The Apple Isle’s hidden Tarkine wilderness is at risk of being permanently lost from mining, logging and roading. Ryan Auberson-Walsh traces the recent path of the huge wilderness area. (photography by Matthew Newton).
A gentle clash between humankind and nature, the vast, near-untouched region of Tasmania is home to more than 60 rare, vulnerable or endangered species of flora and fauna (See our ‘Trekking the Tarkine‘ feature).
From biomes that range between dense rainforests to coastal dunes, and mountain ranges to sparse scrubland, the area is a natural Eden for wedge-tailed eagles, southern bell frogs, Huon pines and other endemic creatures. During the past century, a number of efforts have been made to conserve the Tarkine for its sheer natural beauty, Aboriginal cultural value and colonial heritage that lightly dots the wilderness. Notable dates in the giant site’s preservation history are marked below.
1937 – Government surveyor Sergeant Summers recommends region be made a sanctuary for the now-extinct Tasmanian Tiger.
1967 – Circular Head council pushes for National Park in the Tarkine.
1973 –Kanunnah Bridge over Arthur River opened by Forestry Commission leads to exploitation of State Forest.
1982 – 100,000ha of Tarkine reserved as Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area.
2002 – Federal government recognises Tarkine’s outstanding natural and cultural significance by inscribing region on Register of the National Estate. Forestry Tasmania announces desire to lift a 20-year logging moratorium on pristine rainforest.
2005 – Then PM John Howard and then Tasmanian premier Paul Lennon protect an additional 70,000ha of rainforest.
2007 – Then Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, places Tarkine on Australian Heritage Council’s 2007/08 priority assessment program.
2010 – Tony Burke, former Environment Minister, announces nearly all of 433,000ha recommended for heritage listing to be unprotected from mining.
2011 – Australian Heritage Council recommends 447,000ha be placed on National Heritage List. The report soon disappears from website records.
Nov. 17, 2012 – 3,000 people rally in Burnie to support Our Tarkine, Our Future.
Dec. 18, 2012 – Minister Burke approves open cut iron ore mine for Shree Minerals in Tasmanian Devil population area still unaffected by facial tumour disease.
July 1, 2013 – Federal Court finds Burke’s approval of mine unlawful.
Oct. 2013 – Save the Tarkine mounts a Federal Court challenge regarding Shree Minerals’ mine.
Hiking into the remote region can be done with Tarkine Trails, where visitors will witness three angles of wilderness, encompassing sprawling rainforests and coastline. Adventure-seekers can take their touring one step further by wading into Tarkine Forest Adventures at Dismal Swap, where a 110-metre high slide to the forest floor lays dormant, ready for use. For those wishing to lend a helping hand, Save the Tarkine offers up a bundle of information.