The Arcadia II is a beautiful ship. Made from Huon pine with celery top pine decks, she has all the trimmings, including brass fittings and re-purposed seats from Hobart trams. It was a delight just to stand on her, let alone find ourselves motoring up the remote Pieman River, the southern boundary of the takayna/Tarkine.
On your journey upriver, you’ll get to see the sights. You’ll pass the mouths of the Savage and Donaldson Rivers. You’ll see the sedimentary rocks high upon the hills and hear how these were of particular interest to National Geographic. By the end of your journey, you’ll also be able to identify the multitude of species of flora lining the riverbanks. You’ll also pass a waterfall and a set of stairs (which you can climb via a journey on the Sweetwater; read about it here). You’ll see the tip of Mount Donaldson (we climbed it; you can read about that here). It’s a beautiful river journey.
When we disembarked at Pieman Heads, I was thrilled to explore a new place. Except, then I walked off the duckboards and into the area where the shacks are and I realised that I’d been there before. That’s growing up in Tasmania for you! As a child, you go along for the ride and don’t really comprehend just where you are. I had joined a friend’s family for a 4WD trip when I was much younger; it was sensational, to see the rugged West Coast in all her beauty, and we concluded our journey at Pieman Heads. Despite my happy memories, I think that I appreciated Pieman Heads more as an adult.
I appreciated the logs strewn across the sand, knowing the force it must have taken to push them there. I appreciated the hail storm, brief but fierce, leaving dents in the sand. I appreciated the sand whipping across the beach like a mist. I appreciated the sound of the waves, roaring at the mouth of the Heads, as I imaged ships of times gone by trying to navigate through the mountainous waves under sail or steam. It’s a wonder that they ever managed to sail through the Heads as they are only navigable for a few days each year. It is a truly wild place.
What to Bring
Food is provided but it’s a good idea to bring a bottle of water. You can shelter inside the wheelhouse with the captain, in the inside passenger areas or under the awning on the deck. It is cold on the water at any time of year so wear layers. For maximum comfort, remember to bring sun protection in summer and rain protection if wet weather is forecast. On the return journey, we sat on the bow with our legs dangling over the side. In our waterproof clothes, we enjoyed the spectacular scenery through the intermittent showers.
To get to the Arcadia II’s dock, follow my directions to Corinna from my post about the town here. Once you’ve reached Corinna, stop at the Tarkine Hotel to pick up your tickets. The dock is straight ahead, next to the Fatman Barge. You can park in the car park to the right while you enjoy your cruise.
A spot on the Arcadia II costs $90. To book tickets, contact Corinna Wilderness Experience (booking in advance is a must). The cruise departs at 10am and you’ll arrive at the Heads before noon, then leave just after 1pm. The journey concludes back at Corinna by 2:30pm. Your ticket includes includes hot cuppas (which you will need!), cake, fruit and a lunch pack that you can eat at Pieman Heads. Best of all, you have the privilege of experiencing a journey aboard the oldest commercially operating Huon pine vessel and see an incredibly remote and beautiful part of Tasmania.