Sarah Island
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Sarah Island
Sarah Island

Sarah Island

Sarah Island, Macquarie Harbor, Tasmania

The basics

Though the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station only operated on Sarah Island for just 11 years, it was by far the worst settlement of its kind for its inhospitable climate, lack of food, backbreaking work, and rampant disease. In an effort to address overcrowding in British prisons, only the worst convicts were sent to the island to endure their sentences, where several of them, unsuccessfully, tried to escape. Some convicts even preferred to be executed than continue to labor on the island. And at one point Sarah Island was the largest shipbuilding site in all of Australia thanks to its forced labor.

Today the wilds of the island have overgrown the ruins of the former penal settlement, though it is one of the most popular attractions for visitors staying in Strahan. The only way to access Sarah Island is on a ferry, chartered boat, or guided cruise. Be sure to snap a pic of Hell’s Gate on your way to the island.

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Things to know before you go

  • The weather on Tasmania’s west coast is often blustery and wet. Come prepared with the appropriate clothing even during the summer months.
  • A boardwalk links important sites across the island.
  • Most tours and outfitters are wheelchair-accessible.
  • Sarah Island is a protected part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
  • Cruise tours to the island typically serve food.
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How to get there

Tours to Sarah Island depart from Macquarie Harbor from the western Tasmanian town of Strahan, which is located 185 miles (297 kilometers) from the capital of Hobart. Private boats are available for hire, although most visitors choose to visit as part of a cruise tour.

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When to get there

The best time to visit Tasmania is from December and February during Australia’s summer. Though this is peak season for the region, it offers the best weather and temperatures for outdoor activities.

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Cruise the Gordon River

A popular pastime for visitors to the western coast of Tasmania is a cruise along the Gordon River. Included within the confines of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the river flows through a vast and wild area of the isolated island state.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the nearest attractions to Sarah Island?
Attractions near Sarah Island: