How to Explore Tasmania’s Enchanted Takayna / Tarkine Forest
Be captivated by the uninterrupted beauty of the second-largest temperate rainforest in the world – the takayna / Tarkine in Tasmania’s north-west corner. Wild rivers, luscious green forests, buttongrass moorlands and rugged coastlines are waiting to be explored in this adventure-lover’s paradise. It’s a three-and-a-half hour drive from Launceston Airport but perhaps the biggest surprise here is that the takayna / Tarkine is so far off the beaten tourist track.
Discover the secret staircase to Lovers Falls
Finding a truly unique cascade – Lovers Falls – is the cherry on top of a blissful float down the Pieman River. Lovers Falls is only accessible by kayak or boat from Corinna, a village on the banks of the Pieman at the southern end of the takayna / Tarkine, and requires a five-kilometre paddle downstream. Glide down the forest-shrouded river, watching spellbinding greens from the trees reflected in the glassy water. After an hour or so, a charming secret staircase appears, leading out of the river into lush rainforest. Cross the 200-metre wooden boardwalk to arrive at Lovers Falls, a 12-metre-high waterfall enveloped by vibrant green ferns. If kayaking isn’t your thing, a guided Sweetwater Cruise sails past on its way down the Pieman.
Pass through an emerald wonderland to find Philosopher Falls
The secluded Philosopher Falls walk weaves through an emerald forest of magnificent myrtle, eucalyptus and pine and culminates at Philosopher Falls. As you tunnel through the mesmerising moss-covered landscape, keep an eye out for a vibrant array of cartoonishly bright fungi – electric blue, red and orange. The viewing platform to Philosopher Falls is a bit of a climb – there are more than 200 steps – but the view of the dramatic multi-tiered waterfall plunging down the green rock face is worth it. The trailhead is a nine-kilometre drive out of Waratah on the B23 road to Corinna and the trek is an easy 45 minutes each way.
Marvel at panoramic views of the wild north west
Sample the best of the takayna / Tarkine in one go by climbing Mount Donaldson on foot. The Mount Donaldson Summit Walk showcases the area’s rich mix of rainforest, eucalyptus forest, buttongrass moorland and rocky coastline. A seven-kilometre round trip, it takes about three hours to complete. Starting from Savage River Bridge, roughly 10 minutes north of Corinna, the trail begins in rainforest that gradually becomes eucalypt before ascending into vast buttongrass moorland. When you reach the 420-metre summit there are spectacular panoramic views of the takayna / Tarkine wilderness, Pieman River and the Southern Ocean. Cyclists can hit the Silver City Mountain Bike Trails just out of Zeehan, an hour south of Corinna. Here, a range of loops offer trails for all levels of biking experience and summit points reveal views of the vast scope of this wilderness. The exposed plains can be rather windy and rain is common so pack accordingly. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some wildlife along the way, such as burrowing crayfish, echidnas and kingfishers. Takayna / Tarkine is also home to wombats, bandicoots, possums and its most famous resident, the Tasmanian devil.
Wonder at hidden depths at Trowutta Arch
Formed by the collapse of an ancient cave, Trowutta Arch divides two sinkholes; one filled with water and the other populated by huge ferns. Winding through the rich growth of Trowutta Caves State Reserve, this easy 1.1-kilometre hike starts on Gun Road (off Tayatea Road, about 50 minutes’ drive south of Stanley). It takes about 15 minutes of comfortable walking with just a few stairs before you reach the arch and its brilliant green waterhole, a colour created by algae on the surface of the 20-metre-deep pool.
Stand on the Edge of the World
There’s a spiritual element to the Edge of the World lookout at Gardiner Point, where a plaque commemorates the starting point of the longest uninterrupted stretch of ocean in the world – west from this latitude, you wouldn’t hit land until Argentina. Located at the south of the tiny township of Arthur River, the Edge of the World mostly draws visitors from the Tarkine Drive, a sealed road that’s a 130-kilometre loop from Smithton. The conditions at the Edge of the World can be wild – think ferocious winds and roaring waves crashing into rocks. It’s also the point where the ancient rainforest and river meet the ocean. At the lookout, feel the power of the elements and learn about the Tarkiner people, one of three Aboriginal tribes to inhabit the west coast.
Where to stay
Corinna Wilderness Village
Stay right in the heart of the takayna / Tarkine wilderness in Corinna Wilderness Village, a former gold mining settlement. There are rustic miner’s cottages sleeping two or four, or the original 1893 Old Pub which dates from gold mining days and sleeps five. The eco retreats offer walking maps and river cruises, and the Fatman Barge provides transport north or south across the Pieman River. Stop by Tannin restaurant for some delicious local produce such as Tasmanian salmon and local Scotch fillet to refuel after a long day’s trekking.
The Inlet – Stanley
Choose from one of four luxury beach houses tucked into the dunes of a secluded private beach at The Inlet Stanley, each with incredible views. The beach houses are located on a cattle farm 4.5 kilometres from the charming fishing port of Stanley. Try the quirky Stanley Wine Bar in a Victorian cottage full of eclectic upcycled furnishings and enjoy a crisp Tasmanian white and King Island cheeses. And be sure to visit The Nut – the remains of an ancient volcanic plug 152 metres high. Climb to its summit or take the chairlift for views over Stanley. Its name is thought to be an abbreviation of the Tasmanian Aboriginal name, munatrik (moo-nut-re-ker).