Sunday Drive to the Tarkine


Naomi and I wanted to do another drive over the weekend but the weather forecast was all over the place. Saturday was bright and sunny although the forecast was for rain. It would have been an ideal day to go out but at 9am it already felt pretty warm outside. The maximum was only to be about 24 degrees Celsius but while in Adelaide I’d have considered that a pleasant day here in Tassie the heat seems different. The sun has a bite and 24 feels much hotter. Or maybe it is just us getting old. Anyway, to cut a long story short we decided to wait till Sunday or Monday and see if it would be cooler as we wanted to be able to go for a walk without feeling uncomfortable.

Sunday morning came and it was raining quite heavily, as the forecast had predicted. We waited until 10:30am and then decided that we would go anyway. Our plan was to drive to Marrawah in the far northwest and then to Arthur River. After that we’d see how we felt.

We left home about twenty minutes later and arrived at Marrawah not long after noon. On the spur of the moment, we decided to have lunch at the Marrawah Inn. We had never been there before and we were impressed with the food and the service. We will definitely visit again to eat as it’s only a bit over an hour from home. We’d have got there sooner but we were following a car that was going very slowly and there was nowhere to safely overtake for most of the time.

The weather was not great but it wasn’t terrible either, overcast, a bit on the cool side and occasional showers which never got so heavy that it was too unpleasant to drive in. Naomi’s Chrysler 300C takes care of things like putting the headlights and wipers on by itself so that made things much easier.

Arthur River was larger than I expected. It is a popular holiday spot. We had planned to visit one lookout on the coast but it turned out to be down a gravel road so we changed our minds. As the Chrysler is new Naomi doesn’t really want to take it on unsealed roads. But it is OK. She still has Wazza, her Ford Falcon so another time we will come in him and visit all the little beachside viewing spots between Marrawah, Arthur River and Couta Rocks which is a bit further down the road. This is mostly farming country until you come to Couta Rocks.

At Couta Rocks we turned inland to start the Tarkine Drive which would eventually bring us back to the Bass Highway. Before I go any further, I had better explain what the Tarkine is. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the controversy that has surrounded this area over the past few decades in this post but I may in a future one when I’ve done some reading on the subject. It’s a complicated topic that covers forestry, mining, tourism and conservation.

The Tarkine Drive, Tasmania

The Tarkine, or Takayna is named for the Tarkiner People who have lived in the region for 40,000 years. It is cool temperate rainforest with trees such as Celery Top Pine, Beech Myrtle, Sassafras, Huon Pine and Leatherwood. A tourist drive has been developed through the area, mostly on sealed roads. It has interpretive signs at the various lookouts and picnic areas and there are walks that range from a few minutes easy stroll on a boardwalk to much longer and more challenging hikes. The Tarkine Drive brochure is one of the most popular with the people who come to the visitor centre in Wynyard where I volunteer. I will leave a link to the brochure at the end of this post because I consider it to be an excellent source of information.

There were a lot of these narrow one lane bridges.

I took a lot of photos and as you can see the weather was dull throughout. I could have edited in nice blue skies but I decided not to. I did very little photo editing as I wanted you to see what I saw. The greens really are that bright.

Moss on a fallen tree

One of the things we usually tell tourists is not to try and do all the stops on the drive in one day if they really want to appreciate the experience. If they are staying in the area for a few days we suggest picking the stopping points that suit their needs depending on how much walking they want to do and what facilities they want to use. This was the approach that Naomi and I took ourselves. We ignored detours onto gravel roads and strenuous walks and looked for the easier half hour walks on formed paths. As we didn’t leave Marrawah till well after 1pm we knew we would not be able to see everything but also that we could easily come back another day as we are fortunate enough to live reasonably close.

The first place we stopped was the Sumac Lookout. This had a very easy path to a lookout where we could see the river far below.

Our next stop was at Julius River. This is has toilet and BBQ facilities and two walks you can do. We chose the easier one which started out on a boardwalk but at the river bank the formed path ended. We were a bit concerned by the signage warning people that they could slip and fall on the next section. It had been wet remember so we decided not to do the full walk after all. We do want to come back and try to do it properly another time and attempt the longer walk. That would have taken over an hour and we didn’t feel we had the time.

After Julius River we made another stop, a 4km detour to Lake Chisholm. There was another walk there but I was not able to complete it. I’ve probably mentioned that I have a fear of falling. The path had a lot of tree roots which we had to step carefully over, but one was on a bit of a slope. Not that steep but there was no railing or even a tree trunk that I could use to feel secure. I just couldn’t do it so I told Naomi to go on without me. If we are going to do a lot of this sort of walking I may need to get some sort of stick to help my confidence. If I had fallen it would have been difficult for me to get up and Naomi might have hurt herself trying to help me. If we’d both gone down, well that doesn’t bear thinking about because not one other car came down that road while we were there.

road to Lake Chisholm

I spent my time taking some more photos. We were just in awe of the height of some of the trees we saw. I wish that I could somehow include the smell of the air there as well. It was wonderful.

A moss-covered tree stump

We did make one last brief stop before leaving the Tarkine. We had just crossed the Arthur River at Tayatea and Naomi asked me if I wanted to get a picture so I did.

After leaving Tayatea the scenery gradually returned to farmlands and we passed through the tiny hamlets of Trowutta, Edith Creek and Irishtown before rejoining the Bass Highway near Stanley. The rain had come back by then and it was foggy in patches but we had a good run home, getting back to Sisters Beach at around 6:45pm. It’s Daylight Saving Time here at the moment so it was still light.

All in all it was a great day out and it was nice to be able to forget Covid and all the bad news for a while and enjoy the natural scenery.

Further Reading:

Taswegian1957

I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband, David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on WordPress.com with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. Currently we have five pets between us. Naomi's two dogs Toby and Teddy and cats, Tigerwoods and Panther and my cat Polly. My dog Cindy passed away aged 16 in April 2022.

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