People on The Pillinger Explorer tour near Gordon River Cruise
The Pillinger Explorer

Discover the sights and stories

The historic town of Pillinger

On this exclusive group tour aboard MV Sophia, you will venture into the wilderness to discover the former mining town of Pillinger East, in Kelly Basin. Step ashore to wander the historic ruins that have slowly been reclaimed by rainforest. Then, make your way to Hells Gates at the mouth of Macquarie Harbour, pausing at a working fish farm along the way. Pay a visit to Bonnet Island to hear tales of lighthouse keepers past, as you enjoy views of Ocean Beach and beyond. Reccommended for adventure loving travellers and passionate historians. 

Please note a reasonable level of strength and fitness is required for this cruise and it is not suited to those with limited mobility. 

People in the lighthouse near Gordon River Cruise
  • Exclusive tour aboard MV Sophia, a 9.8m high-speed, open-deck motor cruiser, providing uninterupted views of the surrounding wilderness
  • Small groups with a maximum of 10 guests (min. 2 guests to depart) - departs daily
  • Walk around the ruins of the township of Pillinger
  • Fully guided experience
  • Interpretation from your guide, covering fascinating natural and human history and local environment
  • Fully catered, with morning tea and a chef-prepared gourmet lunch showcasing local produce 
  • A range of soft and alcoholic beverages are included


  • Adult: $260
  • Child: $125 (6-16 yrs)
  • Family (2A + 2C): $625


Please note, this tour is not suitable for guests with limited mobility or for children under 5 years old. Guests need to have a reasonable level of strength and fitness as they will be required to climb up and down a small ladder and step between the small vessel and wharf. These walks also encounter rough surfaces through the rainforest. 


  • 9:30am Depart Strahan and travel across Macquarie Harbour
  • 10:30am Arrive at Kelly Basin for a guided walk through the East Pillinger ruins before delighting in morning tea. 
  • 11:30am Depart East Pillinger to see West Pillinger wharf from the water
  • 12:00pm Depart Kelly Basin for Hells Gates - visit a fish farm on the way to Hells Gates
  • 12:45pm Arrive at Hells Gates and learn about the Breakwater Wall, Kawatiri Shoals and weather permitting, Cape Sorell Lighthouse
  • 1:15pm Berth at Bonnet Island. Photo opportunities from the viewing platform: Ocean Beach, Hells Gates and Entrance Island
  • 1:30pm Return to MV Sophia for lunch on board 
  • 2:00pm Depart Bonnet Island
  • 2:30pm Arrive at Strahan
People at The Pillinger Explorer tour near Gordon River Cruise
Sophia Vessel by the jetty near Gordon River Cruise

MV Sophia is a 9.8m high-speed, open-deck motor cruiser, giving small groups uninterrupted views of Macquarie Harbour, the Gordon River and surrounds during our cruises. She is also a flexible option for a range of private charters.