Our visit to Strahan was made complete with one of the most fascinating cruises we had ever been on! We were inundated with recommendations to visit World Heritage Cruises in Strahan – a locally owned and run business that have delivered incredible experiences for families for over 100 years! We knew we could not visit Tasmania without a visit to this region – known around the world for it’s Huon Pine and convict history.
We hit the dock at 2.30pm as requested by the friendly staff at the ticket booth. Tickets in hand, we made our way next door to “Morrisons” Tiber yard. There are now only 2 places left that are allowed to cut Huon Pine. This timber is absolutely beautiful. The colour. The odour. The Huon Pine is now a protected tree due to the time it takes for these trees to grow. Logging for these trees stopped in 1970. Once you had cut your trees, you branded them with your timber branding, and then you could go back to get it down the track to collect it. Morrisons have a tree there that still has their branding on the end of it. All this and we had not even boarded the boat yet! At this point, we were already impressed…
Once the tour of the timber mill finished we grabbed our tickets and boarded the Harbour Master. This Vessel was a 4 level vessel. Built and completed in March 2016 in Hobart, this vessel is 34.95 meters in length. It has 8 crew and has a passenger capacity of 218 guests. Beautiful Leather Seats, all colour coded as to the amount you paid. If you got the cheaper seats you sat on the bottom deck in the middle, if you paid the extra you sat on the top deck at a window seat. We tried all the seats and the views were amazing from all of them.
Both passenger levels had a bain marie where lunch or dinner was served. We were lucky enough to be on the last Dinner cruise for the season (most of the cruise times are for lunch, except for a limited time over Christmas/January) Toilets were situated on the second deck. The upper deck was where you feel on top of the world with full views and access to the wheel house.
On the first deck we also found a small play room. This small, but effective, kids play area hosted a large TV on the wall, DVD player, kids blocks and books. We were not aware of this addition and it turned out to be one of the kids favourite spots throughout the cruise – leaving the grown ups to enjoy the peace. Very cleverly designed.
On the top deck was a seating area for passengers and the skipper. You were told very early in on the trip that you were welcome to go see the ship from his view and have a chat to him at any point throughout the trip. The day we set on our voyage we had Guy. A local through and through. Guy and his brother have been operating this company since 1991 and are currently 5th generation running the World Heritage Cruises. They started originally working with their father before starting their own business once dad had retired, with only a small vessel. This vessel (The Heritage Wanderer) was upgraded in 1996 by a larger vessel, (the Wanderer 11) and then again in 1999, with (Wanderer 111) It was then upgraded once again in 2002 with (Adventurer) and 2016 to (Harbour Master) which is what you see today. A grand catamaran that can plough through the ocean at 35 knots but has a cruising speed of around 26 knots.
As Guy was our Captain for the day, it was very interesting listening to him over the P.A. system of his knowledge of the local area. He told us everything from what hill was what, to what landmark was near, and islands that you could see. He told us the heritage of the Port, what happened back in the day and why. Where ships had sunk and many many other interesting facts.
This part for the cruise was fascinating! Coupled with a delicious ‘real’ coffee and cake, we were all having a ripper day. Little did we know that the best was yet to come!
We pulled up at Sarah island and had Michael as our tour guide. WOW is an understatement. Although he was not a local, the knowledge of the island and the manor in which he ‘delivered’ his tour was second to none. Theatrical, engaging, informative. The BEST tour guide we have ever come across. We thought we knew a lot about convict history, however our tour of Sarah Island blew both our minds and made us realise that we actually knew very little.
The history of Sarah Island pre dated Port Arthur and was AMAZING! The tour of the island took around 1 hour, and as we were walking around listening to him, Sarah and the crew were busy on board setting up dinner.
We left Sarah Island and cruised on up the Gordon River while we had dinner. Dinner… Oh My. What a cracker of a job they do. Simple yet yummy. Fresh salads, bread, cheese, crackers and local salmon. They certainly did look after you. We were feeling so good, we had a bubbles with our dinner and could not wipe the smiles off our faces.
After dinner, our tour left convict history and heading into Pining History. We made another stop at the World Heritage landing, where Hayley took us on a short 300 meter tour explaining a bit more history of the Huon Pine.
Back on the boat, dinner was cleared, and we started the trip home. A movie was started, a documentary style film about logging, pining and Huon Pine. local history recorded by locals.
The sunset was sensational.
You will need to budget for this cruise as it was one of the more expensive experiences we did whilst in Tasmania. In saying that, it is worth every…single…cent and afterwards we found it to be super valuable. The team from World Heritage Cruises give you everything for your dollar. They will answer any questions you may have, and they will do it with a smile. Nothing is to hard for them. Everything is a pleasure. The boat is licenced so you can have a drink with your meal, or just have a drink. They also offer non alcoholic beverages, including tea, coffee snacks and slices, which were some of the best slices that we have tried. We can’t tell you which one. You will just have to find out for yourselves.
The only thing you need to remember with this cruise is one thing.
RED BOAT! It’s the RED BOAT!
If you remember this, you will not be disappointed. If you have followed us for a while you will know that we are huge supporters of local, family run businesses and World Heritage Cruises ticked all these boxes. A locally owned and operated business for over 100 years!
This was a highlight of our caravanning adventure in Tasmania – one that we can now highly recommend!