Have You Met the Tarkine? Five Reasons to Explore it.

Have You Met the Tarkine? Five Reasons to Explore it.

The Tarkine ('takayna' in palawa kani – Tasmania’s Aboriginal language) is a huge area of temperate rainforest, sand dunes and coastal heathland in Tasmania's north west with strong links to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people. It's 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 plant and animal life in the Tarkine is as rich and varied as the many habitats that support them. It’s also home to Australia’s largest remaining tract of cool temperate rainforest. The Tarkine is an incredibly special place to visitors and locals alike, and a trip to the North West isn't complete without experiencing its beauty.

Here's our top five reasons to explore this diverse and ruggedly beautiful landscape.

The Tarkine, Tasmania's North West

Exploring The Tarkine. Photo: The Wilderness Society

A Tasmanian Wonder

The Tarkine is the second largest temperate rainforest in the world, and the largest temperate rainforest in Australia, with over 400,000 hectares of virgin wilderness. The area contains a wildly diverse landscape 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 Tarkine, Tasmania's North West

Magnificent old growth trees. Photo: Lonely Planet

Incredible Old Growth Forest

The Tarkine has some of the oldest trees on the planet! More than 2000 hectares is covered by wet eucalypt forest areas where these old-growth trees grow to be taller than 41m high. These areas are said to be “large enough to be self-sustaining and support ongoing evolutionary processes.” They are extremely slow-growing conifers with high oil content, and they increase their girth by only 2mm approximately per year. Unique to this area, and ultimately the planet, these trees carry natural beauty, resources and Tasmanian heritage.

Orange Bellied Parrot photographed by Cordell Richardson in Melaleuca, Tasmania. cordellrichardsonphotography@gmail.com

Rare and Spectacular Species

The Tarkine hosts more than 100 bird species, including several rare and endemic birds like the threatened Orange-bellied Parrot. Additionally, it's home to more than 60 species of other rare, threatened and endangered species. Regular 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.

Bonus - Did you know that the Tarkine is home to the world’s largest freshwater crayfish, Astacopsis gouldi, also known as the Giant Freshwater Lobster? Just another reason to explore this piece of Tassie!

Photo: Tasmanian Expeditions

Historic Geogoly

Fossils between 1000-700 million years old, algal stromatolite fossils, were found around the Arthur and Julius Rivers and are Tasmania’s oldest known fossils. The world’s only known insect fossils were found in the Tarkine rainforest, found in sediments of true glacial origin.

The Tarkine, Tasmania's North West

The Tarkine from Sumac Lookout. Photo: Think Tasmania

Celebration of Heritage

With a history dating back more than 40,000 years, Tasmanian Aborigines were the most southerly people to survive the last ice age. On the takayna coast, they left a legacy of shell middens, rock carvings, hut depressions and seal hides. The Tarkine contains a wealth of natural wonders and Aboriginal sites of great archaeological significance. Evidence of the lives of past Aboriginal communities can be seen – 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 Tarkine, Tasmania's North West, Pieman River

The Arthur Pieman River. Photo: Getty Images

Tips for Exploring:

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. Check out all of our information on exploring the Tarkine here.

Getting There:

  • Arthur River is about a two hour drive (150 kilometres) from Burnie via the A2 Bass Hwy and C214 Arthur River Rd.
  • Corinna is 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Zeehan on the gravel C249.

Staying Overnight:

  • Stay in Stanley, Smithon or Marrawah in B&B's, hotels and motels or other self-contained accommodations.
  • Additionally, there are facilities for camping, picnics and barbecues at Arthur River, as well as several informal campsites along the Tarkine coast.