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Sunday, May 09, 2004

Dissapointing Gordon River Cruise

Today I went on a Gordon River cruise. I got some breakfast at Banjo's Bakery, then boarded the boat at 8:30. The World Heritage Cruises boat was a big catamaran, with a fully enclosed lower deck, half enclosed top deck and an open air roof deck.
At 9:00 we got underway. It was an overcast, cold day. The boat took us first to the gates of hell (the entrance to Macquarie Harbour), and although we were moving fast, Macquarie Harbour is very big, so it took a while. The Gates of Hell are a channel of water which is extremely narrow, probably only 50 metres wide. As we went through the channel, I went onto the open air foredeck, which was freezing. There are two lighthouses at the Gates (very small ones), one of which is on a tiny island. The water flowing through the Gates was fairly turbulent, and apparently depends on the wind more than the tide for it's direction.

We then went briefly out into the Southern Ocean, where we saw a pod of dolphins feeding on a shoal of fish, at a distance of about 100m. The wind-chill on the foredeck when the boat was moving (even slowly) into the wind, was icy, it must have been well below freezing.
Moving on, we went to Sarah Island. It is a pretty small island, with not many remains of the convict days. I found it surprising that the shipbuilding slipways were largely intact underwater, even though they were made of wood. The tour guide was a bit too much though, as was the size of the group, and makeup of it (mostly retiree package deal tourists).

After Sarah Island, we went the short distance to the mouth of the Gordon River, where the boat speed dropped dramatically to reduce the wake impact.
We cruised for about an hour upstream, with a dense but fairly short rainforest on both banks. After some time, we came into a wide gorge and then into Horseshoe Bend (a 180 bend) where the boat stopped at 'Heritage Landing' for a short walk in the rainforest.
A boardwalk in a 400 metre loop went through dense low rainforest. It was seemed somewhat pointless though.The entire reason the landing and boardwalk was set up was to see a 3000 year old Huon Pine, which was left by the piners, as it was too twisted. But a few years ago the tree fell over, so now all you see of it is a big log. The forest you can see from the boardwalk is also quite pathetic compared to what I saw in the Tarkine, and made me wonder if the reason many people are indifferent to the fate of rainforests is because they only see examples like this. After filing around the boardwalk, we got back on the boat for the run back to Strahan.

I though the best part of the trip was the river views, and the mountains to the north east of the harbour, but on the whole it was not really worth the $75 ticket, as it was too packaged and commercialised
At Strahan, we docked beside the Huon Pine Saw Mill, which was also boring and commercial. I left and went back to the hostel for the night, thinking it was a bit of a waste doing the cruise.

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