The Tarkine Coast
Mt Cameron West
The Tarkine is Tasmania's largest unprotected wilderness area. 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.
The Tarkine has a spectacularly wild coastline, battered by the winds of the roaring 40s. The purest air in the world. Huge dunes that stretch inland up to several kilometres. Rocky, jagged coastal stretches. Incredible Granite Tor formations (especially at Conical Rocks south of the Pieman River), extensive long sandy beaches, lagoons, grassy woodland, coastal heathland, marshes and swampland. Sandy cape forms a dominant and spectacular feature of the Tarkine's coast.
There is a rich pioneer/exploring history of the Tarkine region, which was regarded as one of Tasmania s toughest and most impenetrable regions. Jorgen Jorgensen and Henry Hellyer are two of the more well known early explorers. 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.
Where Is it?: The Tarkine Wilderness is a region in North West Tasmania, bound roughly by the Bass Highway to the North, the Pieman River to the South, the Murchison Highway to the East, and the Southern Ocean to the West.
Tasmania's westernmost community and the furthest settlement from Hobart, Marrawah is the most popular surfing spot in Tasmania's north. The small town services the surrounding rich farming and dairy area. The Arthur River had always presented an obstacle to exploration of the area in early colonial days. Up to the 1950s the only way to cross it was by hand operated cable-drawn punt.
Situated at the mouth of the Arthur River, the tiny settlement of Arthur River is an ideal base for walking (both in the bush and along the coastline), horse riding, fishing, off road driving, cruising the river and picnics in this remote, beautiful area.
Where Is it?: 16 km south of Marrawah, 308 km west of Launceston, 85 km south west of Smithton.
'The Edge of The World'
Gardiner Point, to the south of Arthur River, has been dubbed 'The Edge of The World' as the sea here stretches uninterrupted all the way to Argentina, 15,000 km away. The sea west of Tasmania is in fact the longest uninterrupted expanse of ocean on the globe. From Argentina the currents known as the roaring 40's sweep unimpeded more than halfway around the planet until they hit this point.
A plaque titled The Edge of the World recalls a poem by tourism pioneer Brian Inder, who coined the term, referring to the coastline at Arthur River which is regularly lashed by the gales of the Roaring Forties. Giant myrtles which have battered their way down from the Arthur’s mountain heights buffet the driving foam as the reach the point's seathing waters.
The Proterozoic rocks exposed along this coast display complex sedimentary features including graded bedding, scour and fill structures, pseudonodules, clastic dykes, load cast structures, well-developed wave ripple marks and ripple casts.
West Point State Reserve
Though not far from Gardiner Point, West Point State Reserve is markedly different, no doubt due to the amount of lichen-covered rocks there. Rather than just small rocks scattered here and there on the beach, there are huge orange-stained boulders everywhere. It’s just a great place to go for a walk.
The West Point lighthouse, overlooking Lighthouse Beach, was built in 1916 and demolished when it was replaced by the Bluff Hill Point Lighthouse (located further south) in 1982. All that remains is the base of the old lighthouse. Access is via Nettley Bay Road.
Numerous Aboriginal engravings are located at Sundown Point State Reserve, 8km south of the mouth of the Arthur River near Nelson Bay. There are over 40 separate rocks slabs of laminated mudstone in the Reserve, many have clearly defined Aboriginal motifs comprised of concentric and overlapping circles, grooves or lines of pits. Engraving sites are very rare in Tasmania, and at least one panel shows the same complexity as engravings found at Mt Cameron West, further up the coast.
Sundown Point or 'Laraturunawn' has had slabs of rock art stolen over the last 30 years, including one slab of rock art that was spotted in the back of a car on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry by a customs officer in 2000. Vehicles have driven over the site since about 1975 with a four-wheel-drive track going within 20 metres of the site.
Little more than a collection of fishermen s shacks where the Arthur River meets the sea, Temma is one of the most isolated localities in Australia. Temma Harbour was for around 20 years the sea port for the 700 residents of the copper and tin mining town of Balfour when tin was first found in the area in the 1870s. A horse-drawn wooden tramway connecting the town and port. Balfour is one of the most mineralized copper districts in Tasmania; copper workings occur intermittently along a 35km track between the two localities.
The origin of the name Temma is not known. Mary Hopkin's 1969 hit song 'Temma Harbour' is not about this locality. Its name did inspire the song, however, but the songwriter, Philamore Lincoln, states the name was selected randomly from a map while looking for a place name that sounded romantic. How to get there: 16 km south of Marrawah; 85 kms from Smithton
Like the nearby Temma Harbour, Couta Rocks is noted as a place where the sea can rage. A not uncommon sight is that of the local fishermen winching their boats out of the water on slips rather than risk them on moorings. This stretch of coast is dubbed the roaring 40s, where prevailing gale-force winds blow persistently from the west.
In 1968 the small fishing villages of Couta Rocks and Sarah Anne Rocks opened up after a bridge was built across the Arthur River. Prior to that villagers and visitors alike were forced to punt. Couta Rocks, in the Tarkine region, is the centre of Tasmania s west coast crayfishing industry.
Sandy Cape is a large headland which was once home to the Tarkiner Aboriginal people, from which the region derived its name. It was their home for several thousand years, and today, there s evidence of huge shell middens, hut depressions and many significant cultural relics. Sandy Cape is surrounded by magnificent granite boulders creating a number of sheltered and secluded swimming pools. It also features one of the world's loneliest lighthouses.
The cape is also noted for having the largest sand dunes in the southern hemisphere. Because of this, it is a paradise for 4WD enthusiast s and trail bikers.
Pieman Heads and he Pieman River gained its name from the notorious convict Alexander 'The Pieman' Pearce who was responsible for one of the few recorded instances of cannibalism in Australia. There is a small shack community near the mouth of the Pieman River.
Piemen Heads marks the soythern exteemity of the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area. It is a hotspot for fishers, surfers, campers, horse riders and recreational vehicle enthusiasts, many of whom regard it as their second home. The area may be remote but to the 25 or so permanent residents, shack owners, campers and day trippers, the journey to this isolared wilderness is well worth it.
Conical Harbour is a small sheltered rocky embayment located midway along the 8 km of rocky shoreline and reefs between Four Mile Beach and Hardwicke Bay, to the north of Granville Harbour. The bay is named after rounded conical granite outcrops that extend inland from the shoreline, with the most prominent rocks adjacent to the small beach. A vehicle track reaches the bay where there are three fishing shacks located amongst the rocks. The beach is used to launch small boats, with boats occasionally moored in the gutter off the beach.
Originally opened up as a soldier settlement area at the end of World War 1, today it only has a few permanent residents and numerous holiday shacks. Granville is a small fishing and holiday community where the fishing is exceptional. Similar in most respects is the nearby beach and fishing area of Trial Harbour. There are no shops or facilities at either locality. Swimming, camping, fishing, sea, bush walking, 4WD or all terrain vehicle area. Shafts and buildings relating to the Federation and Cornwall tin, silver, lead and zinc can be found in the bush. Granville Harbour is 30kms along Heemskirk Road via Corinna and Pieman River, then a gravel road for a further 8kms.
An exposed and particularly vulnerable small anchorage which is susceptible to the prevailing local weather of the Roaring Forties, Trail Harbour is well known for its fine fishing. An isolated fishing community these days, Trail Harbour was utilised for a short while during the establishment of the early mining communities of Zeehan, and Queenstown, prior to the establishment of the settlements and facilities at Strahan and Regatta Point.