In the south-west of Tasmania lies a valley known as the Tyenna Valley; a valley of mountains, of forests and of tiny townships… a valley rich in history. A rich and vibrant history of not only forestry and rail, but of the Tasmanian Tiger.

Tyenna Valley - Tasmanian Tiger Territory

Mountain views across Tyenna Valley (photo by Carol Haberle)

Tyenna Valley Thylacines: Tasmania’s Tigers

by Carol Haberle

The Tasmanian Tiger, (thylacinus cynocephalus), or thylacine as it was also commonly called was probably the largest carnivorous marsupial to have ever evolved, and was the size of a large dog. Sandy/brown to grey in colour and a large dog-like head, it was commonly known as the Tasmanian Tiger due to it having 15 to 20 dark black/brown stripes that ran across it’s back from shoulders to rump. The female thylacine had a rear-opening pouch, and her litter size was up to four. The young ‘pups’ were dependent on the mother until at least half-grown. An interesting point though, the male thylacine also had a back-opening, partial pouch.

The thylacine , mainly nocturnal, was often seen out during the day, but hunted mainly at night alone or in pairs. A carnivorous animal, its diet consisted mainly of small kangaroos and other small marsupials, small rodents and birds. Exaggerated reports stated the thylacine preyed on sheep and poultry after European colonisation, but there is no proof of this. (An example: a famous photo is now known to have been staged using a taxidermied Thylacine specimen with a dead chicken placed in its mouth). Colonists blamed the thylacines for killing sheep, and the government paid 2184 one-pound bounties for thylacines killed between 1888 and 1909. There was never a report of the Tasmanian Tiger ever having attacked a human. The last known living tiger, died in Hobart’s Beaumaris Zoo in 1936.

The Genocide of a Species

Today, an enduring symbol of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine) was deemed to be officially extinct in 1982. The last living thylacines were caught near this area of south-western Tasmania; they were systematically hunted down, purportedly, but perhaps not actually to protect livestock. They were then hunted for bounties, and once numbers were critically low, trappers hunted them live for zoos in Australia and overseas. Sadly this resulted in the genocide of the species. There have been many claimed sightings in years since, some by highly-regarded scientists and professionals in their field that lead many to believe the elusive Tasmanian Tiger is still wandering our rugged wilderness.

Don’t Blink Now

The Gordon River Road runs within Tyenna Valley, here you will travel through towns now today so small, one blink and you will miss them. Once vibrant townships where the pioneers of this region lived, where today many ancestors of these pioneers still live. One small ‘blink and you will miss it’ town on the Gordon River Road is National Park. You will be forgiven if you see the sign ‘National Park’, and have a fleeting thought that maybe someone ‘souvenired’ the ‘Mt. Field’ part of the sign, for the tiny township of National Park borders on Mt Field National Park. But tiny as it may be, this tiny town does lay claim to fame.

Hollywood Came to National Park

National Park is the home of The National Park Hotel, also known as the ‘Loggers Hotel’, the hotel that featured in the 2011 movie ‘The Hunter’, based on the 1999 novel of the same name by Julia Leigh. This historic 1920 built hotel was the location for the shooting of the pub scenes, with much of the movie being filmed on location in the Tyenna Valley area.

Starring Hollywood actor Willem Dafoe, and Australian actors Frances O’Connor and Sam Neill, The Hunter is a psychological drama, based around a mercenary (Dafoe) sent to the Tasmanian Wilderness to hunt the elusive (or maybe extinct) Tasmanian Tiger. Filmed entirely in Tasmania, the movie is credited for its magnificent portrayal of the wilderness of Tasmania. The beauty almost haunting as one sees the glacial peaks, thick impenetrable rainforests, wild rivers and vast plains of this south-western region. It is almost ironic that a film about our elusive Tassie Tiger is filmed within the region where the last tiger was hunted.

Tyenna Valley - National Park Pub

National Park Hotel (photos by Carol Haberle)

National Park Hotel: Relaxed Country Atmosphere

The National Park Hotel today has been renovated, but still retains its ‘Olde World Charm’. While staying in the Tyenna Valley region to experience the Adventure Forests Top of the World Tour, Kev and I paid a visit to the hotel for dinner, a home-cooked meal of beef rissoles and fresh vegetables, simply delicious. Whilst there we met the warm and friendly locals, all eager for us to join them in the bar for a friendly chat. We were then given a tour of the hotel, a relaxed country atmosphere with cosy log fires. The hotel offers several standard rooms with shared bathroom facilities, large dining areas, modern kitchen, a guest lounge with television, a public bar and off street parking and is suited to couples, families and backpackers. The hotel is situated en route to the Gordon River, to tourist destinations in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage areas of Strathgordon and also Lake Pedder in the Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. Other experiences in the region include

All this and much more.

If you travel the Gordon River Road, your journey will not be complete without a stop at the National Park Hotel, whether it be for a bed or for refreshments. The locals will keep you enthralled with the history of their region, a proud bunch of locals who embody the essential characteristics of a true Tasmanian: they are friendly and have a deep love of their home, and are more than happy to share it. AND if perchance you are looking for a tree change, the National Park Hotel is FOR SALE!

Tyenna Valley - Tyenna River

Tyenna Valley: Tyenna River (photo by Carol Haberle)

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.

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Map: National Park Hotel, Tyenna Valley Tasmania

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