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Van Journal Week 15: The Tarkine

Van Journal Week 15: The Tarkine

Our tour of Tasmania hasn’t been the most conventional. It hasn’t been the most practical either, with many back-and-forths across the island due to several visitors, turns in weather and a few mishaps with camera gear. Either way, it sure has been a great ride, and I still wouldn’t change a thing.

It’s like that sometimes when you’re on the road. Itineraries change and plans fail, but we don’t get sour about it. In the end, the butterfly effect, the small changes we make, will send the dominos falling down a completely new path. Before you know it, you’ve stumbled upon something new, met new friends or had an experience that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. People don’t really tend to think about how small decisions pan out in the big scheme of things, and it’s almost impossible to attribute circumstance to those small choices. Instead, the human condition subconsciously fixates on the negative; the misconception that the original plan hadn’t worked out the way we’d planned.

Living presently has the effect of resetting that way of thinking. It’s about going with the flow and embracing change and spontaneity.

Australian van life tasmania
Olly gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler & adventure photographer for 6 years with 700+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.

The Tarkine

Finally, though it was time for us to head to Tasmania’s Tarkine– the largest expanse of cool tropical rainforest in Australia and the second largest in the world. While being home to a wide range of rare, protected and endangered flora and fauna, this incredibly rich landscape has failed to be recognised as the national and global treasure it is.

The lack of a formal national parks designation has meant that the Tarkine has been and continues to be threatened. Large areas of the rainforest have already been clear-felled for logging and for mining operations. But as you might already know, there is a deep-rooted divide in the cultural narrative unique in Tasmania. This has involved a horrific frontline clash between activists and loggers, which has existed for decades. As an outsider, it’s important to look at the situation from an unbiased perspective. I do understand that many Tasmanians rely on logging and mining to feed their families. As it stands today, many rural townships simply wouldn’t exist without the industry keeping them afloat.

One thing’s for sure though, whichever side of the fence you’re on, one must recognise that continued felling and clearing of this landscape is not sustainable. I strongly believe that once someone has experienced the ancient beauty of the Tarkine for themselves, the answer will be clear. Felling and infrastructure development isn’t and can’t be the future. But how can these towns survive without it?

I believe that tourism can help to fill that gap.

Below is a video from Patagonia outlining the current struggle facing the Tarkine; a proposed Tailings Dam by the Chinese-government owned mining company MMG.

YouTube video

Exploring Northern Tasmania

Before we headed out to the Tarkine, we spent a few days exploring some of Northern Tassie’s waterfalls. Below are some highlights with photos.

Stanley & The Nut

Before we got onto the famous “Tarkine Drive“, we stopped over in Stanley to climb “The Nut” for sunset. This unique geological feature is a primary attraction in Northern Tasmania. It’s the remains of an ancient volcanic plug with a large, flat top that you can either take a chairlift up or circumnavigate on foot.

The Tarkine Drive

Finally, it was time to head into the Tarkine. This region is notoriously wild and there really isn’t much information online in regards to hikes and trails. That’s because much of it falls within future logging or development zones. So, we decided to take the “Tarkine Drive” and to just venture off and try to find some beautiful spots and hidden gems where we could.

As is usually the case in Tasmania this time of the year, the weather wasn’t on our side when we decided to hit the road to the Tarkine. However, we took the rain and winds as a blessing which allowed us to experience this wild place in its real element. Here are a few photos from our time exploring the Tarkine.

We spent much of this week “winging it”, and essentially just exploring the region including Arthur River, Pieman River, the Sumac and Trowutta. If you’re reading this weekly journal to get some inspiration for your trip, then I’d recommend driving to Trowutta on the “Tarkine Drive”. But, don’t end the adventure there. Take the roads less travelled and you will be rewarded with some amazing, off-the-beaten-path unmarked trails through incredibly beautiful rainforest.

Read more: The Tarkine Drive – A Complete Guide

Edge of The World

We ended up staying on the coast to sleep each night. One of the spots was the “Edge of the World“, a famous point on the west coast with a great lookout. The wind was fierce and the waves crashed on the lichen-covered rocks with vicious intent– a profound reminder of the fact that we really were at the “Edge of the World”. Looking directly west, our line of sight would continue far into the horizon. If our sight had no physical limit, we’d eventually spot landfall on the eastern coast of Argentina, all the way around the globe.

The edge of the world
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I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure travel journalist & photographer. Traveling non-stop since 2018, I've published over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. These draw on my personal experience to share unique itineraries, accommodation tips, & fun adventure guides covering hikes, viewpoints, beaches, waterfalls, & tours. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

Your feedback & updates are crucial to keep my guides factual & current. Got new info or updates? Drop a comment below or contact me directly.

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