Strahan, Tasmania: Things To Do For Your Ultimate Road Trip

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Going on a Strahan trip and want to know all the best things to do in Strahan, Tasmania? We have you covered! Below you will find our guide to all the best Strahan Tasmania attractions to plan your ultimate trip.

Strahan is a place like no other.

The picturesque location, the pretty town and the top attractions that call Strahan home make for a captivating small town for tourists seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

Strahan waterfront
Strahan waterfront

And with a permanent population of only about 700, Strahan definitely punches above its weight when it comes to tourist attractions. The big ones being a Gordon River Cruise and the West Coast Wilderness Railway, but just walking along the waterfront area here with the desolate feel of Macquarie Harbour and the surrounding rainforest, and you’ll know you are somewhere special.

We always have a good time in Strahan and to make sure you do too, keep reading! Because below you will find our Strahan things to do blog with everything you need to know about the best Strahan attractions, some of the free things to do in Strahan as well as the best places to stay for your ultimate holiday in Strahan!! There is also a handy map of the best things to do at Strahan.

Introduction to Strahan Tasmania

Welcome to Strahan sign

Strahan (pronounced strawn – like prawn) is located on Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania’s west coast. It was originally called Long Bay or Regatta Point but in 1877, it was renamed after Sir George Cumine Strahan, the colony’s Governor.

It is a former major port which was vital for the mining settlements that used to operate in the area as well as the timber industry that operated around Macquarie Harbour. It’s also been home to a small fishing fleet

Nearby is Sarah Island which was an infamous penal settlement known for being the harshest in the Australian colonies. Sarah Island was in operation from 1822 – 1833.

Today, Strahan is a popular tourist destination on a pretty harbour on the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Between Strahan’s natural beauty and its dark and interesting history, it’s a compelling place to visit.

Top 13 Best Things To Do In Strahan, Tasmania

Here are the best things to do Strahan, Tasmania options. Read through and select the ones that fit your interests and timeframe.

Enjoy A Scenic Gordon River Cruise

Gordon River
Gordon River

The absolute best answer to what to do in Strahan Tasmania is to take a Gordon River Cruise. These award-winning cruises are a must-do in Strahan and take you deep into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Departing from Strahan’s waterfront, a purpose-built vessel takes you to Hell’s Gate, the narrow entrance out to the Southern Ocean. After exploring this section of the harbour, it’s upstream to Gordon River for haunting scenery and reflections.

There are two stops – Heritage Landing, where you can walk through the rainforest to see Huon Pines and Sarah Island, the 19th century penal settlement known as the harshest in Australia. A local guide will show you around while sharing the area’s history.

Sarah Island convict ruins strahan
Sarah Island convict ruins

Cruises take around six hours and include lunch. For a special treat, buy an upper deck ticket which also includes morning and afternoon tea and an open bar. I recommend you book ahead to be ensured of a spot as this cruise is a popular option.

Click here to get your ticket.

Address: 24 Esplanade, Strahan TAS 7468

Experience A Rainforest Train Ride At West Coast Wilderness Railway

West Coast Wilderness Railway
West Coast Wilderness Railway

If you asked our son what to see and do in Strahan, his top answer would be the West Coast Wilderness Railway! One of the prime tourist attractions on the West Coast, it has been operating since 2002. The railway was formerly the Mt. Lyell Mining & Railway Company which ceased operation in 1963.

The route from Queenstown to Strahan was used to transport copper ore from the mines at Queenstown to the sea. It cuts through some very rough, rugged and scenic landscapes. However, what makes the railway really remarkable is the steep sections it can traverse, thanks to the rack and pinion gear system built into the tracks and the engine. A cog-wheel driven by the engine grips the rack’s cogs in between the rails.

Before kids, I went on the journey many years ago and really liked it and so was looking forward to taking one of my kids with me when the chance to go again came up.

west coast wilderness railway
The West Coast Wilderness Railway

There’s several routes to pick from although not all were running when this was published. We took the Rack and Gorge tour, which runs from Queenstown to Dubbil Barril (roughly the midway point to Strahan) before returning. There is also the River to Rainforest tour (which runs from Strahan to Dubbil Barril) and a full day Strahan to Queenstown and back again journey. You can find all the options here.

For any of the rail journeys you can upgrade to the Wilderness Carriage which includes a welcome glass of sparkling, free food and soft-drink or coffees and the option to buy beer and wine by the glass to help the journey unfold. The best bit is the Wilderness Carriage has an open air section which allows you to get great views and photos of the journey. I took the Wilderness Carriage the last time and it was well worth the extra cost, in my opinion.

The carriages themselves are custom made for the Wilderness Railway and are very comfortable. The Wilderness Carriage is even more comfortable with small tables for your drinks and food. Even if you’re in the “cheap” seats, the ride, while not always smooth, is never unpleasant.

If there’s one drawback is that there’s no toilets onboard. With toilets at every station and stops being frequent this wasn’t an issue for us though.

Our first stop was Lynchford where gold was once mined. The station has a small gift shop, displays of the different minerals dug up in the area as well as some history on mining and the chance to pan for gold! There’s an artificial creek bed salted with gold fragments and there is a demonstration on how to use the pan to pan for gold.

west coast wilderness railway panning for gold
Mr 8 pans for gold

My son loved this activity. Even though we didn’t get to find any gold, it was his favourite part of the trip and a great idea.

Soon after Lynchford, the gradient began rising and the rack and pinion system began to help us out. The gradient heading up from Falls Creek is 1 in 16 (that means 1 metre gain in elevation for every 16 metres traveled) and in one part 1 in 12. That’s really steep for a train.

west coast wilderness railway above
The West Coast Wilderness Railway from above

At the top of the hill is the stop of Rinadeera, where the engine takes a well earned break and a drink and you can get out for 25 minutes.

At Rinadeera station, there’s a kiosk selling snacks, coffee and drinks and sandwiches and a place to sit by the fire for when it gets cold (which happened to us, even in December). There’s a bridge over the tracks which allows you to get a great view of the train from above.

west coast wilderness railway scenery
Great scenery from the West Coast Wilderness Railway

From there, we headed down the hill to Dubbil Barril. It was on this part of the journey that the best views are to be found of the King River Gorge. The train feels like its perched on top of a cliff with a bird’s eye view of the gorge below. It is stunning.

At Dubbil Barrel the train begins its return journey. On my last visit to Dubbil Barrel, there was a small shop selling leatherwood honey and other local treats but this time there was nothing, which was disappointing given what was at the last two stations.

The highlight of the stop is instead the turning around of the engine on the manually powered turntable. We got to watch the drivers get out, push the train around, before jumping back on and re-coupling the train on the other end. If that is not of interest there’s a short bush walking loop to help fill the time.

west coast wilderness railway turning the train
Turning the train

For the return journey, everyone swap sides in the carriage so everyone got a chance to see both sides. The journey back is quicker as the train only stops for as long as needed and people aren’t encouraged to get off and wander around. All up the journey was a bit over four hours.

My son enjoyed himself, even though he often said he was bored. And to be fair that’s a risk for young kids (that aren’t train crazy) for such a long journey (four hours). I really liked the trip and would love to do another one from Strahan to Queenstown or vice versa again. It’s a stunning and unique journey that shows just how rugged and wild the west coast landscape is.

Address: 62 Esplanade, Strahan TAS 7468

Picnic At West Strahan Beach

West Strahan Beach
West Strahan Beach

Located by the Strahan Beach Tourist Park in a central spot is this one of the things to do and see in Strahan. There is a small, sandy beach here as well as a nice big BBQ and picnic area and a playground right next door.

The beach here is generally safe for swimming although it’s nowhere near as spectacular as Ocean Beach. It’s a good choice for kids who want a splash and the water is warmer than you might imagine.

Walk The Long Stretch Of Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach

Six kilometres west of Strahan, Ocean Beach is the longest beach in Tasmania at 40 kilometres long and a great choice of the things to do around Strahan. The pounding surf surrounded by wild wilderness is quite a sight and it’s a great place for a walk (note there are strong currents and swimming isn’t recommended). It’s also a popular place for four wheel driving.

The main entry point to the beach is an unsealed road. It’s not in the best condition but I was fine driving here in our regular Kia. Next to the car park is a shearwater rookery.

Visit Macquarie Heads

Macquarie Heads
Macquarie Heads

The closest you can get by car to Macquarie Heads is to follow the road here west of Strahan that branches from the road to Ocean Beach. A rocky road brings you to this one of the things to see and do in Strahan Tasmania. While unsealed, it is doable by regular car (I drove this in my Kia).

The end of this road is home to a camping ground (permit required) and there are great views over the Heads and Macquarie Harbour.

Swan Basin Picnic Area strahan
Swan Basin Picnic Area

Along the way is also perhaps the most picturesque picnic spot I have seen at the Swan Basin Picnic Area, the perfect place to stop.

The roads are not the best and while this is a fun area to explore, I wouldn’t rate visiting here as high as some of the other top things to do in Strahan on this list.

Check Out The Strahan Waterfront

Strahan waterfront
Strahan waterfront

Deserving a place in any top 10 things to do in Strahan list, the waterfront is an area you won’t want to miss. This is where many of Strahan’s attractions can be found including being the departure point for Gordon River Cruises and home to West Coast Reflections and the play, The Ship That Never Was.

There’s also some places to eat here and it’s just a nice place to stroll and have a drink. We had a great dinner at Hamer’s Bar and Bistro and Banjo’s Bakery is here for an easy lunch.

See The Historic Display At West Coast Reflections

West Coast Reflections
West Coast Reflections

One of the things to do in Strahan village is to visit West Coast Reflections, the small, but excellent, museum in the West Coast Visitor Information Centre at Strahan’s waterfront.

Reflections tells the story of the west coast’s history including its aboriginal people, its convict past, its mining history and its pining and conservation past including the Franklin Blockade and the growing conservation movement.

Inside West Coast Reflections
Inside West Coast Reflections

It’s all done in an interesting way with exhibits including a recreated piner’s cottages, rainforest, caves, boats and more. I was surprised by just how good this small museum is and I highly recommend it.

Address: The Esplanade, TAS 7468

Watch Australia’s Longest Running Theatre Show: The Ship That Never Was

The Ship That Never Was Theatre Play
The Ship That Never Was Theatre Play

Adjacent to the West Coast Visitor Information Centre is this one of the things to see in Strahan. Performed nightly (outside of winter when it’s a film) in a small amphitheatre, this 1.25 hour play tells the story of a group of convicts who escaped from Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour in 1834.

Based on a real event, it’s about when the last ship built at the Sarah Island was about to sail for the new prison at Port Arthur. However, it was hijacked by ten convicts instead.

Inside the theatre for The Ship That Never Was strahan
Inside the theatre for The Ship That Never Was

Playing for over two decades, this play is interactive, entertaining and not to be missed.

Address: 10 B27, Strahan TAS 7468

Watch Log Cutting At Morrison’s Huon Pine Sawmill

Morrison’s Huon Pine Sawmill
Morrison’s Huon Pine Sawmill

Just a little further along the waterfront from the visitor’s centre is Morrison’s Huon Pine Sawmill where you can have the opportunity to watch log cutting and wood turning activities.

Morrison’s is one of the oldest, still-operating sawmills and it gives demonstrations most afternoons after the Gordon River cruises return around 3pm. There is also a shop where you can buy wooden souvenirs and gifts or useful items like chopping boards.

Onsite is also a Morrison family history room where you can learn the story of Tasmania’s timber industry through their old photographs.

Address: The Esplanade, TAS 7468

Take The Short And Tranquil Walk To Hogarth Falls

Hogarth Falls
Hogarth Falls

Another answer to what is there to do in Strahan, Tasmania is to stretch the legs. And a great place to stretch the legs is with the short walk to Hogarth Falls from the People’s Park not far from the Strahan waterfront area.

Hogarth Falls track
Hogarth Falls track

This 40 minute return walk is flat (until right by the end) and well maintained. There are some information boards along the way about both what you are seeing as well as some observations by local primary school students which my kids found interesting.

At the end is a small incline and some steps down to get better views.

Go Sandboarding In Henty Dunes

Henty Dunes
Henty Dunes

Located about ten minutes north of Strahan, the Henty Dunes are a series of giant dunes that reaches several kilometres inland from Ocean Beach. They extend 15 kilometres up the coast.

You can reach a picnic area just off the main highway. It is signposted or put “Henty Dunes Picnic Area” into Google maps. From here you can take an easy 1.5 hour walk return to Ocean beach through the dunes.

Henty Dunes
Henty Dunes

Adventure lovers will love tobogganing down the dunes which can be around 30 metres high although the walks to the top can be quite a workout (once was enough for me!!). Some businesses in Strahan rent out toboggans.

Address: Ocean Beach Zeehan-Strahan Road TAS 7468

Check Out Queenstown

Queenstown
Queenstown

For somewhere quite different to visit while you are in Strahan, head to nearby Queenstown. Located about 40 minutes drive from Strahan, it has a very different feel.

Queenstown grew from the mining industry and the effect of this past is evident in the hills around Queenstown. Eroded valleys and hills with vegetation just starting to appear again is the norm – quite the contrast from the lush green rainforests around Strahan.

Iron Blow Lookout queenstown
Iron Blow Lookout

Many of the West Coast Wilderness Railway options depart from here, but there are a few other things to do in town as well. Head to the Iron Blow Lookout for a birds eye view into the first open-cut mine here now filled with emerald green water. Walk up to Spion Kop Lookout for views over town.

For the history of the area, check out the Eric Thomas Gallery Museum.

You can read more about what to do in Queenstown in our full guide coming soon!

Explore The West Coast Heritage Centre

West Coast Heritage Centre
West Coast Heritage Centre

Located a half hour away in Zeehan, the West Coast Heritage Centre is a must visit for anyone who wants to learn more about the area’s past. It’s also one of the things to do in Strahan in winter as it will work in any weather.

This museum is not just displays and artifacts but also a collection of well maintained heritage buildings, mining equipment and more.

The main part of the museum is in the old 1894 School of Mines and Metallurgy. Here, there are huge mineral displays, photographs and documents all displayed to show the history of the town and region.

It’s well laid out and helped me understand much of the boom and bust history of this region with many insights into a world that seems hard to imagine now. At one point, Zeehan was the third most important (and populated) town in the state after Hobart and Launceston and was known as the “Silver City”.

West Coast Heritage Centre outside

There are neighbouring buildings to explore including the Freemasons Lodge, Police Station and Courthouse and the grand old Gaiety Theatre. The theatre itself is a highlight. At one stage, it was the biggest concert hall in Australia and put on many grand shows and films.

Today, you can generally watch silent films from its stands, but currently, thanks to covid-19 this isn’t possible but you can still walk around the inside and watch a silent film from a neighbouring room which we really enjoyed.

Inside Gaiety Theatre Zeehan
Inside Gaiety Theatre

The outdoor area has various old mining-related machinery, blacksmith and wheelwright workshops, machinery shed, power house, police cells and many old locomotives and carriages.

There is a lot to see here and it’d be possible to spend an interesting half day exploring everything. It’s well and truly worth the 30 minute drive from Strahan.

Address: 114 Main St, Zeehan TAS 7469

Read more about visiting Zeehan in our full guide here.

What To Do In Strahan Tasmania Map

Things To Do In Strahan Tasmania map
Click the Map to open in Google Maps. You can then access directions to each of the locations discussed in this article.

Best Place To Stay In Strahan

Strahan gets enough tourist activity that there is a good variety of accommodation options in Strahan for all needs and budgets. There are places to stay directly in the waterfront area, by West Strahan Beach or somewhere between the two.

There are good options for romantic weekends or family breaks and, below, I’ve listed a few places to consider including a budget, mid-range and a more expensive option.

BEST – Ormiston House Review

Located a 13-minute walk from the waterfront area, Ormiston House is a top choice for people looking for atmospheric bed and breakfast style accommodation. On the shores of Macquarie Harbour, it was built by the founding father of Strahan, Frederick Ormiston Henry and has been beautifully restored.

There are five rooms here with wood furnishings, TV and temperature control. All rooms have ensuite bathrooms and tea and coffee making facilities.

There are beautiful gardens as well as an historic gallery and seating area with great views of the harbour. There is also the onsite Port O’ Call bar and free wifi. Ormiston House also offers laundry services.

Continental breakfast is provided in a stunning breakfast room.

Click here to see the latest prices.

MID-RANGE –  Strahan Village Hotel Review

Strahn Village is a very central place to stay by the Strahan Waterfront area. There is a huge range of room types from motel style rooms to family cottages. Some have spas or stunning Macquarie Harbour views.

Rooms come with flat screen TVs, wifi, mini-fridges, tea and coffee making facilities and sitting areas. Cottages also have kitchenettes. All options are well presented.

Facilities include two resturants, Hamer Bar and Bistro right on the waterfront and View 42°, straight up the hill from the waterfront area with great views. There’s also a gift shop and coin-operated laundry for guests.  Guests have easy access to everything in Strahan.

Click here to see the latest prices.

BUDGET – Big4 Strahan Holiday Retreat Review

Big4 Strahan Holiday Retreat bbq and picnic area
BBQ and picnic area at Big4 Strahan

An easy place to stay, the Big4 Strahan Holiday Retreat has a range of cabins and cottages on offer as well as camping sites. Located on 5 hectares with bush and a creek (complete with platypus), this is a relaxing place to stay. You can pick from one bedroom to four bedroom cottages which are fully self contained.

There are many facilities including multiple laundry rooms, amenity blocks, BBQ and picnic facilities and a games room. There’s also an interesting room called “The Alexander Pearce Story” where you can learn the story of the infamous cannibal convict, Alexander Pearce, who escaped from nearby Sarah Island.

Onsite is also a shop/café with take away and pizza and a bottle shop. It’s a very easy place to stay about a 15 minute walk from the waterfront area or a few minutes from West Strahan Beach.

Click here to see the latest prices or read our full review here.

Click here to see all our recommendations for the best Strahan Accommodation.

How To Get To Strahan

Strahan

The best way to get to Strahan is by your own private car. If you need to hire one, click here for the latest prices.

It takes about 4.25 hours to drive to Strahan from Hobart or 2.75 hours from Devonport.

It’s also possible to take a public bus from Burnie, Queenstown or Zeehan.

Strahan With Kids

Strahan with kids, walk to Hogarth Falls
Mr 4 walking to Hogarth Falls

Strahan is a great place to visit with kids. Most attractions are very child friendly and there are plenty of reasons for kids to enjoy a trip here. Our sons especially enjoy the West Coast Wilderness Railway and the walk to Hogarth Falls worked well with them.

The Big4 Strahan Holiday Retreat is a great place for families to stay.

Final Words

Strahan

Strahan is always somewhere we love staying. It can feel like a long way from the rest of the world which is part of its appeal. Add in just how easy it is to be here with a list of low key attractions and two huge ones with the Gordon River Cruises and West Coast Wilderness Railway and there is a lot to love about a visit to Strahan.

There’s also a bit more action here than the other west coast towns which means more eating and activity options which suits us well.

If you want a great place to head on your Tasmanian road trip, definitely head to Strahan!

Find our full guides to neighbouring Zeehan here and Queenstown here. Read all our top guides to the western part of Tasmania here.

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon grew up in Tasmania, moved away and then came back with her family twenty years later. She loves re-discovering her home state and sharing it with you here.