Macquarie Harbour (Chart: AUS 177) should be visited by all Tasmanians, especially those with an affinity for boats.
There is a mass of water to explore and that’s not counting the picturesque waters of the Gordon River.
Whether you have a displacement boat or trailer boat, there is plenty to see. Travelling to the Harbour in a displacement boat can take time from the major population areas and you need a window in the weather to ensure you can get in through Hells Gates without difficulty.
Owners of trailer boats can tow their rigs easily from the north or the south of the State. Yes, it may take some time, but once there the scenery and cruising is magnificent and well worth the effort.
There are three ramps at Strahan. One at Meredith Street, one on The Esplanade and one at the Heads near the camping ground. Berthing facilities for larger boats are also available near the cruise boat berths. You should contact Tasports to arrange your berth and fuel is also available. If towing your boat it may be worthwhile doing so with an empty fuel tank, less weight and easier towing. Top up when you get to Strahan.
More and more people are also travelling to Strahan to explore the Harbour and the Gordon River. Again, weather is critical as the Harbour can become extremely rough in westerly weather conditions. An easterly gradient in a high pressure system on the east coast is ideal and this allows a safe passage down the Harbour to the various anchorages. Strahan relies heavily on tourism and aquaculture and recently approval was given to increase the size of the fish farms on the harbour. These will be marked in a line with east and west cardinal marks. Anyone wishing to cruise the Harbour should make themselves aware of the location of the leases and the markings. Have a look at the Notices to Mariners to make yourself aware of the latest updates.
Anchorages of interest include Farm Cove and Kelly Basin. These are on the eastern side of the Harbour close to the entrance to the Gordon River. Between these anchorages you can seek shelter from winds from all directions however it is best to seek some local knowledge on Farm Cove. Birches Inlet is a fantastic anchorage which again gives shelter from all winds. Double Cove is another popular anchorage in westerly conditions.
The jewel is, however, the Gordon River. You can travel up the river for miles. There is a 5 knot speed limit and you should always be on alert for the cruise boats, however these are not allowed past Heritage Landing.
Fuel supplies may be an issue in smaller boats so make sure you do your sums prior to leaving Strahan as you may need to take extra fuel with you. If in a trailer boat it may even be a good idea to plan it with others as bit of extra security and safety.
A steep chop can develop at the mouth of the Gordon in strong NW winds. Remember, no matter what size boat you have, you should always check the weather and stay in a good anchorage if you are unsure about leaving.
It is not unusual for boats as small as 5.5 metres to travel down the Harbour to spend time on the Gordon River.
There are some sensational areas around the State that will open up for you but remember to make your plans and be flexible in case of poor weather.
Wherever you intend to cruise in Tasmania, ensure your planning is complete and remember, purchase a “bible” to give you all the useful reference information you require. Enjoy our waterways.