Beyond the wild west coast of Tasmania there is nothing but wide expanses of ocean to the southern tip of Argentina, on the other side of the globe. The region is subject to the crushing force of the “Roaring Magpies— – the name given to the mighty winds raging in the southwestern part of the Southern Ocean.
Tasmanian aborigines lived in this hostile environment for thousands of years before European convicts were exiled here in the 1820s, who settled here. Their harsh and remote settlement was the penal colony on Sarah Island, located in the middle of Macquarie Harbor.
The name of the passage to the harbor “Gates of Hell” reflects the conditions in which both sailors and convicts found themselves: shipwrecks, drownings, suicides and murders – everything happened here. Abandoned in 1833 for the sake of the “model prison” of Port Arthur, Sarah Island and the ruins of the penal colony can be viewed with an organized boat tour from the fishing port of Strehen.
Strehen rose thanks to the ancient timber industry based on the labor of convicts. It became widely known in the early 1980s, when protesters from all over Australia came here to fight the government’s plans to flood the wild and beautiful Franklin River according to the hydroelectric scheme. An exciting exhibition at the Strahan Tourist Center shows the drama of the most famous act of environmentalists in Australia.
Today, Strehen is one of the coziest cities in Tasmania with old wooden buildings, a picturesque port and a natural environment of rugged mountains and plains covered with dense bush. The newest attraction is the railway, built back in 1896 and stretching for 35 km along rivers and mountains to the old mining village of Queenstown.