Macquarie Harbour in Tasmania – fishing, sailing, trains and hiking

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
87 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
Length of time
3-4 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 500
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
6th/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 5% SUMMARY RATING: Unmissable


Some may be a bit surprised as to why Macquarie Harbour gets such a high score, especially considering the world-class travel experiences that share this placing in the rankings.  To explain it, and why it is such a gem, consider a few factors:

  1. It is the world’s #1 UNESCO World Heritage site – Macquarie Harbour sits within the Tasmanian Wilderness Area, the isolated south west part of Tasmania that has gained UNESCO World Heritage Status.  In order to gain World Heritage status a site must meet 1 of the 10 UNESCO criteria for outstanding universal value, of which there are 6 for cultural and 4 for natural.  The Tasmania Wilderness Area meets 7 of those 10 criteria (4 cultural and 3 natural)- along with Tai Shan in China, it has the highest measurement of any site globally
  2. World class activities to see the area – the Gordon River Cruise and the West Coast Wilderness Railway are must-dos for the area and allow you to see the fantastic harbour and hidden abandoned logging towns in style.  And to a level of service quality that is a pleasant surprise considering how much in the wilderness it to be . . . and with a drink as you do so which always helps!  Add to that the fishing from Hell’s Gates where the second largest harbour in the southern hemisphere empties into the ocean and the wonderful hiking nearby, and you have some fantastic activities to help you see the area
  3. Fewer fellow tourists – whether it is the 4 hour driving distance from the major towns of Hobart or Launceston, the worry about the infamous Tasmania weather, or just that Tasmania in general doesn’t get huge tourist numbers, you will find relatively few fellow tourists for such a big area
  4. It is a place of wonderful natural extremes – the harbour is huge (more than six times the size of Sydney Harbour), the trees are super tall (Tasmania has 5 of the top 10 tallest tree species in the world), the rainwater and river water is the purest in the world  . . . and the sun’s UV rating is often the strongest in the world (yep, wear sunscreen)
  5. Its really is just beautiful – the lush greens of the rainforest, the whites of the sand, the multicoloured water with its tannins giving dark browns, reds and crystal clear.  Just beautiful

3 days basing yourself in Strahan – a truly wonderful experience at the edge of the world


#1 Heading off for a tour of Macquarie Harbour and its surrounding islands in style on the premier upper deck with Gordon River Cruises

#2 Taking the steam train on the West Coast Wilderness Railway to explore some of the abandoned old logging stations and villages hidden away in the rainforest

#3 Heading into the rainforest to see some of famous Huon Pines, some of the tallest trees in the world and the trees the British Royal Navy used for their tallest ship's masts

#4 Seeing, and swimming in, the gorgeously coloured tannin-infused waters that come rushing into the harbour from the many rivers of the area. If not to your taste, don't worry, its crystal clear in many places as well

#5 Fishing off the Hell's Gates - the tiny 200m / 650ft fast flowing entrance that is the entry route to the giant Macquarie Harbour

#6 Hiking some of the nearby mountains with their stunning settings

#7 Staying in the very cute and friendly village of Strahan, which is the place to base yourself for all adventure around the harbour

#8 The world-class beaches and their magnificent west-facing sunsets

#9 The wildlife - Tasmanian Devils, Echidnas, Duck-billed Platypus and . . . in this case . . . Blue Tongued Lizards

#10 Visiting The Whale's Graveyard just near the entrance to Macquarie Harbour and seeing the sheer scale of these giants

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone