Going through the Gates of Hell

Welcome to Hell!

Hells Gates in Tasmania

You might be interested in why such a beautiful area is called Hells Gates.

Hells Gates is the name of the mouth of Macquarie Harbour on the West Coast of Tasmania. It is a notoriously shallow and dangerous channel entrance to the harbour.

It was given this name by the convicts who were sent to the penal colony, as they felt it was like entering hell as they were taken through the heads of the harbour. Source

In some ways they probably were entering hell. Tasmania was very much a penal colony in the early days when European settlement started. The Aboriginals had managed to live there for 40000+ years before they arrived though.

Lighting up the world at Hell's Gates
Lighting up the world at Hells Gates

We visited Tasmania in 2017 and had an absolute ball during our 2 week stay. We had taken our car, with our bikes, over on the ferry from Melbourne, and had a loose plan of what we wanted to see and do. I wrote a series of posts about our Tour de Tassie travels back then and this top 10 tips post was a favourite – Top 10 Tips for two weeks of Travelling in Tasmania

The Gordon River Cruise was 5.5 hours on the Lady Jane Franklin II, which I was pleased to hear was designed to have minimal impact on the environment.  The cruise took us out through Hells Gates in Macquarie Harbour, past the fish farms and up the Gordon River to Heritage Landing, where we walked amongst the ancient rainforest and saw huge Huon Pines still growing.  Hells Gates were so named by convicts as they came through the heads of the harbour and was perhaps a reflection of the life they knew was ahead for them.


The reflections on the water were magnificent and the whole area was very moving and ethereal especially with the low cloud.  We went ashore at Sarah Island and explored the convict ruins with an entertaining tour guide.  The stories are fantastic and would make great works of fiction except they’re true! It was an unforgettable day with the journey through the World Heritage Wilderness into the pristine temperate rainforests of the Gordon River, a real highlight.

Deb’s World Tour de Tassie #4 – The Wild and Wonderful West Coast

The Gordon River Tasmania

The Gordon River is a beautiful area with a great history. I vaguely remember the hue and cry, and the protests that resulted in the Franklin River being saved from being flooded for the proposed damming of the Gordon River in the 1980s.  The area is now safely a part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area. Floating serenely through some of the area, and seeing and feeling the beauty, I am so glad this was the end result.

This week the theme for Terri’s Sunday Stills is Gates, and I’m thrilled to share these photos with you.

I always enjoy hearing your thoughts.

Have a great week ahead.

Debbie 🙂

All my Sunday Stills posts can be found here – all photos by me

Sunday Stills photo challenge

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18 Replies to “Going through the Gates of Hell”

  1. Absolutely gorgeous photos tempting me to visit New Zealand. This harbour doesn’t look like it should be called The Gates of Hell but it must have felt like that to the ship’s crew and the convicts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely photos Deb, and fascinating history.
    New York City has a Hell’s Gate in the harbor, know for its swirling currents…as well as a Hell’s Kitchen which was the immigrant slum of history’s fame.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your images are always lovely, and your commentary interesting. I must admit the area does look a bit treacherous, and I imagine not all the convicts made it to the penal colony if a mishap occurred in route.

    I also imagine that once they got there by boat, they were there with little hope of escape from whatever awaited them. After all, this is not what you’d readily imagine when you think of a “gated” community. So yeah, I can definitely understand why they felt “hell” more than described their fate!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you, the despair must have been palpable. They were dark days indeed. Thanks for your response to my take on the challenge, I always try hard to think of something that fits the prompt but is out of the box a little bit.

      Like

  4. Your post brought back memories of our time spent in Tassie. The whole island is stunning. I too remembered with gratitude the protests over the Gordon below Franklin dam in the 80s. Thank goodness the protesters won out.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Isn’t Strahan a fantastic spot in Tasmania? I remember going a boat trip through the Gates of Hell and it was a big highlight of our trip to Tassie. The scenery and history around the Wild West of Tassie is astonishing.

    Liked by 1 person

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