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.
What IS The Tarkine?
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.
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.
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 its evolution, showing links to the ancient supercontinent of Gondwanaland. A walk through the cool, green comfort of these rainforests is a delight.
Soft green mosses, fungi and lichen underfoot; towering manferns; huge old myrtle trees up to 50 metres high tower overhead. Leatherwood 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 and 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.
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.