy the first of the Palisade peaches, too! No melon here yet, but the corn is starting to be picked. We have had a VERY hot summer, which is why we choose to travel to Oz in their winter. And heaven knows it's cheaper, and I think people are just happier to see you. We have made friends in Hobart, too. Safe travels home!
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Old Aug 14th, 2005, 02:50 AM
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oliverandharry -

My mouth is really watering now...

I'm from Colorado Springs, but have also lived in Denver (Littleton) and will be spending some time up there for doctor appts, visiting friends, and loading up on See's chocolates to bring home.

Very much looking forward to some of that good Colorado fruit and produce. We're a bit deprived here in the jungle and right now I'd kill for a nice fresh salad.

Happy travels!

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Old Aug 14th, 2005, 11:09 AM
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thanks for all the help. we're going to strahan! One more question: has anyone tried the World Heritage Cruise? I know some here have recommended the Lady Jane Franklin (Gordon River Cruises), but it looks bigger (and more expensive) than the WHC.
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Old Aug 14th, 2005, 04:58 PM
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bobbieharv,

Add our voteds to the Gordon River Cruise. Very well done. We enjoyed heading out into the Southern Ocean before we went up river.

We cruised with a bunch of seniors from th e Glass House Mountains who had very interesting tales of that region and Steve Irwin.

The drive out from Hobart is stunning. A good place to break with an over night and lake cruise would be Lake St. Clair. The descent to Queenstown is white knuckle.

Oliver and Harry did they think you mistool Tasmania for Tanzania. Down here in Santa Fe locals often confuse Coloradans for Texans.

AndrewDavid
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Old Aug 14th, 2005, 07:12 PM
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We took the Gordon River Cruise which was recomended to us us they have a newer boat, better food and take fewer large groups. We paid the extra for the upper deck - and thought that it was excellent value for money. The boat was fabulous, the tour is slightly more extensive than the other, and the food was terrific.
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Old Aug 15th, 2005, 07:21 AM
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AndrewDavid,
LOL! Yes, most Americans think it's really Tanzania. And if we're being confused with Texans in your part of the world, I really WILL have to work on my Canadian accent.
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Old Aug 15th, 2005, 07:33 PM
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Agree with Andrew David....Lake St Clair is a good stopover point.
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