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.
Corinna is the Tasmanian Aboriginal name for the Pieman River. The town 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.
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.
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
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!!
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!
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.
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!