Mortifying mountains, dashing tannin-stained rivers, impenetrable rainforest, desolate coast and rain, rain, rain… Welcome to the wild west, much of which is now part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area. Aside from tourist-centric Strahan, towns here are rough and ready, beaten down by the weather and hardened by the wilderness – don’t expect many cosmopolitan trimmings.
Prior to 1932, when the Hobart–Queenstown road was built, the only way into the area was by sea, through the dangerous Hells Gates into Strahan’s Macquarie Harbour. European settlement brought convicts, soldiers, loggers, prospectors, railway gangs and fishermen to the area. In the 20th century, outdoor adventurers, naturalists and environmental crusaders were lured into the wilderness. The proposed damming of the Franklin and Lower Gordon Rivers in the 1980s sparked the greatest environmental debate in Australian history, and has fostered an ecotourism boom around Strahan.
See www.westcoast.tas.gov.au for regional information.