The Pieman River Cruise is regarded highly by our guests. Many have commented that it is the best river cruise they have taken. It offers at least as much as people would experience on the Gordon River, with excellent commentary, stunning reflections, freedom from other vessels and a truly personal experience with the river and rainforest. The cruise passes close to the wreck of the SS Croydon at the mouth of the Savage River and to Lover’s Falls near the mouth of the Donaldson. This is an uplifting and authentic experience, rich in history, nature and personal anecdotes.
The Arcadia II is a magnificent 17m craft built of huon pine in 1939. She has a leisurely cruising speed of 9 knots. Originally a luxury pleasure craft based in Hobart, it was requisitioned to serve in the Second World War in New Guinea as a supply ship. After some seasons as a scallop fishing boat on the East coast working from the Coles Bay area, the Arcadia was commissioned as a cruise boat on Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River in 1961. In 1970 she moved to Pieman River where she faithfully served her new owners, the Ellis brothers, who introduced the first regular cruises on the Pieman River.
The Arcadia II travelled to Launceston in 2006, where she was refurbished, refitted and returned to her original pristine condition. The journey out of the Heads and back, was the first since 1970. The Arcadia II is the only huon pine river cruiser still operating anywhere in the world.
There is debate over whether the river was named after Alexander Pearce or Thomas Kent. Alexander Pearce, “the pieman”, was a convict transported to Macquarie Harbour, who escaped, and killed and ate his companions to survive. Thomas Kent of Southampton, was a pastry-cook nicknamed the Pieman, who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1816. Both men had escapes that led to the Pieman area as far as many stories are concerned. The Pieman has a long history. The river was originally called the Retreat and was renamed the Pieman in 1823 by Captain James Kelly.
There was a time when schooners laden with huon pine left the river through the Heads, and when steamships, not much bigger than the Arcadia II, came up the river and discharged their cargoes at Corinna and the nearby Donaldson’s Landing.
We also offer a shorter Pieman River Cruise on another vessel called “Sweetwater”. The journey, in a smaller craft than the Arcadia, has the advantage of accessing the Savage River, where the wreck of the SS Croydon can be clearly seen at low tide, and of mooring at the board walk to Lover’s Falls – one of the signature experiences at Corinna. The return cruise on the Sweetwater takes in Hell’s Gates and the wedge tailed eagle’s nest on the Pieman, Lover’s Falls and the Savage River, at which point some guests often choose to walk back to Corinna along the Savage River walk. The Sweetwater experience is $50 for adults and $25 for children.
The coastal transect on the wild west coast between Granville Harbour and Pieman Head presents a pristine coastal system seen by very few people in the world.
For all guests who take the journey on the Arcadia II to Pieman Head, the return trip is an unforgettable experience. The skipper provides commentary on the unique history, flora and fauna, and takes the Arcadia close enough to the banks for guests to actually touch the ancient rainforest, including many specimens of huon pine. On the journey, it is not uncommon to see platypus and sea eagles, and always possible to see the rare and endangered slender tree fern.