RDP: River

The Wild River

We have a lot of rivers in Tasmania, so many that much of our power comes from hydro-electric power plants.

Tungatinah Power Station

It was the proposed damming of a river, the Franklin, in the southwest of the state that led to the blockade of the river in the summer of 1982-83. It is quite an involved story starting further back when the Hydro-Electric Commission (HEC)  built a dam which caused the flooding of  Lake Pedder, a renowned beauty spot, in 1972.

When the state government of the day proposed to dam the Franklin River the newly formed Tasmanian Wilderness Society began their campaign to save it. It’s a long story that has more to do with politics than with rivers but it is interesting reading so I’ll include a link to an article by Professor Clive Hamilton who tells the story much better than I can.

Below is Peter Dombrovskis famous photo taken on the Franklin and used by the Tasmanian Wilderness Society to publicise the issue.

Rock island bend.jpg
By National Library of Australia nla.pic-an6631500-v, Fair use, Link

image canoe
Peter Dombrovskis’ Canoe-TMAG, Hobart

I do remember the blockade. We were still living in South Australia and every night the news would have stories sent from this tiny place, Strahan, that we had never heard of before then. Many celebrities, Australian and international including Sir Yehudi Menuhin, ­Barry Humphries, Eartha Kitt, Dick Smith, and ­David Bellamy took part in the blockade beside ordinary people from every state in Australia. David and I watched the news and cheered for the blockaders many of whom were arrested and when they refused to keep away from the river as part of their bail conditions were removed to jail in Hobart.

In the end, a Federal Labor government was elected in early 1983 and one of their first acts was to stop the dam from being built.

An old HEC logo in the visitor centre in Strahan

When we first visited Strahan many years later I learned at the visitor centre how the whole issue had divided families. To this day there are still people who believe that dam should have been built but the Franklin is still a wild river. I’ve never seen it but I’m happy knowing it is there. I have cruised on the Gordon River which flows into it. The point where the two rivers join was one of the proposed sites for the dam.

Gordon River, Tasmania

Further Reading:






A Photo A Week Challenge: Small Towns


Strahan is a small town on the west coast of Tasmania on the shores of Macquarie Harbour. It is a popular tourist destination these days due to the stunning scenery of mountains, rivers and rainforest. I’ve visited there several times, most recently nearly five years ago, and it is one of my favourite places in Tasmania. Strahan is one of Tasmania’s most isolated towns as it is several hours drive from both Launceston and Hobart.

The area has an interesting history which I may write about in another post. I have provided a couple of links at the end of this one.

Early morning view of Strahan taken from our hotel in the Strahan Village.


Strahan Tasmania
Strahan Tasmania
Hamers Hotel in the main street of Strahan.


Cruise Booking Office
The place to book a cruise on the Gordon River or steam train trip to Queenstown.



Gordon River, Tasmania
Gordon River, Tasmania

In the early years of the colony the British government ordered the worst behaved convicts to be housed on Sarah Island a small settlement in Macquarie Harbour. If you take a cruise on the Gordon River you have the opportunity to step ashore and imagine what kind of place it was to live. My visits to the area have nearly all been in autumn or winter and believe me it gets cold and wet down there.

 Sarah Island Penal Colony
The ruins of the Sarah Island Penal Colony can still be seen here.

Strahan is the terminus of the West Coast Wilderness Railway. The railway was originally built to bring tin from the mines around Queenstown to the port at Strahan.



The station at Regatta Point, the Strahan terminus.
The station at Regatta Point, the Strahan terminus.


 West Coast Wilderness Railway
Locomotive on the West Coast Wilderness Railway near Strahan

Further Reading:



Photo Thursday – Strahan, Tasmania

Macquarie Harbour
Two years ago this week Hubby and I along with my best friend and her husband spent a weekend in Strahan to celebrate our birthdays which are two weeks apart. I’ve shared pictures taken on this trip before. Here is another taken from our hotel balcony in Strahan.