Dining with the devils – Australia Tourism News

The Tarkine has been called Australia’s last forgotten wilderness, stretching across 450,000 hectares from the Arthur River in the north to the Pieman River in southern Tasmania.

The Murchison Highway in the east and the coast complete its boundaries.

As well as the stunning coast it contains the second largest temperate rainforest in the world, and the largest in the southern hemisphere.

The name Tarkine is not on many maps, because for years the State Government wanted to log rather than market it.

Conservationists claim local tourism operators were not allowed to use the name, with the Government preferring the less romantic Savage River Pipeline corridor forest.

Now the Government has embraced it and hopes to develop it as a huge tourist drawcard, up there with places like Kakadu.

It believes the best way to do that is to build a road through its northern fringe, with at least six kilometres going through virgin rainforest.

The plans are causing a huge row in Tasmania and are becoming as divisive as the plans to log it.

The Government says the loss of the forests will be more than offset by extra reserves and that the road will attract tourists from all over the world.

But many tourism operators do not want the road, saying it may even detract from the area and conservationists claim it will open the area up to further logging.

Others say it will make the area accessible to hundreds of thousands of people and give the north west a huge tourist draw card.

We went to speak with the sceptics and the supporters and the trip gave us an opportunity to sample some of the unique attractions the region has to offer.

Such as filming a myrtle tree, surrounded by bright psychedelic fungi and a rich forest, which the locals claim is 1,000 years old and one of the biggest in Tasmania.

Another highlight was travelling to the coast and meeting up with farmer turned tourism operator Geoff King (he prefers Joe King as in joking), who runs a unique business collecting road kill and feeding it to Australia’s largest marsupial predator, the Tasmanian devil.

After some serious off road slogging through the dunes, we reach the coast and Joe’s lonely beach hut where he takes the tourists.

It is surrounded by jagged rocks that rear up out of the ocean.

Feeding time

The rugged beauty of the place created a feeling like you are at the end of the earth, but the serenity was soon disrupted by a grisly act.

In preparation for the evening’s entertainment, Joe staked out a wallaby collected earlier, so tourists could gather just metres away and watch as the devils feasted in this unique kitchen.

As well as the wild coastline, Joe showed us some of the area’s Aboriginal history.

He says it is one of the richest archaeological sites in the world and you do not have to look hard to find the remains of the people who lived here for thousands of years.

We found a hut depression on the edge of the coast; it was a powerful experience.

Eventually though we had to push on to Corinna on the southern fringe of the Tarkine.

It is an old mining ghost town that has been converted in an eco tourism venture.

Accomodation is in a pub that was built in the 1870s when people were flocking here trying to strike it rich during the gold rush.

Overnight it gets down to around zero degrees and even with too much wine and a fire, it’s bloody freezing.

The pub has been in the wild rainforest for around 130 years, and the draughts let the cold wind through, but any complaints are forgotten when the morning light exposes the region’s dramatic beauty.

We walk down to the lush banks of the Pieman River for a cruise up its still waters.

The morning mist is slowly burning off and as we chug up the river in the boat, the sun reveals the lush river banks with their thick ancient rainforests of Myrtle, Huon Pine and Sassafras, including a Huon the guide reckons is 2,000 years old.

When we interview him I am so cold my brain feels like it has frozen over and I start the interview by calling him Brett (real name Craig).

After getting a great interview and some stunning pictures of the river we begin our long drive back to Hobart to put the story together.

Travelling through the Tarkine was an incredible experience.

Even though you probably will not be able to find it on a map, it is a place that is well worth a visit, and it is easy to see why both sides are so passionate about its future.

For more on this story, watch The 7.30 Report, ABC1, May 13 2009.

Courtesy: ABC News

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