The Pieman and Macquarie
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So, who was the pieman?

The Pieman River is believed to have got its name from convict Alexander Pearce who escaped from Sarah Island with a number of others. Having run out of food, Pearce proceeded to eat his companions!

Pearce was recaptured, but escaped again, only to revert to his canabalistic ways when the escapees again ran out of food.

And who was Macquarie?

Macquarie Harbour is named after Scottish Major General Lachlan Macquarie, the fifth Colonial Governor of New South Wales. 

A very sad beaching of hundreds of pilot whales happened in Macquarie Harbour in September 2020. Authorities and volunteers managed to rescue around 100 of the whales but many perished. 

If you would like to learn more about why whales beach themselves, this article will provide some information WARNING – GRAPHIC IMAGES

Western Explorer to Macquarie Harbour - Do you see what I see?

The Western Explorer road runs from the small settlement of Arthur River in Tasmania’s North West to Zeehan. The road runs through the Tarkine Wilderness area which is a temperate rain forest region.

The Western Explorer road is mainly gravel surface and travels through a variety of landscapes including the temperate rainforest, sand dunes and coastal heathland. There’s a bit of comic relief when you get to the car ferry at Corinna on the Pieman River.

Ferry sign for barge at Corinna on Pieman River
You have to have a sense of humour in these parts.

Corinna is worth a stop – there are some walks into the rain forest area and you can take various river cruises including one out to the head of the Pieman River. 

Pieman River
The Arcadia II, a huon pine cruise vessel on the Pieman River.

Next stop is Zeehan – once Tasmania’s third largest town when gold, silver and lead mining was at its peak. There’s a mining museum here to celebrate the past glory.  Now, only 700 people live in the town. 

Zeehan, Tasmania
The post office at Zeehan - an indication of the town's glorious past.

Next stop was Strahan on Macquarie Harbour. The boat entry into the harbour from the Southern Ocean is treacherous – no wonder it’s called Hells Gates

Hells Gates
Macquarie Harbour was used to house the worst of the worst convicts in the early settlement days. Convicts were brought here by sailing ship from Hobart. The name of the narrow entrance to the harbour relates to the original convicts' claim that it was their point of 'entrance to Hell', their Hell being the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station on Sarah Island and the outlying surrounds of the harbour

There’s an interesting huon pine display on the shore at Strahan. Huon pine is a famous boat making timber that does not degrade in water. When we were there there was a huge huon pine log on the jetty, probably reclaimed from the water upstream on the Gordon River. It’s now illegal to cut down this timber.

We enjoyed our cruise on Macquarie Harbour. Out to the heads, past the salmon cages that  are now a major industry in the harbour, a visit to the old convict penal settlement on Sarah Island, and up the Gordon River.

And to top it all off – we had a feed of local crayfish that night.

Sarah Island
Remnants of the old penal colony on Sarah Island. The colony was active during the years 1822 to 1833 and again for a few years from 1846.
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