One of the most precious places on earth

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Tasmania
Discovering one of the most rare and valuable wildernesses an hour south of home…

I’m ashamed to admit that Tasmania is largely dismissed by Australians. The only time we might mention this triangular island of the south is when we’re looking for a discreet way to describe pubic hair. “A map of Tassie,” may sound harmless to a non-Australian, but to us it creates a descriptive visual with the dual function of sucker-punching the guts of this little sister island that hangs below the mainland.

We Melburnians have a lot of pent up rage from not being Sydney and unfortunately Tasmania bears the brunt of our inferiority complex. I myself know the feeling: I’m the fifth child out of six and was therefore bullied all the way down the line until my younger sister was born. Poking fun at your siblings is a right of passage after all.

Okay, so I admit I’ve enjoyed a giggle or two at Tasmania’s expense, but the adventurer in me felt it was time to get to know this part of our country in depth. I set off to find out what this remote outpost is all about.

Map Tasmania

A small REX prop plane dropped me off in Burnie in the north-west corner of the state. Forget about congested freeways—the road out of town was but a narrow country road devoid of traffic, which eventually turned into compacted dirt as fine and white as baby powder. I was travelling rapidly from remote to remoter. I had no idea what I would find around the bends.

Tasmania_Road_1 Tasmania_Road_2

Tasmania Lighthouse

Tasmania Tulip Farm

Tasmania Tulip Farm

Table Cape Lighthouse, Wynyard

I had to be careful about fuelling up when I could—the towns were stretched far apart. Also, I was hungry and hadn’t seen a café since Burnie. It appeared my options were going to be a roadkill wombat or the upholstery of my rental car (what is the excess for a gnawed headrest?) until I finally arrived at a shack containing a petrol pump and a basic store, where I bought a meat pie and a bag of chips from a friendly old lady in a floral housedress.

Evidently I’d stepped into a time-machine and pressed the ‘Australia Circa 1969’ button. It looked like Hollywood’s laughable interpretation of Down Under.

But I was having so much fun. I was exploring a place as tucked-away and unpretentious as the isles of the South Pacific. Back on the road, I passed increasingly dense clusters of ancient huon pines and sassafras and hundred-year-old ferns giving shade to the undergrowth with their wide umbrellas.

I was a real adventurer on a real expedition, exactly like Bear Grylls if Bear were to set off exploring in a air-conditioned Hyundai hatchback while multitasking the eating of a meat pie with singing a bad rendition of Lorde’s Royals at the top of his lungs.

I’d found the upside of being the bullied younger sibling. Overlooked beauty of epic proportions. Uninhabited wilderness. A forgotten destination, all to myself.

Tasmania_Road_3

Tasmania Road

The road to Corinna in the Tarkine Region

I arrived at an eco retreat in the Tarkine region—one of the largest cool temperate rainforests on earth and the biggest in Australia. On a riverboat cruise I met Dale, a boat captain who had an endearing passion for trees. “That is a male huon pine,” he’d say, eyes glazed over with affection. “There’s a beautiful female up the river, I’ll take you there.”

Tasmania Corinna Wilderness Retreat

Tasmania_Huon_Pine

Corinna Dale Riverboat Captain

For two hours we cruised along the mirrored river, which snaked through uninhabited greenery. Dale told me all about the forests of Tasmania: its global importance, the logging history and how these forests, dense with ancient trees, make all the wart-faced logging moguls pat their pockets and twiddle their fat fingers with delight.

Dale’s enthusiasm for woody perennials was infectious, and from then on I found myself standing before all trees with the hooded eyes of a lover. Thanks to Dale, I had a newfound possessiveness for keeping these wildernesses intact. You touch this rainforest I kill you!

Tasmania was getting under my skin.

Tasmanian Wilderness

Tasmania’s ancient forests are constantly under risk. It’s easy to feel indifferent to news reports of plans to fell thousands of hectares when your concept of the wilderness is nothing more than a green spot on a map, but when you walk among the towering giants that make up these forests and brush past their mossy beards, you will feel differently. You will know why cutting them down is nothing short of violent abuse to one of the most important destinations on earth.

Tasmania_Moss

“It is akin to mining the great pyramids of Egypt for road gravel,” said Greens minister Nick McKim.

Well put, Mr. McKim, but it’s also much worse than that. This is a world heritage site of extremely rare value.

A site is deemed worthy of a World Heritage ranking when it becomes listed by UNESCO as having outstanding universal importance for either cultural or natural reasons, or a combination of both. If a site meets one or more of ten possible criteria, it can become world heritage listed. The Pyrénées meets five criteria, the Great Barrier reef meets four, Yellowstone National Park meets four, Angor Wat meets four, the Serengeti meets two.

There are only two places in the world that meet as many as seven of the ten criteria. Mount Tai in China and the Tasmanian Wilderness.

The Tasmanian Wilderness, people.

This is not travel writer hyperbole: this is literally one of the most precious places on earth.

Gordon River Tasmanian Wilderness

Tasmania

Tasmanian_Wilderness2

Gordon River

The only reason you might not know that is because the island is tucked away in the pubic regions of this already-remote country. It’s faraway, forgotten and dismissed, which works to its advantage, yes, but also to its detriment. Who will really understand what is being destroyed? Who will fight for it?

If there is only one reason that you should add Tasmania to your bucket list now, it’s to meet the gentle giants of the forest, to be among the heartbeat of a rare and precious wilderness, and to understand first-hand why it’s your job and mine to protect this island from harm.

Tasmanian_Wilderness3

Southern Ocean, Tasmania

Tasmanian Wilderness

My trip was sponsored by Tasmania Tourism and Go Behind the Scenery but all opinions, references to pubic hair and mentions of greedy, fat fingered logging moguls are entirely my own. A big thanks to Dale for obvious reasons, as well as the cosy Corinna Wilderness Retreat.  

Leave a Comment

  • Pat Killalea February 25, 2014, 1:36 am

    Reading this sent shivers down my spine! Wake up Tasmania and realise what we have.

    Reply
  • Joy February 25, 2014, 2:57 am

    Love your travel blog and terrific photos! We travel there on the ferry in our Subaru for a month lots of years when we need a “Tassie Fix”. I can feel the need coming on!

    Reply
  • Jimmy Dau February 25, 2014, 5:09 am

    Beautiful photos. I’ve been to Tassie twice and loved it. Fiercely proud and with a honesty that is quite endearing. Oh and the food is incredible. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 3, 2014, 4:44 am

      Thanks, Jimmy. The food is indeed great—farm fresh. I had a beautiful milk there that had cream on top like in the good ol’ days.

      Reply
  • Jen February 25, 2014, 9:29 am

    Great writing and photos Torre. I feel like Tassie is really starting to move onto the worlds radar and that we, as Aussies, should get there soon before the rest of the world discovers it.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 3, 2014, 4:45 am

      Thanks, Jen. Yes, it’s worth getting there while it’s still cheap and uncrowded!

      Reply
  • Janice Stringer February 25, 2014, 10:39 am

    Nice to hear your voice in a post, Torre. Tasmania looks wonderful to this Englishwoman, especially as I sit here in the pouring rain, looking out over another dismal winters day! Australia is one of my most favourite countries in the world and I love to hear other peoples adventures and discoveries, especially if it is a part of their own country. :-)

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 3, 2014, 4:46 am

      Thanks so much, Janice. I was lucky enough to get four straight days of sunshine in Tasmania. The weather was perfect to me (30 degrees Celsius), but the locals were complaining of the heat!

      Reply
  • Lisa February 25, 2014, 1:47 pm

    Brilliant post that’s brought back very fond memories. I spent a few months travelling around Australia a few years ago, and Tasmania was definitely one of my highlights. It’s a shame that so few travellers venture there, but it makes it all the more special for those that do.

    Reply
  • Joel Stephenson @ Borderline Collective February 25, 2014, 2:05 pm

    Great post! It’s so easy to dismiss and forget about the beauty that resides right on our own doorsteps. I’m often so eager to visit new places and have new adventures, that I see right past the fact that people from all over the world come to visit the very place I live. Tasmania is definitely going on my list of places to visit! Looks spectacular.

    Reply
  • Katie @ Domestiphobia February 25, 2014, 4:03 pm

    This was just so beautifully written I can’t even stand it.

    Reply
  • Kim Schutte February 25, 2014, 8:02 pm

    Ha- it’s funny how little brother/sister rivalries happen between states. Here in Tennessee, no matter what ridiculousness happens in our state, atleast we’re not Alabama.

    I spent several months in your fine country a couple years ago; I never made it to Uluru, never made it to Melbourne (sorry…) and I never made it the Great Barrier Reef, and yet somehow ended up in Tasmania. I can concur with everything you’ve said. It is a stunningly beautiful place. (And yes, I am going back some day to rectify all my Australian travel mistakes.)

    Reply
  • Andi February 25, 2014, 10:02 pm

    These photos are absolutely gorgeous!!!!!

    Reply
    • Joel Stephenson February 27, 2014, 10:33 pm

      It’s incredible how diverse the landscape looks. Tasmania seems to have everything from thick green forest, to shrubs to desert!

      Reply
  • Sarah Somewhere February 25, 2014, 10:57 pm

    Absolutely beautiful, Torre. I felt like I was right there with you, and for a rare moment, wished I was back in the land of Oz. Such an important message, thanks so much for for telling it.

    Reply
  • sarah February 26, 2014, 3:16 pm

    Tassie was one of my favorite places when we visited Australia in 2001. It felt very much like my native Pacific Northwest region of the US, and I fell in love with Hobart the moment I visited. I will be back, Tassie. And don’t let those people make fun of you; they can save that for Queensland. ;-)

    Reply
  • Millie Noe February 26, 2014, 5:55 pm

    Wow. Beautiful pictures and wonderful sentiments. Tasmania must remain Tasmania. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Reply
  • Toni February 27, 2014, 5:17 pm

    This is very much on my to do list now when I get back to Oz! Your photos are amazing Torre – it looks so serene and peaceful :)

    Reply
  • Karyn @ Not Done Travelling February 28, 2014, 1:00 am

    I agree, the Tassie wilderness is one of the most beautiful – if not THE most beautiful – places I have ever seen. I can’t believe anybody could ever dream of putting a chainsaw to one of these mighty giants.

    Have you heard about March in March? It’s a nationwide event happening in less than two weeks. There is a website and Facebook pages that have been set up for every town where the march is taking place. I’ll be at the Melbourne one – I think this is an issue well worth protesting about.

    Reply
  • Oliver March 1, 2014, 12:41 pm

    Stunning shots and a wonderful ode! I really like how “one of the most precious places on earth” is just an hour away from home… :) Wilderness is a immense inspiration and a soothing experience indeed!

    Reply
  • Carmel March 4, 2014, 7:35 am

    Looks gorgeous. I’ve been blown away by the seemingly untouched beauty of Western Australia…but it seems like Tasmania is even more remote.

    Reply
  • Hristina March 15, 2014, 11:46 am

    my partner and i just spent a week traveling the north-west. such a special place. very majestic; the tarkine, franklin river, stanley and the fresh air. us melbourne folk are so lucky it is so close.

    Reply
  • Nathan March 31, 2014, 7:47 pm

    This place looks absolutely gorgeous! Thank you for the amazing pictures.

    Reply