Think the Tasmanian wilderness is only for hardcore adventurers? Think again.
If you’re up for an escape from the modern world without sacrificing creature comforts or working up a sweat, head to Corrina on the edge of the Tarkine in Tasmania’s northwest.
Hidden in Australia’s largest temperate rainforest, this once-thriving gold-rush village is about as remote as it gets (even by Tassie standards). With the only serviced accommodation inside the Tarkine, and without phone connection, wi-fi, TV or radio, it’s a chance to unplug from reality in a cosy one- or two-bedroom restored (or new) miner’s cottage (complete with kitchen and en-suite) and immerse in nature.
The central pub, full of quirky antiques, memorabilia and stories of bygone days, is the hub for meals, with hearty country fare rivalling city fine-dining restaurants – don’t miss the steak. For those who prefer, self-catering is also an option.
To further nourish your body and soul, soft adventures abound with a mix of self-guided and organised activities. Here are a few ideas to break in those hiking boots and breathe in some of the freshest air on the planet.
Tiptoe through Nature’s cathedral
Only a few steps away from the cottages, myriad trails criss-cross through rainforest so dense you literally won’t see the forest for the trees. Marked trails rated easy, moderate and moderately difficult are linked with suggested timing. The short (20-minute) Huon-pine, disability-friendly boardwalk features a series of information boards to help identify the towering canopy of trees blanketing the sky. From sassafras to celery tops, myrtles to the revered Huon pines, branches entwine as ancient trees seem to simply fall into each other’s arms.
Another mild but wild walk is the Whyte River trail (1.5 hours) that meanders along the edge of the Pieman River. In early morning, dappled light flickers through the leaves illuminating innumerable species of lichens and fungi clinging to branches and creeping along logs. Patience might also bring the reward of spotting a platypus or two along this stretch of the river.
Cruise the Pieman River on the only Huon-pine river cruiser in the world
“This is the best river cruise in the state,” claims Les Sims, skipper of the Arcadia II. “How do I know? Because I’ve done them all.”
Built of Huon pine in 1939, Arcadia II is a fine example of superb engineering and craftsmanship. From the ship’s wheel to the curved beams, tongue-and-groove panelling and classic seats, the treasured honey-coloured wood gives a sense of nostalgia. After a history as a private luxury craft, WWII supply vessel, scallop boat and a passenger cruiser on the Gordon River, the Pieman has been her home since 1970.
Skipper Les Sims’ passion for the area is highlighted with his running commentary as the boat glides along water so still it creates frames of mathematically perfect symmetrical patterns.
You’ll discover the difference between male and female Huon pine trees, find out the back story to the stunning Lover’s Falls (no spoilers) and hopefully catch a glimpse of sea eagles swooping down to catch fish.
Paddle your own canoe
You won’t find any white water here – just a gentle paddle up or down the Pieman River.
Early morning is usually the best time for the calmest of conditions. The routes are self guided, and you can choose to hire a single kayak or double canoe. Safety briefs are given prior to setting out, and comfy life jackets are supplied.
Heading upstream, the Whyte River route is a two-hour return trip paddling in the wake of the gold prospectors who had good success in this part of the Tarkine.
Downstream lies Savage River, a tributary of the Pieman tucked behind branches draping over the waterway and where you’ll see the twisted remains of the steamship S.S. Croydon, shipwrecked in 1919. For a round trip with a difference, tie up the kayaks at the pontoon and hike back along the Savage River trail; it’s a 1.5-hour walk, rated moderate.
Spot local wildlife
No wilderness experience is complete without hanging out with the local wildlife. From the dawn chorus of birdsong to the cute pademelons munching on tender shoots of ribbon grass in the river at dusk, the Tarkine is home to a variety of creatures. Look out for the rare Astacopsis Gouldi, the largest freshwater crayfish in the world, plus Tassie devils, wombats, and platypus.
Explore the edge of the world
Wild and rugged, this is the spot where Australia’s highest wave (19 metres) was recorded – Pieman Heads is a glimpse into the power of nature. Driftwood logs, piled up by currents and the pounding Southern Ocean, line the beach like discarded boxes of matches. A clutch of beach shacks smatters the landscape – the holiday homes of diehard off-the-grid-lovers. Take a cruise via the Arcadia II and spend a day exploring this fascinating place where the river meets the sea.
Stroll along the beach and marvel at the trees that move in time with the wind, standing bent over like wooden sculptures. Look out for the ‘gum tree’, a modern-day art installation, dotted with random gumboots hanging from its limbs. Throw in a line and try your hand catching a big one, or simply sit and ponder the rich history of our forefathers.
Corrina can be reached by car either from Hobart (around 5 hours including crossing the Pieman River on the Fatboy barge) or Launceston (around 3.5 hours).