The Tarkine is a large area of wilderness remaining in the North West of Tasmania. It contains large areas of rainforest, wild rivers, limestone areas and a magnificent coastline. It is an area that should be all protected in a national park – but sadly that has not happened. There are a few small reserves and large areas where logging and mining is allowed. In other places recreational four wheel driving has has caused a lot of damage to fragile coastlines and to aboriginal sites.
Neither Wendy nor myself had been to the Tarkine, and we were keen for a look. We had come from the east via the Lyell Highway to Queenstown, and then to Zeehan. From there, we took the road to the small town of Corrina on the Pieman River.
When we reached the Pieman, we had to wait for the ferry to pick us up and take us across to the north side. The small ferry (called the Fatman Barge) can only hold two cars per trip and costs $25.
Nearly everything to do with Corrina is on the north side of the river. The “town” is small consisting of one business – the Corrina Hotel – where you can obtain food and drink (it has a restaurant) and it is where you can obtain accommodation in the small campsite nearby or in cabins. When we arrived and asked what accommodation was available – we found it all booked out. We had not realised it was a long weekend in Tasmania. However the person at the counter was very helpful and told us where we could camp for free near the bridge over the nearby Savage River.
So we headed to the Savage River and indeed find a suitable campsite. After lunch, we headed back to Corrina and then undertook some of the walks there. We had soon completed both the Huon Pine Walk and the Whyte River Walk. Both were nice but the forest was very dry – I had been hoping for good fungi and very little was out.
Back at the hotel, we organised a booking on the cruise boat – the Arcadia II, to take us down to the Pieman Heads the next day. We then planned to camp overnight a few kilometres south along the coast at Conical Rocks and return on the cruise boat the next day.
The cruise down the river was excellent. Our boat was the Arcadia II – made from Huon Pine. The boat was the best way to see the forest flanking the river. The boat captain provided an interesting commentary about the trees (e.g. the difference between the look of a male Huon Pine to a female Huon Pine – really quite striking) and the difference in the forest on the two banks of the river due to the difference in sunlight they each receive.
At a small jetty at Pieman Heads, we disembarked from the boat. So did all the other passengers – we all picked up our provided packed lunches and then headed for the heads and the ocean. The other passengers would be coming back on hour or so later. Wendy and myself continued on to our camp. We first had to pass through a small settlement of shacks. It being a long weekend, quite a few of the owners were around. Many had arrived by 4 wheel drive.
There was also a massive area of driftwood logs at the heads.
We walked south along the beach and then over a headland and past another shack to reach Conical Rocks. This was a really interesting area. We spent all that afternoon exploring and photographing the rocks. They are a granite outcrop and are amazingly weathered. Some are rounded, others are more pointed, some are gouged out by weathering. Between the rocks and the bush were quite a few four wheel drive tracks – some of which seemed to go over aboriginal middens.
We found a nice campsite on a grassy patch not too far from the pounding waves of the surf. It really was a beautiful spot. We shared Conical Rocks with a lot of birds and a few wombats and wallabies. Fortunately the trail bikes we could hear were a long way away.
Next morning, the sea was a lot higher with larges waves crashing over the rocks – impressive. Our boat wasn’t coming until lunchtime, so we could take our time packing up.
The sea along the beach was also quite rough.
Back on the Arcadia II, we enjoyed another excellent cruise along the river.
At Corrina, we left the area and took the road to Waratah. The weather had now changed and it rained most of the way. We stayed that night at the cosy Waratah Hotel. One remarkable feature of Waratah is the large waterfall in the middle of the town.
More photos of the Tarkine are online here on my website.