Tasmania’s wild west Tarkine Wilderness
Nestled in the North-West corner of Tasmania, you will find the expanse of temperate rainforest, that is the Tarkine Wilderness. This region remains a hidden treasure that expands some 477,000 hectares across uninterrupted wilderness.
Not only is it home to the largest temperate rainforest in Australia and second in the world, but is alive with unique creatures and habitats not found anywhere else, housing ancient relics of both plants and animals dating back millennia.
Here you can explore vast forests of myrtle, leatherwood and pine trees and engage with them as living links to Gondwanaland that it shared with Patagonia, Papua-New Guinea and New Zealand. Embark on an adventure with walks, self-guided drives, river cruises or visiting the amazing natural sights.
Corinna Wilderness Experience
Due to the remoteness of the Tarkine Wilderness, you will need a place to stay when visiting, and you can’t go past Corinna Wilderness Experience. The eco-friendly retreat once was a mining town, set in the pristine rainforest on the banks of the majestic Pieman River in Western Tasmania. It was inhabited by white settlers in 1881 and proclaimed a town in 1894, following a flood of people coming to the area in pursuit of gold. The township of Corinna (in the Pieman River State Reserve) is singularly placed in Tasmania’s history as a unique example of a remote mining town that has survived.
The accommodation uses as much of the original town buildings as possible, including the original Roadman’s cottage with a double bed, the old pub which is like a guest house (with single and double rooms) available for groups and sixteen new wilderness retreats built in the original style. The rooms are rustic with a charming air of yesteryear. You can almost picture yourself in the era when the gold rush was booking here. There is a fireplace in the living room, so in winter it heats the entire cottage. There is a full kitchen with a cooktop stove, fridge and tea and coffee supplies.
There are no TVs in the rooms, nor will you find phone reception and internet. You will be completely disconnected, forcing you to relax into “switching off” and tune in to nature instead. This very factor enhances the connection to the surrounding wilderness even more. If you are quiet when sitting on the back deck, you may find some friendly locals visiting like pademelons or possums.
Wildlife spotting in the Tarkine
The raw wilderness of this region makes wildlife abundant, with a rich variety of animals including platypus, echidna, wombat, bandicoot, possum and glider – not to mention the famous Tasmanian Devil and Tasmania’s other carnivorous predators, the Spotted-tailed Quoll and Eastern Quoll.
However, some elusive creatures will be more of a challenge to spot because their numbers have sadly decreased to the point they have been classified as endangered. It is in the Tarkine that the now officially extinct thylacine, commonly called the Tasmanian tiger, was last spotted. In 1937, when the rare marsupial had finally been protected, the land between the Arthur and Pieman Rivers was proposed as a thylacine sanctuary. While there have been unconfirmed sightings of the Tasmanian Tiger in the region, perhaps the Tarkine has been guarding it all along. So keep your eyes peeled as you never know what you may find.
While hard to spot, there are some species of animals and birds in the region that are endangered and a treasure to find. So keep an eye out and the camera ready to capture one of these treasures.
The Orange-bellied Parrot is critically endangered and with fewer than 70 birds remaining in the wild, it is one of Australia’s most threatened bird species. Males are emerald/grassy green on their back, wings and flanks with a bright yellow chest, azure blue markings on their wings and brow, and a vivid orange patch on their belly. The female has a duller colouration, with less blue and has a smaller orange belly patch. They have a distinctive buzzing alarm call.
Chances are you may hear the Tasmanian devil’s spine-chilling screeches before you come across it. Although only the size of a small dog, it can sound and look incredibly fierce. It is estimated that the Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease has now affected over half of the populations in Tasmania. Luckily, there is no recorded presence of the disease in the high-density devil population of the Tarkine region. As you drive through the area you will often encounter ripple strips across the road, designed to scare the nocturnal scavengers away from passing traffic, so be especially aware of slowing down at dawn and dusk.
When by the water, keep a lookout for the Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish, the largest freshwater invertebrate in the world. The species is only found in Tasmania and is listed as endangered due to habitat loss and overfishing. The species is mainly found in Tasmanian rivers flowing north into the Bass Strait (apart from the Tamar) as well as the Arthur River catchment.
The magnificent Tasmanian Wedge-Tailed Eagle is a subspecies of the wedge-tailed eagle, the largest and most familiar of the Australian raptors. It is unfortunately classified as endangered, with only 200 to 230 breeding pairs left in the world. You will notice the eagle as it is biggest, with a wingspan that can reach 2.5 metres. It has a large, dark raptor with a pale bill and distinctive, long wedge-shaped tail.
Adventures in the Tarkine
Adventures in the Tarkine are as wild as the region itself, providing an archipelago of experiences. From land to water, you will be lost in the remoteness and beauty of the region. There is a range of unique wilderness experiences, including cruises on the Pieman River in the legendary Huon pine vessel MV Arcadia II, kayaking, walking, boating, fishing, bird watching and nature experiences.
Forest walks and hikes vary in length and difficulty. Most walks will take in picturesque lookouts and places to stop for a break and picnic. From the township of Corinna, the Whyte River Walk takes you into the pristine temperate rainforest. With boardwalks placed in wet areas, this walk takes around an hour and a half as it takes you into the stunning beauty of the river and rainforest ecosystem. The 20 minute Huon Pine Walk is one of the easiest from Corinna and is accessible by wheelchairs. Longer hikes include the 3km trek to the Savage River, the Mt Donaldson hike (4 hour return trip), and the Philosophers Falls (moderate 2hrs hike) to name a few.
If you prefer to explore by boat, then the Pieman Cruise is perfect for this. Step onboard the Arcadia II and cruise the near-black waters of the Pieman River towards the ocean and visit the wild west coastline. The Arcadia II is a magnificent 17m ship built of huon pine in 1939 and listed on the Australian Register of Historic Vessels in 2009. Her history includes serving in the Second World War in New Guinea as a supply ship and seasons as a scallop fishing boat on the East coast working from the Coles Bay area. The journey on the river takes in excellent commentary from the Captain, stunning reflections off glassy water, dense rainforest hugging the riverbank and a truly immersive experience into the wild from the river’s flowing waters.
Watch the Corinna Wilderness Experience below or for more, visit corinna.com.au
Disclosure: Kate Webster stayed as a guest of Corinna Wilderness Experience.