Corinna

Traversing Corinna
Corinna
Corinna © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Who wouldn’t want to stay the night in a ghost town? How about one on the edge of the takayna/Tarkine? What if you could then spend the day traversing ancient rivers, forests and mountains and the evening snuggled up next to a gas heater in a pioneer-style hut? Welcome to Corinna, an ex-mining town on the north bank of the Pieman River on Tasmania’s wild West Coast.

Tarkine Hotel
Tarkine Hotel © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Corinna was established during the gold rush of the late 1800s. Here, 2500 people lived and a 7.5kg gold nugget was discovered. This is still the largest gold nugget found in Tasmania. The town had a substantial two-storey pub, which was later dismantled and moved to the south side of the river before being moved to Zeehan and, unfortunately, burnt down. The area was also logged and the wood taken back to England for use as banisters, masts, and so on. Prior to this, the Tarkiner people (hence the name Tarkine) lived here. There are still giant middens on the coast: remnants of their lives and sacred sites.

Pademelon
Pademelon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

All of the huts at Corinna (some original and some recently constructed) bear the name of a person associated with the town’s history. We stayed in Louise Lovely, named after the lady who produced and starred in the film Jewelled Nights shot partially on Tasmania’s West Coast. The town now has no permanent residents, except for a Tasmanian Devil (in the car park) and a large number of friendly pademelons.

Short Walks
Short Walks © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There are plenty of things to do at Corinna. You could easily spend three full days here. I recommend planning your trip around a cruise on the Arcadia II (a longer cruise to the Pieman Heads, which you can read about here) and the Sweetwater (an hour-long cruise to the wreck of the Croydon and to Lovers Falls, which you can read about here). You could do this during a day if you can manage to book a spot on both cruises. Your other two days could be spent walking, or even kayaking. It is possible to walk from Corinna to the summit of Mount Donaldson (yes, we did that too!) or you can take a series of shorter walks around Corinna. Kayaks are available for hire from the Tarkine Hotel.

What to Bring

Kayaks at the Savage River
Kayaks at the Savage River © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is untreated rainwater available at Corinna. You will also find complimentary bottled water in your fridge. I wish that I had brought my 20L drum of water with me though as the rain water tastes quite thick (that’s my best description!), even after you’ve boiled it for the required three minutes to treat it. I also wish that I had brought some insect repellent and eucalyptus spray (my preferred insect spray) as we were kept awake by mosquitoes on the second night. Even writing this is making me feel itchy!!

Replica Huts
Replica Huts © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You should also bring food. The Tarkine Hotel serves lunch and dinner (not in winter) but you do pay middle-of-nowhere prices. They can cater for dietary requirements if you book in advance. There are a few (mainly tinned) food supplies available at the “General Store” part of the Tarkine Hotel. However, you will need to provide breakfast and snacks for yourself. I’d also recommend bringing some food for bushwalking. We cooked a meal – a pasta dish – on the four-burner cook-top in our hut and enjoyed staying in to a homely meal. There are ample pans and utensils provided.

Last of all, bring warmth and a good book. You’ll have no mobile reception, so snuggle up in your slippers and travel rug and read. There are some coffee-table books on the takayna/Tarkine and Tasmania supplied. When you’re outdoors, having good shoes, waterproof clothing and appropriate layers is a must. Remember sun protection in summer and don’t forget your camera. The wilderness is breathtaking!

Getting There

Fatman Barge
Fatman Barge © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You can reach Corinna from several directions. Drive south from the North-West tip of Tasmania, following the unsealed Western Explorer. Alternatively, travel north from Zeehan, crossing the Pieman River via the Fatman Barge ($25 per voyage). This is an excellent way to travel as the barge is cable-driven, the only one of its kind in Tasmanian. Take note of operating hours though: 9am – 5pm during non-daylight savings hours, with hours extended to 7pm during summer.  Lastly, you could drive south from Burnie, via Waratah. This is a sealed road until you reach Savage River. From here, it’s 21kms of unsealed roads until you reach Corinna. Make sure that you fill up with petrol before you make the journey as there is no fuel available in Corinna.

Cost

Accommodation
Accommodation © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Accommodation in one of the recently constructed pioneer-style huts costs $220 per couple per night night. There are bigger huts available and also cheaper options: groups can stay in the original pub and couples can stay in the original Roadman’s Cottage. If you’re really pinching pennies (and it’s not too cold or wet), you can even camp at Corinna. Whatever option you choose, make sure that you book in advance. I happily paid for the luxury of having all the mod cons (an ensuite, lighting, a four-burner gas cook top and a lovely log-style gas heater) in the middle of nowhere. Corinna runs on solar power and a satellite phone link so enjoy your time in blissful isolation!

You can read more about my time in Corinna here. You can also read about my adventures on Tasmania’s West Coast here or North West here.

Sweetwater

Traversing Sweetwater
Stairs
Stairs © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is a wooden staircase on the edge of the Pieman River, accessible only via a kayak or small boat. You’ll pass it on your journey on the Arcadia II and you’ll want to climb it. Well, you can do just that if you board the Sweetwater!

Sweetwater
Sweetwater © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

From the dock at Corinna, climb aboard the blue boat with cushioned seats. Sit at the back, near the outboard motor. It’s noisier there, but you won’t have as much spray to contend with. Your guide will give you a brief history of the river (which is now much lower than it used to be… as in, many metres lower). You’ll also learn about the local flora. Our guide backed the boat up to the leatherwood so that we could see and smell the flowers closeup. Unbelievably, I didn’t know before my journey to Corinna that Huon Pine trees have male and female varieties, with distinct appearances. According to our guide, the male is ugly and the female looks like a gorgeous Christmas tree!

Wreck of the SS Croydon
Wreck of the SS Croydon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Eventually, you’ll reach the Savage River. The Arcadia II cruise goes past this river but the extra treat of the Sweetwater is that you are in a boat that’s small enough to enter the river and glide over the wreck of the SS Croydon. We visited the site at high tide on a rainy afternoon so we couldn’t see much. However, what we could see was impressive: the twisted metal hull of a British steamer lying where it sank on 13th May 1919. The ship was supposed to take logs back to England but it never made it.

Lovers Falls
Lovers Falls © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

After viewing the wreck, you’ll travel downriver to the beautiful Lover’s Falls. This is the real highlight of the voyage: You get to walk off the back of the boat, up a set of stairs accessibly only by small watercraft, and walk on to view Lover’s Falls. The small falls that you can see from the Pieman River are nothing compared to the plunging falls that you see after a brief five minutes’ walk through the rainforest.

The walk to the falls is via duckboard covered in chicken-wire (so that you don’t slip). There are a few flights of stairs to climb but your guide is in no hurry so you can feel free to take your time. On the way, admire the large man-ferns and the towering myrtle. Once you’re at the top viewing platform, you’ll see the spectacular falls. Take note of the caves behind you.

What to bring

Cave
Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll need warm clothes, sensible shoes, a spray jacket (for if you have no choice but to sit at the front of the boat) and your camera. It’s a short journey, so even if you get a bit wet or cold, it won’t be long until you’re back in the warmth of your hut or the Tarkine Hotel.

Getting There

Rainforest
Rainforest © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Sweetwater cruises need to be booked in advance as they don’t occur every day. This is particularly true in winter. Once you’ve booked your cruise, follow my instructions for getting to Corinna from my post here. When you reach Corinna, head down to the docks (straight ahead, near the Tarkine Hotel) and hop onto the blue boat when prompted to by your friendly guide.

Cost

Myrtle
Myrtle © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

To book tickets, contact Corinna Wilderness Experience. There are only nine places available on the cruise so you’ll need to get in early during the peak tourist season. A cruise on the Sweetwater costs $30 per person. For such a unique experience in such a remote place, it is worth every dollar.

You can read more about my time in Corinna here. You can also read about my adventures on Tasmania’s West Coast here or North West here.

Mount Donaldson

Traversing Mt Donaldson
Ascending Mount Donaldson
Ascending Mount Donaldson © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

This is Hobbit country. Cross a brook through a mossy rainforest. Pass through tunnels formed by overhanging branches. Climb over and under fallen trees. Watch the leaves stir. Emerge from the forest to see towering white gums. From here, rise above the buttongrass, over streams, through squelching mud, up to the top of the mountain. Now, survey middle earth (with the help of a fallen theodolite, if you please!). You have arrived at the top of Mount Donaldson!

takayna/Tarkine
takayna/Tarkine © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

I thoroughly enjoyed climbing Mount Donaldson. It was the right mix of a unique environment, an adventurous trail and stunning scenery. I may have complained about my “uphill leg muscles” feeling sore at some stage, but the views were worth it. I say views, because each part of the walk was very beautiful. If your “uphill leg muscles” start complaining, have a rest and then soldier on because the view from the top is absolutely amazing! You can see the Pieman River winding through the trees, the takayna/Tarkine sprawling out below you (listen for a waterfall) and the waves pounding the rocks on the coast. You can also see a silica mine (still operational), the road into Corinna, and mountains to the north, east and south. It is breathtaking!

Emerging from the Clouds
Emerging from the Clouds © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Be warned: weather on the West Coast of Tasmania is unpredictable. You can experience pouring rain, a hail storm, roaring winds and beautiful sunshine all within half an hour! (We experienced all of this on our cruise on the Arcadia II, which you can read about here). The walk is quite slippery as you near the summit because you are essentially following the path of a few streams. If you have limited mobility or there has been (or will be) a lot of rainfall, I recommend reconsidering doing the walk. Cloud cover can also limit visibility. That said, it was a misty morning when we set out but the sun was shining and the sky was clear by the time we reached the summit. For good measure, it rained as we neared the forest on the way back down! Four seasons in one day.

What to Bring

Pieman River
Pieman River © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

It goes without saying that you’ll need waterproof clothes. I found that one layer of merino thermals topped by my raincoat and waterproof pants was all that I needed when I was moving. When you reach the summit, you’ll also want to have your scarf, beanie and gloves on hand. Wear good hiking shoes. We always carry a first aid kit, about a litre of water per person and a good dose of snacks (fruit, nuts, etc.). In summer, don’t forget your hat and sunscreen. You will definitely need your camera; the views are spectacular!

Theodolite
Theodolite © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Your phone won’t have reception on or near Mount Donaldson. If you are worried about not being able to call emergency services, you can hire personal locator beacons and satellite phones from various places in Tasmania before you head to the West Coast. Whatever the case, make sure that you register your walk with the staff at the Tarkine Hotel (Corinna) first.

View of the coast
View of the coast © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Getting There

Towering Gum Trees
Towering Gum Trees© emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You can access the walking track to Mount Donaldson either by foot from Corinna (ask for a brochure from the helpful staff at the Tarkine Hotel) or by car. If you’re driving, drive about three kilometres down the Western Explorer (from the Corinna/Savage River end). Take care when driving on the Western Explorer. It is unsealed, rocky and has unexpected turns. When you have crossed a bridge, you’ll see the walking track to the left and a small, circular space where you can park to the right. For information on how to reach Corinna, read my post here.

Cost

Rainforest
Rainforest © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The walk up to the summit of Mount Donaldson is free of charge. Remember to take your rubbish out with you and keep to the paths. The grey mud is firm enough to step on; avoid the black mud though! It’s very slippery!! It takes about three hours to complete the Mount Donaldson walk if you are fit and don’t have too many stops. If the ground is a bit slippery, plan to take about four hours. Enjoy your time in Hobbit country! We even hummed the “Lord of the Rings” tune as we descended… you’ll see why when you do the walk for yourself!

You can read more about my time in Corinna here. You can also read about my adventures on Tasmania’s West Coast here or North West here.

Arcadia II

Arcadia II
Arcadia II © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Lovers Falls
Lovers Falls © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Pieman Heads
Pieman Heads © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Wild Waves
Wild Waves © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Go Fetch!
Go Fetch! © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

What to Bring

Arcadia II
View from Downstairs – Arcadia II © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Getting There

Corinna
Corinna © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Cost

Pieman River
Pieman River © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

You can read more about my time in Corinna here. You can also read about my adventures on Tasmania’s West Coast here or North West here.