Tarkine forest reserve

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Tarkine forest attracts grey nomads to Tasmania
Magical, misty views in the Tarkine forest reserve. PIC: Pete Harmsen

The Tarkine Forest Reserve is a huge area of temperate rainforest, sand dunes and coastal heathland with strong links to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

Situated in Tasmania’s North West, the Tarkine Forest Reserve is roughly bounded by the West Coast, the Arthur River to the north, the Pieman River to the south, and the Murchison Highway to the east.

The area contains a wildly diverse landscape – including Australia’s largest patch of temperate rainforest – and a world of natural treasures including mountain ranges, wild river and cave systems, buttongrass moorlands, and a rugged coastline with long sandy beaches, grassy woodland and coastal heath.

The plant and animal life here is as rich and varied as the many habitats that support them. Local residents include the platypus, echidna, wombat, bandicoot, possum and glider – not to mention the famous Tasmanian Devil and the state’s other predators, the Spotted-tailed Quoll and Eastern Quoll.

The Tarkine also hosts over a hundred bird species, including several rare and endemic birds like the threatened Orange-bellied Parrot. The Tarkine Reserve joins the 100,000 hectare Arthur Pieman Conservation Area, itself containing a wealth of natural wonders and Aboriginal sites of great archaeological significance.

Evidence of the lives of past Aboriginal communities can be seen in the many shell middens, hut depression sites, artefacts and rock engravings – and today’s Tasmanian Aborigines still have powerful connections to this place.

More recent history tells the story of miners, farmers, fishers and holiday-makers, all attracted to the rich natural resources and spectacular landscapes. The Arthur Pieman area is dominated by a massive coastline shaped by the powerful swells of the Southern Ocean and attracts all kinds of visitors who explore the coast and hinterland via the many roads and recreational tracks for off-road vehicles.

Driving aside, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the beauty of the Tarkine area. The town of Arthur River sits on the border of the reserve and is the starting point for beach and forest journeys and adventures, including a visit to the ‘End of the World’ at Gardiner Point. Waterways can be explored by canoe, kayak and riverboat cruises through forests of blackwood, myrtle and celery top pine all the way to the sea.

There are numerous walking trails from Arthur River and the nearby South Arthur Forest drive, including the Celery Top pine nature trail and the Balfour Track rainforest walk. Further south, the Western Explorer touring route winds its way to the tiny settlement of Corinna on the Pieman River, where the Fat Man punt carries cars across the river to continue their journey.

A river cruise here leads to a wild West Coast beach strewn with huge logs washed up by the furious Southern Ocean. There are facilities for camping, picnics and barbecues at Arthur River, as well as several informal campsites along the Tarkine coast.

–Tourism Tasmania

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