Mawbanna is a small rural settlement in Tasmania's North West. The locality was the site of the last recorded kill of a thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) on 6th May 1930. Local farmer Wilf Batty shot the thylacine after seeing it kill poultry on his Mawbanna property. The bullet had penetrated the shoulder of a male Tasmanian Tiger, leaving him alive for another 20 minutes.
The carcass was sold to animal dealer James Harrison of Wynyard for £5 who in turn sold it to the Hobart Museum where the body was prepared for taxidermy before being sent on a tour around Australia. The now extinct marsupial looked like a cross between a hyena and a tiger. A memorial signpost marks the spotwhere the animal was shot, with a photo of Wilf and his Tiger.
Thylacines mainly hunted at night, either solo or in pairs. They preyed upon birds, small rodents, and even other marsupials like kangaroos. But after European settlers arrived, thylacines reportedly preyed on farmers’ livestock, which led to multiple bounties paid by the government to eradicate the species. Between 1888 to 1909, more than 2,000 such bounties were paid. So unsurprisingly, a decline in the population was reported in the early 1900s. On top of the bounties, thylacines also faced competition with dogs, habitat loss, and even an epidemic disease that caused their population to shrink even more over the next few decades.
The thylacine, known by its full scientific name Thylacinus cynocephalus, was a carnivorous marsupial that made its first appearance 4 million years ago. At one point, it was found all over continental Australia, extending north to New Guinea and south to Tasmania. But for reasons unknown, it went extinct on Australia’s mainland about 2,000 years ago.
However, it persisted in Tasmania, making it synonymous with the small island south of the country’s mainland. But it was also a source of constant irritation to the European settlers who arrived on the continent in the 18th century. Scientists learned little about thylacines before they went extinct, but there are a few things we do know. We discovered that these striking predators — with large jaws filled with 46 powerful teeth — grew as long as six feet. This included the tail, which was stiff and thick at the base.
Thylacines, also called Tasmanian tigers, were distinguishable by their wolf-like appearance — though they were more closely related to the Tasmanian devil than wolves or tigers. Each thylacine was sandy yellowish-brown to gray in color and had about 15 to 20 dark stripes on its back.
Where Is it?: Mawbanna is 25 minutes south east of Stanley (27 km), en route to Dip Falls.
In The Area
Dip Falls and The Big Tree
An unusual falls where 152 steep steps descend to the bottom of the cubic-basalt formed falls. These falls are very picturesque, particularly during the winter months. The track to the accessible viewing platform is beyond the falls. Four short walks lead to the base of these picturesque falls, its viewing platform, an old sawmill boiler and the nearby Big Tree.
From the car park it is a 5 min walk to the Big Tree in the Big Tree Reserve. The tree is over 400 years, its circumference at its base is nearly 17 metres and definitely worth seeing.
Location: 10kms east of the Stanley turn off on Bass Highway, head south to the Dip River Forest reserve.
Water Wheel Creek Timber Heritage Experience
Water Wheel Creek Timber Heritage Experience is located on 20 hectares (49 acres) of forested land. Here you can take a guided tour to see Tasmania's only working example of a timber tramway. Discover the spirit of early pioneers in the Heritage Museum and browse the displays of restored pioneer machinery, artefacts, photographs and memorabilia to gain an insight into life in the early timber communities of Tasmania's north west.
You can also take a guided Forest Experience Walk. On this gentle, tracked walk through native forest you will discover a complex eco-system and the diverse wildlife it supports. See Tasmanian rainforest trees including blackwood, sassafras and myrtle and walk in the shade of giant tree ferns. You may even catch a glimpse of an elusive platypus or giant Tasmanian freshwater crayfish. Visit the Bushman's Cafe to try freshly made cakes and scones, sustaining snacks and steaming tea and coffee. Soak up the atmosphere of the surrounding forest on the outdoor deck.
The Tarkine Wilderness is Tasmania's largest unprotected wilderness area. It is hugely diverse extending from thundering west coast beaches, through giant sand dunes, across rolling button grass plains, to towering eucalypt forests. It hosts the only wilderness landscape dominated by rainforest in Australia. Its rainforests form the largest continuous tract of rainforest in Australia, they being the largest temperate rainforests in Australia.
There is a rich pioneer/exploring history of the Tarkine region, which was regarded as one of Tasmania's toughest and most impenetrable regions. Prospecting and Mining was one of the biggest drawcards to the region for early settlers, with tin mining set up at Balfour, Gold at Corinna, and Tin at Waratah also. Prospectors often searched the rivers in years between 1850 and 1950 quite unsuccessfully.
Trowutta Caves and Arch
The Tarkine region of North West Tasmania contains a number of unique cave systems. There are a series of extraordinary magnesite karst systems, including unique cave and pinnacle formations at Lyons River and the Arthur River-Victory Springs area, including warm springs. These cave systems are not only unique in themselves, but are also home to extraordinary cave dwelling creatures, such as the bizarre troglodyte (cave dwelling spider) and other fascinating creatures.
Trowutta Caves are located south of Smithton, beyond the beautiful Allendale Gardens, Trowutta and Milkshake Hills. The Trowutta Arch track begins soon after the Trowutta Caves State Reserve is reached. A short 10 minute easy well defined walk leads to the park s most interesting geological feature - the Trowutta Arch. The reserve protects an area of sinkholes covered in temperate rainforest full of myrtles, sassafrass, blackwoods, massive manferns and a variety of other ferns.
South Arthur Forest Drive
The South Arthur Forest Drive is a safe and easy way to have a taste of the Tarkine region of Tasmania's north west with a minimum of fuss and without having to do the whole 4-wheel drive thing. The drive begins at Smithton and is an easy 130 km round trip. A mix of sealed and gravel roads give access to a number forest reserves on the way. To begin, take the turnoff which indicates South Arthur Forest Drive from the road between Stanley to Smithton. Brown trout have been released into the Arthur River and are a popular target for anglers.
View from Sumac Lookout
Along the way is Sumac Lookout, that has expansive views over the Arthur River and forests. Just after the Kanunnah Bridge, a dirt road climbs to the lookout. You'll be greeted by a large carpark and a massive wooden sign to let you know you've arrived. The lookout features a sturdy wooden rail and the trees are cut back to give you uninterrupted views of the valley and river below.
The Julius River camping area is located on the northern edge of the magnificent Tarkine rainforest wilderness, some 10 km east of the Kanunnah Bridge and Sumac Lookout on the South Arthur Forest Drive. The Julius River Reserve free camping area has 6 campsites suitable for vehicle based camping (campervans, motorhomes, camper-trailers) etc,. but is not suitable for tent camping. From the reserve picnic area, which has toilets, picnic tables and barbecues, take the interpretive rainforest walk among ferns, bush orchids, mosses and fungi that lead you to a limestone sinkhole. Alternatively, head to nearby Lake Chisholm for a walk through old-growth myrtle forest, where you will find an even more spectacular flooded sinkhole.
Milkshake Hills Forest Reserve
Milkshakes Hills Forest Reserve (45 km south) features a mix of of button grass (which turns the creeks a tea colour) and virgin temperate rainforest. There are two walks, a basic 10 minute nature walk through the forest which is relatively flat, or you can climb to the top of one of the Milkshake Hills (45 minutes return).
A hidden gem, Lake Chisholm is a flooded limestone sinkhole, one of the many sinkholes in the area, but one of only two filled with water. A gentle half hour return walk meanders through a majestic old myrtle forest to the tranquil waters of the lake. This can be a fantastic photo opportunity, especially in the early morning, so remember to bring your camera.
Tayatea Bridge Picnic Area (38 km south) privides easy access to the Arthur River provides a great opportunity to fish, picnic or even launch a raft or kayak and paddle down medium rapids to Kanunnah bridge.