Thursday, May 6, 2010


‘I call this Gordon River chardonnay,’ says my new friend, David Goodfellow, holding up a glass of golden liquid.

I sniff it. Nup! Not like any chardy I’ve ever tried. I taste it. Definitely not a chardonnay.

Bewildered, I ask: What is it?

Well, it turns out I am drinking river water. But not from just any old river. This is the famed and fabulous Gordon River in western Tasmania, passing through a World Heritage region of the highest order.

The air is clearer here than possibly anywhere else in the world. We are in a pristine wilderness rainforest environment. It’s pure. It’s green on green. And constantly dripping with some of the couple of metres of rain that falls each year here.

So what’s with the brown water? You see, now I know it’s not chardonnay, it looks more brown to me, rather than golden.

‘It’s tannin,’ says David, ‘from the buttongrass. It stains it.’

And what does it taste like? Absolutely nothing, I have to admit.

I guess he could call it rainforest ‘tea’, then, if he wanted to, although it is not being marketed as anything yet. No one has caught on to the obvious sales pitch of ‘World Heritage Water’ or some-such, which is a surprise as Tasmanians are an entrepreneurial bunch. After all, someone on King Island in Bass Strait to the north of the island captures rain and markets it as Cloud Juice!

I doubt anyone has analysed this ‘chardonnay’ to get at its properties, but I am guessing antioxidants could be there, which might make it attractive to healthy types.

Right now the only place you’ll ever be able to taste this is on a cruise along the river from Strahan, a delightful picture book village about halfway down the west coast of Tasmania tucked up on the inner edge of the vast Macquarie Harbour which – get this – is over SIX TIMES the size of Sydney Harbour.

David Goodfellow is the manager of Gordon River Cruises, a company which offers passengers an unforgettable escape along one of the world’s quietest, most breathtaking and serenely beautiful waterways.

Funny thing, the water we are travelling on looks dark blue in the sunlight, but in my glass it is undeniably brown.

Oh, OK David – maybe it’s a bit golden. Perhaps it is a little like chardonnay!