Friday 1 June 2018

Tarkine Wilderness

Today's post is brought to you from Tasmania's North West, the Arthur-Pieman Conservation area, and the Tarkine Wilderness.

So we'd packed up the house we were living in for a year. We visited Pillenger, something we should have done much earlier in the year as it was enchanting and beautiful. We had finally climbed Murchinson's Track near Lake Plimsoll. Now it was time to head up the West Coast. We started making our way towards the Tarkine Wilderness – 450 000 hectares of wilderness, eucalypt and cool temperate rain forests. It was getting towards the time of the last ferry across for the day so decided to camp up for the night. Reece Dam, at the boat ramp, was a nice place to call it a day.
The next morning we were back on the road. We caught the ferry across the Pieman River. The Pieman River is the southern boarder of the Tarkine, Arthur River marks the north, the Murchinson Highway marks the eastern boarder, and the ocean marks the west. Having lived in Tasmania for a year we had things we wanted to check off in our two weeks of travel before catching the Spirit of Tasmania back. We heard two of the best cruises in Tasmania were the Pieman River that departs from Corinna, and the Arthur River that departs from the town of Arthur River in the North-West. After crossing the ferry across to Corinna we learnt the cruise had just departed. It then started raining. That made our choice easy for which cruise to do as we didn't want to waste a day waiting around for it. We had a look through the historic mining town now surrounded by rainforest. A place to truly relax, get away from it all, bush walks, kayaking, boating, fishing, bird watching, eco retreats, and wonderful, locally sourced food, but alas we decided to keep moving and head for Arthur River, to stay the night and catch the Arthur River cruise instead.
The weather turned wild as we drove up the West Coast towards Arthur River. Fitting, considering there is a lookout at the mouth of Arthur River called The Edge of the World, sometimes rough and wild, as it was when we visited, sometimes beautiful and peaceful. The 'Roaring Forties' hits the west coast of Tasmania with great force. It is the wind that develops on the Indian Ocean between South Africa and Australia. There is no great land mass to stop it before it reaches Tasmania, so the West Coast is rugged and wild. We took shelter in a cabin for the night instead of the Troopy. I have never heard such heavy rain! Thankfully the system cleared the following day. For the time we were on the cruise, we had beautiful, flat, calm weather. The wind didn't pick up again until we got back. That was the last of the rain we had for the remainder of our trip around Tassie. Two weeks of sunshine in Tas, I think that was a record!
There are now two cruises on the Arthur River. The original red boat is the one we went on, the other is white. The cruise was definitely worth it. A small boat, run by husband and wife team. Due to the amount of rain and the river level in winter the cruise does not run. We had a great day cruising the only river in Tasmania that has not been logged at any time. Just to clarify, there are areas in the Tarkine that are logged, but not along Arthur River. The only 'logging' that you see is natural, occuring mostly in winter when the water level is up, the weather is wilder, and logs are picked up and thrown about as if they were matchsticks. We also saw a pair of white-bellied sea eagles! Lunch and wine was provided at a lovely sheltered area where Arthur and Franklin Rivers meet called Turk's landing.
After the boat cruise that finished at 3 we started our journey through the forests of Tarkine, not before discovering a place called Nelson Bay. Being from the Hunter Valley we found this amusing so stopped in for a photo. The 'Roaring Forties' started picking up again, so it was quite blowy. We were there long enough to take a few quick snaps before we took shelter back in Rocky.

A nice way to see the Tarkine is to do the driving loop. There are many lookouts of rivers, mountains, forests, walks, and a couple of camping spots too. The beauty of Tasmania in summer is the very long daylight hours. After the cruise, we went to a few of these walks and lookouts. We camped at Julius River, then finished the loop the following day. My highlights of the Tarkine was the cruise, and Trowutta Arch. Trowutta Arch had a Jurassic feel to it. A cave / arch in the forest, and a giant pond underneath. Not many people visit the North-West Tasmania. If you do make the journey, one brochure I would recommend getting is 'The Tarkine Drive'. The map is great and helps you to plan your stops.

Happy Travels
- Jeni

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