People enjoying the mountain view from Gordon River Cruise

Photography on the Gordon River – Tips and Tricks

View of Moss in the Tasmanian wilderness at Gordon River Cruise
View of the lighthouse & sea near Gordon River Cruise
View of the river and forest near Gordon River Cruise
Strahan Tasmania at Strahan Village near Gordon River Cruise

Photography tips for cruising in Tasmania's World Heritage Area

The Gordon River on Tasmania’s west coast is a paradise for photographers and the Gordon River Cruise places you in some of the best locations to get that hero photograph. The combination of natural tannins from buttongrass plains give the Gordon River’s water the appearance of tea and ensure it has a remarkable reflective quality, making for mirror-like images.

Beyond the signature reflections however, there are a number of other scenes that will catch your attention.  Here is a list of the best locations from which you can take that memorable photo to compliment your lifelong memory of cruising in Tasmania’s UNESCO Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Hells Gates

As one of the first major points of interest on your wilderness cruise, Hells Gates makes for a perfect location to shoot some spectacular photos. You’ll have easy access to the outdoor decks on the Lady Jane Franklin II so make use of this (maybe with a jacket on!) and step out on to the bow to shoot with the morning sun as you approach Bonnet Island and Hells Gates.  If you’re fortunate enough to cruise out into the open ocean and look back to Hells Gates to see the view convicts once saw as they were bound for Sarah Island, think about using a UV filter as you will be shooting into the morning sun and there will be light bouncing off the water into your lens.

Macquarie Harbour

As you cruise along Macquarie Harbour in a south-easterly direction, you’ll enjoy views of views from the bow of the Lady Jane Franklin II, of various mountain ranges to your east.  These include the Princes Range and the Deception Range, with the most recognisable peak being Frenchman’s Cap, a large, imposing quartzite dome that is revered amongst bushwalkers.  Pull out your telephoto lens and if you have an image stabilizer, this is the time to use it.  You’ll find these images might need some editing as you juggle the different shades of blue in this frame.  It is worth it though as these mountains provide a rugged backdrop to the harbor and make you realise there really is an expanse of wilderness ahead of you.

The Gordon River

One of the main reasons to cruise the Gordon River is to see the magnificent reflections of ancient rainforest in the deep, slow moving waters of this wilderness river.  When you cruise with Gordon River Cruises, you will enjoy being the first cruise guests on the river for the day and have the best chance of seeing these reflections.  This is a good opportunity to use a wide-angle lens to capture as much of the scene as possible. Remember to be careful of the contrast between the dark rainforest and the sky as this can be hard to capture effectively.  If you are shooting photos on a mobile phone and you want to shoot a panorama, remember to shoot from the bow of the Lady Jane Franklin II as the vessel’s wake will disrupt your image.  Take your time with these photos as they’ll make for great memories once you are back home and planning your next Tassie visit!

Heritage Landing

Stepping ashore at Heritage Landing within the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, you will take in the ancient rainforest firsthand, including seeing the famous Huon Pine, a relic of the Tasmanian landscape. While you are exploring Heritage Landing, you’ll see opportunities to shoot photos of the different and very interesting types of plant species as well as the rainforest scenes. Keep in mind that the available light in the rainforest is often less than outside on the river and you may need to rest your camera on the railing around the boardwalk in order to take a steady and sharp photograph.  A macro lens is also an enjoyable piece of equipment to have access to here, with some of the close-up scenes of moss, bark, fungus and leaves making for very interesting imagery. 

Sarah Island

When you step back in time on Sarah Island, you will immediately realise that your photos will focus on the convict history of this spooky and amazing place.  Looking over the ruins, there are some very photogenic scenes of crumbling convict-era buildings surrounded by the island’s vegetation. Think about adjusting your colour settings for these photos, as the red in the brick won’t always show as vibrantly as it does bye eye, especially if the sunlight is direct or there are shadows in your frame. When composing photos on Sarah Island, consider the layers that you might include in the shot. For example, foreground of vegetation, featured ruins, background of water and forest on the other side of Macquarie Harbour.

Other tips

If you are planning on taking photos with your family or friends included, some bright clothing can provide a nice contrast with the tones of the water on the Gordon River and the rainforest.  Also, be prepared to shoot your photos in dull light or under a cloudy sky.  This part of Tasmania receives variable weather and cloudy skies are not uncommon.  Lastly, if you cruise in the rain, don’t be disheartened as these moody scenes can sometimes provide the best light and most emotive images.