What IS The Tarkine?

by Carol Haberle

In the 1830’s George Augustus Robinson wrote in his diaries of entering the ‘Tarkine’ in search of the ‘Tarkineer Aboriginal Band’, just one of the Aboriginal tribes who inhabited the western Tasmanian coastline (from the Arthur River to the Pieman River) before European colonisation.  This is the earliest recorded usage of the word ‘Tarkine’.  Rich in Aboriginal culture and history, today we know The Tarkine as a very diverse region.

Tarkine - Whyte's Lookout, Waratah Tasmania
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Views over the Tarkine from Whyte’s Lookout, Waratah, Tasmania

A region that consists of wild, rugged coastlines; cool temperate rainforests; privately owned rich, fertile farmlands; state forests and protected areas.  A 477 000 hectare wilderness in the remote north west of Tasmania.  It covers an area from the Arthur River to the north; the Pieman River to the south; the Murchison Highway to the east and the Indian Ocean to the west.

Tarkineer Aboriginal Band

Along the wild, wind-swept coastline can be found numerous hut depressions found in aboriginal middens, artefact scatters, ceremonial stone arrangements, petroglyph’s, and spongolite (a particular rock used to make stone tools).  All the remains of the sedentary way of life of a band of Tasmanian Aborigines who lived along the coastline, hunting seals, land mammals and gathering shellfish.

Tarkine - Arthur River
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Mouth of the Arthur River on the edge of the Tarkine: the wild, windswept coastline

Huge sand dunes which extend several kilometres inland and continue to grow, slowly filling forests with sand.  Small fishing villages from where brave fishermen still today test the wild oceans in their small fishing boats.

Tasmanian Rainforest

The Tarkine includes Australia’s largest tract of cool, temperate rainforest, which supports the flora, lichens and fossils that help tell the story of Tasmania’s ancient flora and it’s evolution, showing links to the ancient super-continent of Gondwanaland.  A walk through the cool, green comfort of these rainforests is a delight.

Tarkine - Lichen & Fungi
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Lichen and fungi on the Tarkine rainforest floor

Soft green mosses, fungi and lichen underfoot; towering manferns; huge old myrtle trees up to 50metres high tower overheadLeatherwood and sassafras trees, everything so cool, green and alive with unique creatures and habitats not found anywhere else in the world.  It is a home to many threatened and endangered species of both flora and fauna.

Global Significance: Settlements, Mountains & Rivers

The Tarkine is also home to globally significant magnesite karsts (landforms characterised by caves and sinkholes), including unique cave and pinnacle formations.  Filled with pioneering heritage, our history is evident in the historical settlements of Temma, Corinna, Balfour, Waratah, Luina and Magnet.

Tarkine - Trowutta Arch
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Trowutta Arch ~ an example of a magnesite karst in the Tarkine, Tasmania

From the mountains to the sea, the wild rivers flow through much of the Tarkine.  The Arthur, the Pedder, the Thornton, the Rapid and the Donaldson all flow from mountains through the wilderness of the Tarkine.  The Arthur River is completely wild, never logged, never dammed and free from bushfires for over 650 years.


 

So often we hear of a place that has outstanding heritage significance.  A place that has both natural and cultural history; a place that is important to science; a place relatively untouched by human activity or a place of extraordinary, pristine beauty

In Tasmania, we have The Tarkine.  It contains all of the above, and so much more.

Tarkine - Tasmanian Rainforest
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The cool, green comfort of the Tarkine Rainforest, Tasmania

All photos ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography.
You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards

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Map: Tarkine Tasmania…