WILD FOR WEST TASSIE
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
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