The Gordon River is inside Tasmania’s World Heritage Area.

Entering the Gordon River.

A couple of maps for you to see just why WHA listing is a big deal in Tassie.

World Heritage Area takes up a huge portion of the island state.

The Franklin River flows into the Gordon River & the waters make their way out to Macquarie Harbour.

In 1979 the Hydro-Electric Commission (HEC) released a proposal to build a power scheme  (i.e. a big dam) which would inundate long portions of the middle reaches of the Gordon River and Franklin River valley. The construction project would have brought many jobs to an area suffering high unemployment.

The summer of 1982-3 saw the village of Strahan become the focus of the largest conservation battle ever fought in Australia: the battle to save the Franklin River. This issue dominated Tasmanian politics (and to a fair extent, Australian mainland politics too) throughout the late 70s and early 80s. This issue tore  great rifts between those who supported the construction of the dam and those who wanted to preserve the region for its wilderness values. Families and friends were torn apart in their passion.

That rift is still felt in many families in Strahan & the rest of the island.

The conservationists won.

A good summary of the Franklin below Gordon conservation battle can be found at Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service.

Gordon River, Tasmania. Home to huon pine trees.

Scenes along the Gordon River, Tassie

Gordon River, Tasmania

We cruised up the Gordon River at a very sedate pace as required by law.  The banks of the river are quite delicate and the wash of the boats as they travel at speed along the water cause irreparable damage.  And thus strict speed restrictions, determined quite scientifically, were imposed.  It makes for very leisurely sightseeing.

The large cruise boats are permitted to travel only as far as Heritage Landing on the Gordon River. This is to preserve the delicate ecosystems of the river inside the wilderness area.

We disembarked at the Landing for a brief tour of a very small portion of thickly wooded forest. It was quite magical.

Heritage Landing, Gordon River.

Heritage Landing, Gordon River

Wood fungi! This time it's on the Gordon River at Heritage Landing. Have I mentioned my love of wood fungi? These ones were quite fascinating.

Spooky or magical? Thick woodland at Heritage Landing, Gordon River

Woodland & thick mosses at Heritage Landing

Another wood fungus! They were plentiful and beautiful. Heritage Landing.

Yet still more thickly wooded scenery, moss, lichens & fungi amongst the Huon Pines & other tall trees of Heritage Landing on the Gordon River:

Heritage Landing, Gordon River

The log is from a Huon Pine that fell in 2000. They believe it to be around 1500 years old!

Pretty ferns on trees at Heritage Landing.

Have you noticed how thickly wooded this whole area is?  And it’s been this way for thousands of years.  How the hell did those convicts who escaped from Sarah Island manage to push their way through this area & navigate themselves back to Hobart? But a number of them did.  Of course, a lot of them died trying too.

The yellow blobs of this bush are very sticky wax. It was used by the piners (log cutters) as bush medicine.

From little things, big things grow – these are the seeds from which huon pines grow. They’re tiny!

Okay, we’ve lunched (mighty fine dining on board), we’ve toured, we’ve touched, we’ve smelt.  Time to cruise quietly back down the river.

Reflections on the Gordon River

Looking back along the Gordon River on the cruise home.

Gordon River

The Gordon River in all her magnificence. 16 October 2009