The Tarkine is very well suited to the self-drive visitor who is keen to camp, or stay at nearby accommodation along the North-West coast. There are several great touring loops and roads in and around the Tarkine that provide great access points to different parts of the Tarkine. We recommend you purchase a 1:250,000 scale map of North-West Tasmania which allow you to orientate yourself to the main roads and access points to the region.
There are several key towns that provide access points to different parts of the Tarkine. Coming from the north, at Burnie you can choose to head west to visit some of the northern forests, rivers, heathland or the Tarkine’s spectacular coastal region, or you can choose to head south (via Somerset) through the Hellyer gorge, to then visit the southern rainforests, river systems and more mountainous country in the Tarkine.
Coming from the south of the Tarkine, i.e. the West coast (Queenstown / Strahan), you can choose to enter the Tarkine via Zeehan or Tullah, whilst Waratah offers a great gateway to the Tarkine if you have travelled south from Burnie, north from Tullah, or west from Cradle Mountain.
Marrawah, Arthur River and the Tarkine Coast
Marrawah and Arthur River are key gateways to the Tarkine’s awe-inspiring coastal region, where there are opportunities for surfing, walking, fishing, kayaking, wildlife appreciation and river cruises. There is some accommodation available at Arthur river and Marrawah, with some supplies available from the Marrawah store, a Parks office at Arthur River, and camping available as well.
Kannunah Bridge and the South Arthur Forest Drive
If you drive south from Smithton and through Edith creek, you can then gain access to the South Arthur Forest drive, where a number of great short rainforest walks are available, with a well kept camping space at the Julius River forest reserve. Tayatea or Kannunah bridges are often used as put in points for rafting. Paid accommodation can be found in the form of some nearby farm-stay style accommodation, or closer to the coast at Smithton or Circular Head.
Dip Falls, Big Tree, Meunna & Arthur River
Along the Bass Highway between Wynyard and Circular head two turnoffs provide access to wonderful parts of the Tarkine.
1) Turn south at Sisters creek towards Meunna, which takes you along the eastern edge of the Dip Range, towards Meunna where the Tarkine Lodge is soon to open, with associated rainforest walks, or on, via rough 4wd tracks to the Arthur river, where the now collapsed Farquhar’s and Hilder’s bridge crossings provide another couple of great rafting or kayaking put in points.
2) Turn south near Black River towards and then beyond Mawbanna to the remarkable Dip Falls and Big Tree. Accommodation is available at places such as Burnie, Somerset, Wynyard and Boat Harbour.
Somerset to Waratah
The Murchison Highway from Somerset to Waratah skirts the eastern fringe of the Tarkine and takes you through the spectacular Hellyer Gorge, with some beautiful short walks and a campsite available at the Gorge. The Hellyer river is another well loved rafting and kayaking river.
Waratah to Corinna
The road between Waratah and Corinna, which takes you through vistas of the Tarkine’s rainforests, mountains and heath country – is one of the most spectacular drives in Tasmania. Waratah itself is packed with fascinating mining and pioneering heritage, and also offers accommodation, whilst the road offers great natural attractions along the way, such as Philosopher’s Falls and Mt Donaldson. Corinna is a stunningly beautiful historical village by the Pieman river that offers accommodation, dining, walks and river cruises.
Zeehan, Rosebery, Tullah – southern access points to the Tarkine
Zeehan and Rosebery, two historic mining towns, and Tullah, an old hydro village – each have fascinating heritage values, and offer some accommodation as well. At Rosebery and Tullah you are within short distance of some great mountain and rainforest walks, whilst Tullah also offers lake kayaking and other recreational activities. Zeehan is a gateway point to the West coast via Granville Harbour or Trial Harbour, or a southern access to Corinna. The Pieman Road that runs from Tullah to Corinna is another spectacular drive with varying vistas of rainforest, mountain and heathland, with some beaut picnic spots along the way.
The ‘Western Explorer’
The infamous road to nowhere is a poor quality dirt road that runs between Balfour and Corinna. It was bulldozed through hastily amongst huge controversy, protests and arrests in the mid-1990s. There are some great short walks along its route, at Mt Balfour, the Longback and Mt Donaldson, and the road is now used as a way to jump from the north to the southern part of the Tarkine. In 2008 afire caused a 4 month closure of the road, when illegal off-road use led to a fire which burnt 18,000 hectares including hundreds of hectares of rainforest. This unfortunate and avoidable event underscores how fragile the Tarkine is, and how important it is that we have good protection in place for the Tarkine and have a well-funded Parks & Wildlife service to look after the Tarkine and manage and provide direction for visitors.