Tuesday, May 23, 2017
One of the largest harbours in the world, Macquarie Harbour, is on the west coast of Tasmania. It is nearly 250 square kilometers in area, but unfortunately it is not very deep so larger ships can't use it, most of the traffic being small cargo and timber ships. The first European settlement here was a penal colony which operated on Sarah Island from 1822 to 1833 (more on this in a later post). The entrance to the harbour is narrow and has very dangerous tidal currents and rips. It is known as Hell's Gate and has been the site of many shipwrecks. As there are 3 lighthouses marking the safe passage, we just had to make the trip through Hell's Gate. As luck had it, we had absolutely perfect weather, unusual for this part of Tassie, and our catamaran was able to take us outside the entrance for a look at Cape Sorrell lighthouse. This is the second-highest lighthouse in Australia. It has been operating since 1899 and is heritage-listed. There used to be three keepers' cottages and an engine shed here as well, but they have become ruins since the light was automated. Two small lighthouses on Entrance Island and Bonnet Island mark the safe channel through the "gate". Several tour boats operating out of the town of Strahan cruise the harbour. We went with one operated by World Heritage Cruises and it was excellent, taking us to the lighthouses, the old penal settlement and the Gordon River wilderness - more photos are on the way.