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On Walkabout At: Strathgordon, Tasmania

Next Posting: Southwest Australia & Lake Pedder

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The only settlement in the remote Tasmanian Southwest National Park is the tiny village of Strathgordon that lies between Lake Pedder to the south and Lake Gordon to the north:

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Strathgordon really isn’t much of a village because it is very small with very few amenities and is basically just a place for dam workers that mostly rotate through this remote area to live:

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The village was constructed in the late 1960’s as a place to at first house the dam construction workers and then reverted into its current role of a place for dam maintenance workers to stay.  Hydro.com has an excellent history of Strathgordon for those looking for more information about this unique village.

For me the most interesting thing in Strathgordon was this display of Tasmania’s famous Huon Pine tree:

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Here is a brief history about the huon pine from Discover Tasmania:

Huon pine is one of the slowest-growing and longest-living plants in the world. It can grow to an age of 3,000 years or more. Only the bristle-cone pine of North America lives longer.Huon pine is found in western Tasmania (not far from Strahan), on the Central Plateau and in the Huon Valley.

Huon pine is a relic of Gondwana – the first pollen records date back 135 million years.

International headlines were made with the discovery of a stand of Huon pines on the west coast still growing from a base root more than 10,000 years old. All the trees are male and are genetically identical. No individual tree in the stand is 10,000 years old; rather, the stand itself has been in existence for that long.

In the early 1820s, convicts on Sarah Island, in Tasmania’s remote west, constructed ships from Huon pine. The wood contains oil that retards the growth of fungi, hence its early popularity in ship-building. Later, piners on the Franklin and Gordon rivers felled Huons and floated them downstream.

Today, the tree is wholly protected and cannot be felled. However, wood on the forest floor, or buried in river beds, remains usable after hundreds of years and is still prized by modern woodworkers.  [Discover Tasmania]

Some long time readers may remember I have written about the infamous prison colony on Sarah Island before.  A closer look at this ancient pine’s tree rings shows just how much world history this tree has seen:

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You can click the picture for a larger close up to read the markers.  The final thing my wife and I did in Strathgordon was taking a walk along the shore of Lake Pedder and just enjoy the rugged mountain scenery that surrounded this small outpost of civilization in the wild southwest of Tasmania:

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After finishing our walk along the land we then decided to take highway B61 to its very end to see the Gordon Dam.  Along the way on B61 there was a lookout that provided a stunning view of Lake Pedder:

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We continued down B61 until we came upon the Gordon Dam Power Station:

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As beautiful as Lake Pedder is, Lake Gordon is the exact opposite because from here you can easily see what a toll the “green power” produced by the hydroelectric dam has had on the Tasmanian environment:

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Trust me the environmental damage looks even worse in person.  At the very end of the road is the Gordon Dam that is responsible for the altered environment in this area of Southwest Tasmania:

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What surprised me was that this dam wasn’t very big compared to other dams I have seen, in particular Hoover Dam, which easily dwarfs this dam:

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Running from the dam was a small creek of water that composes the Gordon River:

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At one time this river must have been a heck of a rafting trip through these incredibly steep mountains that surrounded the dam:

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I walked down to the dam where visitors can walk across it:

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If visiting the dam I highly recommend walking across it because it really does give you a better appreciation of how big this dam is.  Here is the view from the dam looking back towards Lake Gordon:

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The reason the surrounding shores of Lake Gordon appear so damaged is because the water level in this lake is allowed to fluctuate to power the dam while Lake Pedder’s water level must remain at a constant level.  Down the road from Gordon Dam is the McPartlan Pass Canal, which links Lake Gordon to Lake Pedder and allows one lake to keep a constant water level at the expense of the other:

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The Gordon Dam is the end of B61 and so after our visit we turned around and headed back down the highway and looked for a further adventure into the wilds of Southwest Tasmania:

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Next Posting: Into the Wilds of Southwest Tasmania

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