Takayna/The Tarkine is such a strange part of Tasmania, it feels totally wild and unspoiled but in reality it is littered with the impact from industry such as logging, mining and fishing. Made up of over 1 million acres of land it is the location of the largest temperate rainforest in Australia. It is a contradiction where you don’t know if you’re going to come around a corner and see a Tasmanian Tiger or a bulldozer. Today we did the Tarkine Drive.
The road is roughly 130km so we left our spot at Marrawah early driving south into some horrendous weather, perfect for the West Coast of Tasmania. I’ve always felt out of sorts in the West of Tasmania, the wind, isolation, and lack of people makes me nervous. It’s a hostile environment where you are reminded how insignificant you are in nature, and how quickly you would be forgotten if you left. Some parts of the coast recieve 3500mm of rainfall each year making it one of the wettest places in Tasmania. If you plan to visit, pack your umbrella.
Our first stop of the trip was West Point Reserve, a significant aboriginal site and known for its massive surf and rock formations. We then drove into Bluff Hill Point where we had a drink, checked out the asbestos and bee riddled lighthouse, and watched the weather roll in (from inside the van). After driving over the extraordinary narrow bridge that crosses the Arthur River, and the town of the same name we came to the Edge of the World, next stop Argentina.
The wind was blowing an absolute gale which forced us back into the van quick smart and down to Couta Rocks but we were uninspired which encouraged us to drive back inland to the Sumac Lookout, a viewing point across the Arthur River. The vista was absolutely magical, standing in lush rainforest and looking across mist covered hills and down into the valley where the river sat. We swung by the Julius River Campsite where we’d initially planned to stay the night on our way back towards the Western Explorer but honestly it was that wet the thought of sleeping there was pretty unappealing.
As luck would have it the weather eased off just enough for us to hike up to the lookout at the Dempster Plains and across the button grass that appeared to go for miles. We’re both very fond of the button grass landscape which Tasmania has 1,000,000 hectares of (see our wedding photo in “About Us” and you’ll notice the button grass tussocks). The plains were created by Aboriginal people using controlled burning to promote new growth and even expand the plain, this provided them with improved hunting and made travel easier.
We got back in the van and found a spot for lunch next to Rapid River. Matt cooked up some noodles under the dripping ferns while I looked around for interesting rocks and took photos of the stunning scenery. With full stomachs we continued on stopping briefly to check out the sinkhole and to take a small walk around the disappointing Milkshake Hills which was not only ruined by fire but judging by the landscape also forestry.
Our final stop for the day was the one I was most excited about, Trowutta Arch. I think I may have seen photos of this place on another travellers Instagram and the second I saw the magical sinkhole I had to go. We were lucky again that the rain held off for the 30 minute walk down into the cave. The pool at the bottom was covered in aquatic plants to the point where it nearly looked solid and we were dwarfed by the enormity of the arch. Looking back up was a window of ancient tree ferns. By far the highlight of the drive.
The rest of the afternoon turned into a bit of a shit show as we realised that we’d run out of water so we had an unplanned trip back up to Smithton where we filled up the tank properly and then, nearing dark, we hightailed it back to Marrawah. It wasn’t all bad in the end, the pub that we’d so wanted to visit was open and I ate an amazing local steak while Matt tucked into a parmi (while looking enviously at my steak). We listened to one of the locals yarn about how Marrawah was “the most Tasmanian place in Tasmania” and how cats were just “claws and bad attitudes”. Good to know.
On a more serious note the Tarkine is constantly under threat from logging and mining leases. It is an area of huge importance not only ecologically but also culturally for Tasmanian Aborigines. The destruction already caused is nothing short of criminal. If you would like to support protection of this area please check out the Bob Brown Foundation for more information and ways you can help #savethetarkine.