Strahan is not a town that is encounted by chance. The visitor makes the choice to visit. If you do not plan to do the Gordon River Cruise a visit is not essential. But if you make the effort there is satisfaction with the visit.
The British invented this place as the ultimate penal colony. Named after Governor Lachlan Macquarie this 50 kilometres long harbour opens to the sea through the narrow, eddying waters of Hell's Gates and receives the waters of the King and Gordon Rivers.
It is interesting to note that when Kelly entered Hells Gate he wrote 'The whole face of the coast was on fire, lucky circumstance for us. The smoke was so thick we could not see a hundred yards ahead of the boat. On pulling into the 'Narrows' at the small entrance island, we heard a large number of natives shouting and making a great noise as if they were hunting kangaroo.'
These Aborigines had lived in the area for at least 20,000 years. Tragically by about 1830 there were none left in the area although, in recent times, the discovery of Kutikina Cave near the Franklin River, has offered a rare insight into their lifestyle 15,000 years ago.
It was the huon pine, a superb fine-grained wood which was ideal for shipbuilding, which brought the first Europeans to the harbour. It was huon pine which was also the cause for the establishment of a penal colony at Sarah Island in 1821. At that point a signal station was established on Cape Sorell to ensure safe traffic through Hells Gates. The Huon Pine connection is very apparent. The Huon Pine Museum especially so.