Travel to Tassie’s west and you’re in for a thrilling sight: the his­tory-steeped Pie­man River and the mys­ti­cal, jun­gle-es­que set­ting of Corinna, in­clud­ing the only Huon pine river cruiser in the world

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - ESCAPE - WORDS PENNY MCLEOD The writer was a guest of Corinna Wilder­ness Ex­pe­ri­ence

We are tan­ta­lis­ingly close to our des­ti­na­tion – Corinna on the Pie­man River in Tas­ma­nia’s western wilder­ness – af­ter an epic drive. We’ve seen many land­scapes head­ing west from Ho­bart to Queen­stown and north through Zee­han, but none as sur­pris­ing as this: it’s as if we’ve en­tered a pre­his­toric rain­for­est along a tun­nel-like, 12km un­sealed white sil­ica road. Could there re­ally be a river and town­ship nearby, I won­der, af­ter a road trip of more than six hours.

Fi­nally, we ar­rive at the wa­ter’s edge and there’s a pal­pa­ble mood shift as we tum­ble out of the car to stretch legs and see where we’re stay­ing across the dark, tea-coloured river on the south­ern edge of the Tarkine an­cient rain­for­est re­gion.

It’s a thrilling sight: just be­yond the ferry barge, on the op­po­site side of the river, we no­tice a few rooftops in a jun­gle-like set­ting. The river is empty ex­cept for some kayak­ers and a beautiful boat – Arcadia II – the only Huon pine river cruiser in the world. Corinna looks and feels re­mote, yet it’s re­sort-like, too, with kayak­ers pad­dling and tour­ing ve­hi­cles com­ing and go­ing across the barge.

“We could swim across,” sug­gests our youngest while wait­ing for the Fat­man, the cable-driven ve­hic­u­lar barge, to col­lect us.

The 100km river is nar­row in parts and up to 45m deep, but it’s not ideal for swim­ming. The tan­nin-stained wa­ters hide the skele­tons of gi­ant fallen eu­ca­lypts and myr­tle beech trees, fish in­clud­ing brook trout, and shipwrecks. The his­toric gold­min­ing town is run a bit like an eco-re­sort, of­fer­ing kayak­ing, walk­ing, boat­ing, fish­ing, bird­watch­ing and na­ture ex­pe­ri­ences.

There are 19 one and two-bed­room cot­tages, ac­com­mo­da­tion for eight in the old pub and some spots for camp­ing. The en­tire vil­lage is so­lar-pow­ered and there’s no wi-fi or TV, which makes both the Tarkine Ho­tel and Tan­nin Restau­rant pop­u­lar in the evenings. There are nu­mer­ous mapped and sign-posted bush­walks from Corinna, and we set off on the 70 to 90-minute Whyte River Walk in the late af­ter­noon on our first day af­ter set­tling into our cot­tage.

We pass some RVs and tent plat­forms be­neath the tow­er­ing trees at the wa­ter’s edge as we en­ter a pris­tine tem­per­ate rain­for­est known for its colour­ful fungi, frogs and tree species in­clud­ing the Huon pine, cel­ery top pine, sas­safras and King Billy pine. It’s dark and quiet as we am­ble along, and we’re deep in the for­est when we see an am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­pher from in­ter­state in search of a pink robin. “We have lots of those in our gar­den,” our youngest tells him.

She’s think­ing of the com­mon red robin, though, and the pho­tog­ra­pher is ef­fu­sive about the pink bird’s delicate beauty.

Our ad­ven­ture con­tin­ues the next day, on the Pie­man River – first on Arcadia II as part of a four-hour re­turn trip to the shack com­mu­nity at Pie­man Heads, and later kayak­ing on the Sav­age River, off the Pie­man, where the for­est seems truly pre­his­toric. We glide over the wreck of the steamship Croy­don, which sank in 1919. We kayak back to Corinna in time for happy hour at the ho­tel, some ta­ble tennis and a nice meal at the restau­rant.

The next day we see a pink robin and scram­ble to take a photo of it. Soon af­ter­wards, we see the pho­tog­ra­pher who had like­wise fi­nally caught sight of it and had photos to prove it.

The Pie­man River and the Arcadia

II and, above, a cot­tage at Corinna

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