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Touring The Tarkine

The Forgotten Wilderness



Julius River Forest Reserve, The South Arthur Forests:



The Murchison Highway from Somerset (a suburb of Burnie) traverses The Tarkine on the eastern side.  A 30 minute drive will take you to the Hellyer Gorge.  There is a pleasant picnic area and short rainforest walks each side of the road.

10 kilometres south of the Hellyer Gorge the highway crosses the Wandle river.  There is a very fine walk downstream to Wandle Falls.  No more than 600 metres. The walk is on private property and is not signposted.  The track starts right next to the bridge on the southern side.

Another 45 minutes south will take you to Waratah.  Mt Bischof is worth a visit.  An old mine a few minutes drive past the hotel overlooking the waterfall.  A good roadhouse, caravan park and a 9 hole golf course at Waratah.

From Waratah, there is another hour or so drive to Savage River, an iron ore mining town.  A pipeline runs from Savage River to the coast at Port Latta near Stanley, straight through pristine rainforest.  The roads are all sealed to here.

Almost 10 kilometres out of Waratah there is a turnoff to the right to Phoilosopher Falls.  A classic Tarkine wilderness rainforest walk.

From Savage River a narrow road then wanders down to the small hamlet of Corinna by the tranquil Huon Pine lined Pieman River.  The road is protected by the rainforest canopy and is usually in good condition.  There are short walks each side of the river at Corinna.  There is self contained modern cabin and backpacker style accommodation and a hotel here.  A vehicular ferry operates across the river ($20 as at Dec 2005) allowing a drive on to Zeehan and Tulla on the Murchison Hwy.  A hydro electric dam upstream from Corinna allows a crossing of the river.  A very scenic loop on a good sealed road.  A superb river cruise is available from Corinna downstream to the Pieman Heads.  An overnight stay is necessary to appreciate the scenic attractions of the heads.  Camping only with no facilities.  A superb view to the north towards Sandy Cape from the hills above the heads.  There is a 4WD track from here to Granville Harbour to the south past Conical Rocks.

From Corinna an unsealed road continues north to Couta Rocks and Temma.  Before Temma there is a turn right which takes you on to the Arthur River and the turnoff to the southern end of The South Arthur Forests on a sealed road.


Just west of Somerset and Wynyard (Burnie Airport) there is a left turn to Detention Falls.  The drive further on takes you through plantation forest to the Arthur River.  Further west are McGowans falls.  The track is not signposted.  Directions are HERE.  There are undocumented walks into the Lyons River area also - Tarkine Falls and Heaven or Galadriels Cascades.  See to search for these areas.


From Burnie it is an hour or so drive along the coast to Smithton.  Dip Falls and Stanley are diversions along the way.  Smithon is a large town surrounded by rich farming land.  From here, a good sealed road heads south past Allendale Gardens (a must visit for garden lovers) to The Milkshake Hills.  There is a good camping area at The Milkshake Hill reserve with clean toilets.


The road west from Smithton takes you to Marrawah - one of Tasmania's favourite surfing areas.  Take the trip down to Ann Bay or further south to Lighthouse Beach.

A recently constructed very good road heads south to the town of Arthur River.  A shop with fuel, a caravan park and good camping here.  River cruises are available and are highly recommended.  An unsealed road continues on a few kilometres inland from the coast to Couta Rocks. The side trips to Sundown Point and in particular Sarah Anne Rocks are worth the diversion.  A very fine 2 kilometre coastal walk from Sarah Anne Rocks to Couta Rocks.

From Couta Rocks a road continues a short distance along the coast to Temma.  A very rough 4WD track continues on to Sandy Cape.  Trips should not be taken alone.  Vehicles have become stranded in this area and been completely submerged in quicksand. A special drivers licence is now required to use this track (as at 2013).

From Couta Rocks, continue on to The South Arthur Forests and Smithton or south to Corinna.  The Balfour Track runs parallel to the road just before The South Arthur Forests. Access to the track is now well signposted. The loop road from Marrawah to Arthur River and on the the South Arthur Forests and back to Smithton are now sealed. The South Arthur Forest loop is expected to be sealed by the end of January 2015. We travelled the road in October 2014 with only 10 kms yet to be sealed.


The Tarkine National Coalition define The Tarkine as summarized below.


The Tarkine in Brief

Extract from:




The Tarkine contains a wide variety of spectacular landscape features. These

  • Coastline. 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.

  • Norfolk Range. Distinctively rises above coastal plateau, to over 700m.
    Contains a belt of sub-alpine rainforest. This region is blanketed in a tapestry
    of heath and buttongrass, moorland, pockets of varying forest types, and gorge-like
    drainage lines.

  • Meredith Range. (reaches over 900 metres) An undulating granite plateau,
    the largest exposed area of granite in western Tasmania. Affords spectacular views
    of Cradle Mountain, and the South-West. Pockets and stretches of tall, implicate
    and sub-alpine rainforest exist amongst the granite pillars and plates of the
    Meredith Range.

  • Australia's largest tract of temperate rainforest. The vastness of
    this rainforest is impressive, and reaches/ covers the Arthur, Pieman, Rapid,
    Keith, Donaldson and Savage River valleys. The densely rainforested upper Savage
    River is exceptional due to its deeply incised gorge system.

  • Grand Rivers. The Tarkine contains two of Tasmania's Grandest Rivers,
    the Arthur River (which is the only complete river system in Tasmania that has
    no dam), and the Pieman River. The Arthur River is characterized by steep gorges
    and rapids, valleys blanketed in rainforest, and stretches of giant eucalypt forest.
    It is fed by the Hellyer, Keith, Lyons, Rapid, and Frankland rivers. The Pieman
    River is most famous for its reflections. Like the Gordon, the Pieman, on a good
    day, gives spectacular mirror like river reflections. The section from Corinna
    to the coast is broad and flat and is flanked by rainforests, and Tasmania's most
    northerly stands of Huon Pine. The Whyte, Savage and Donaldson rivers feed the
    Piemans lower stretches. The Upper Pieman river is dammed, and is fed by the Tarkine's
    Huskisson, Wilson and Stanley rivers.

  • Wild Rivers. The Tarkine hosts Tassie's greatest density of wild rivers
    outside the existing WHA. The entire catchments or sub-catchments of several;
    major rivers remain remote and largely inaccessible. These include; Thornton,
    Lagoon, Pedder, Wild Wave, Interview (coastal), Donaldson, Little Donaldson, Keith,
    Lyons, Rapid, and Upper Savage (rainforests), Huskisson and Wilson (Southern Tarkine).

  • Waterfalls. There are a number of spectacular known and barely known
    waterfalls within the Tarkine's Rainforests. (including Philosopher's Falls, McGowan's

  • Cave Systems. The Tarkine contains globally significant magnesite (dominated
    by magnesium) cave (karst) systems. They are potentially the most significant
    if not the only significant system of magnesium cave systems in the world. They
    include caves, sub-surface cavities, sinkholes, springs, and surface features
    including gorges and castle-like formations. They are most significant in the
    upper Lyons river region. There are also a number of small cave features that
    show evidence of Aboriginal occupation within the Savage River Rainforests.

  • Wilderness. Environment Australia's National Wilderness Inventory measures
    wilderness quality on a scale from 0 (no wilderness) to 20 (pure wilderness),
    based on remoteness from settlement and access, and apparent and biophysical naturalness.
    While the Tarkine contains all gradings, the highest grade, with values from 14
    - 20 makes up the majority of the Tarkine region.


"Sinkhole" by the road - The South Arthur Forests


Sarah Anne Rocks