Located in our magical Tarkine region is a place known as The Edge of the World. You’ll find it at Gardiner Point, Arthur River and this is one place truly not to be missed. But the journey along this wild, rugged coastline, where the wild roaring forties (strong westerly winds) batter this coast from across the Great Southern Ocean, makes one feel anywhere along this region has you at the edge of the world.
Journey: Edge of The World
The Roaring Forties
The roaring forties have a great influence on our weather patterns here in Tasmania, and the far North West and West Coast bears the brunt of them. Our island is located at between latitude 40 and 44 degrees South, the roaring forties are a global wind current that blows around the earth at latitude 40–50 degrees, that puts us directly in the path of these varying winds which are strongest here in both Spring and Autumn. Similar wind patterns exist in the northern hemisphere but the lack of land in the southern hemisphere means there is little to stop or slow these gusty winds as they circle the globe.
Wind gusts up to 200km per hour have been recorded on the far North West Coast where the Great Southern Ocean joins Bass Strait, and with the winds come the colder temperatures and heavier rainfall these two regions are well known for. However, it is worth noting, without the roaring forties we would not have the magical Tarkine cool temperate rainforests, nor the wild rugged coastlines, nor much of our unique flora, nor much of the minerals our state is famous for… the combination of winds, heavy rainfalls and cooler temperatures make for the perfect climatic conditions to give us so much of our uniqueness. We recently travelled part of this coastline from Greens Point Beach at Marrawah to the Arthur River and here lies much magic.
Green Point Beach
Located at Marrawah, the most westerly town in Tasmania, and famous for surfing, this beach is a combination of a long stretch of fine white sand, and volcanic rocky outcrops. Low tide brings much beauty, where a section of the beach shows stunning rock formations covered with the rich green ocean algae, Chlorophyta phylum, creating a magical abstract landscape along the water’s edge. Views take you as far North as Mount Cameron West and also to Woolnorth, where in the distance the wind turbines can be seen rotating in the wind. A favourite spot for surfers, who can often be seen riding the waves, huge swells are almost consistently prevalent, and voted as one of the three best surfing beaches in Australia, Green Point Beach is a regular location for the O’Neill Cold Water Classic surf competition. A great place for a family picnic or BBQ, toilet facilities and sheltered barbecues are provided along with a great playground for the kids.
West Point State Reserve
Formerly known as West Point Aboriginal Site, and renamed West Point State Reserve in April 1999 this protected area of 580 hectares is one of historical and cultural significance to the aboriginal population, as is much of this coastline. Within the reserve lie many middens, stone artefact scatters and hut depressions which help to provide an insight of the semi-sedentary way of life of the aboriginal people, the Pee.rapper band who inhabited this area.
The coastal landscapes here are truly spectacular, certainly well worth the 2.7 kilometre drive off the main road and onto a well maintained gravel road to visit. Wild seas, magnificent rock formations and unique flora make it a great destination for those interested in photography or nature study. Lichen lithosere, (Caloplaca spp.), the bright orange lichen seen on many of coastal Tasmanian rock formations, thrives here on the rich quartzite rocky shores and puts on a magnificent display. Also a popular recreational site for fishing, skin diving and surfers, this location has been host to both national and international surfing events.
Bluff Hill Point
Another turnoff onto a gravel road, this one will take you to the Bluff Hill Point Lighthouse, built in 1982 to replace the 1916 built West Point Lighthouse (demolished after Bluff Hill Point Lighthouse was built). Views across the rugged landscape are truly worth seeing here, large white quartzarenite rock formations jutting from the landscape take on an ethereal glow in the late afternoon light, as your eyes take in the wild, desolate coastline. Low dense shrubby scrub covers the region, banksias, wattles, epacris and heath grow stunted and craggy due to the harsh winds that blow across the landscape. A little further down the gravel road and a shack site opens before you, large fishing boats sit atop trailers waiting for the next launch as these skilled fisherman go out to catch crayfish. Huge rocky outcrops, merciless winds and rough heavy seas leave you wondering just how they manage to get these boats out and into the wild ocean beyond.
Our last stop was at Arthur River, the river named after Sir George Arthur, Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemens Land between 1824 and 1836, and home to the ‘official site’ of The Edge of the World. The small township of Arthur River, so named for the river flowing through it, has a population of around 130, and lies on the banks either side of the mouth of the magical Arthur River itself. A gateway to The Tarkine, a cruise up this river will have you viewing the giants of the cool temperate rainforest within the Tarkine region, ancient and rare endemic trees such as leatherwood, myrtle, laurel, celery top pine, sassafras, blackwood, eucalyptus and giant tree ferns.
The Edge of the World, so named because this stretch of coastline and river mouth lies directly in the path of a 15 000 kilometre stretch of the wild and untamed Great Southern Ocean, where the wildest of seas continue to batter this rugged coastline. Where enormous logs have been washed down this mighty untamed river, and then the wild ocean currents and tumultuous waves have carried them to wash up onto the isolated beaches nearby. A truly wild and unique landscape lies all around, but a landscape of sheer, wild untamed beauty.
Here at Gardiner Point, Arthur River, you can view a plaque where the words of Brian Inder (one of our tourism pioneers) say it all:
I cast my pebble onto the shore of Eternity.
To be washed by the Ocean of time.
It has shape, form, and substance.
It is me.
One day I will be no more.
But my pebble will remain here.
On the shore of eternity.
Mute witness from the aeons.
That today I came and stood
At the edge of the world.
All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography. You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards. Carol writes feature articles for this website about all things Tasmanian. If you’d like Carol to visit you, please contact Think Tasmania.