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Strahan the last stop on the West Coast.

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Tullah Lakeside Lodge

It was a brisk morning leaving Waratah. On the way to Strahan, we stopped at Tullah, a small town on Lake Rosebery. As it was a public holiday in Tassie (their Labour Day) nothing was open. Because of the winding roads, it takes a lot longer to get anywhere. But the drive is very pretty. We pulled into Strahan about lunchtime.

Map of Strahan
Then had a wander around the town. How should we describe Strahan?
Chris described it as going to the Sunshine Coast and arriving in Noosa. Lovely but very touristfied. We have been so used to staying at small, quiet places that it arrived as a bit of a shock. Yet Strahan isn’t big, less than 600 people. The main tourist attraction here is the boat cruises up the Gordon River stopping at Sarah Island. Sarah Island was a Penal Settlement between 1822 – 1833.
But as we are booked to go on the cruise Thursday I will fill you in on that then.

There are Harley rides, helicopter rides, plane rides, sailing ship cruises as well as the West Coast Wilderness Railway. This railway is a reconstruction of the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Company. This railway began Nov 1892 and was the only way to get the copper from the mine in Queenstown. The 48-kilometre line climbed up from Queenstown, then descended steeply through the King River Gorge, crossing 19 timber trestle bridges before reaching the Iron Bridge at Teepookana, then running along the level banks of the river into Strahan. It was built with the proud motto of the Mt Lyell Mining and Railway Company – ‘Work conquers all – we find a way, or make it. Apart from the tourist strip there is very little else. One garage, one small IGA store that is also the newsagent and chemist (different shelves in the newsagent part).
I don’t know how these people afford to eat buying the groceries from here. Fruit & Vegies are so expensive $14.99 for beans, and capsicums. $8 for tomatoes, and zucchini.

There are 2 caravan & cabin parks here and you have to book in advance. Nearly every 2nd home is a B&B and the rest is tourist cabins. There is no telephone reception unless you are with Telstra and we have 3 channels on the TV ABC1, ABC2 & ABC3. Don’t know how busy this place would be during winter and what the town folks would do. Like most small towns in Tassie, there is a lot of “For Sale” signs here. Well we’ve booked for a week so plenty of time to have a good look around.


One great experience we did have very early in our first day in Strahan was to visit the Native Timber Workshop in the middle of town. This place was a real treat to visit. The shop part sells slabs, planks and timber pieces of every conceivable shape and size of the Tassie native timbers like Huon Pine, Sassafras, King Billy Pine and Blackwood. The smell as soon as you get near the shop is wonderful. Every slab has a story attached to it about how old the tree was that the slab was cut from.

One reads that this tree was already old when the Pharaohs built the pyramids. It probably fell onto the forest floor about 1000 years ago and lay there until this family company salvaged it, brought it down the Gordon river to this sawmill, (right on the river), and milled it. The slab was dried for many years before being offered for sale. This company doesn’t cut down trees, it salvages fallen trees from the forest floors and fishes these huge logs out of swamps where they have laid for sometimes a thousand years. Fascinating!

There is a fabulous wood-turning shop attached and the original mill, still working, where you are free to enter and wander as they work. It’s worth the visit to Strahan just to see this great business.


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