“Everything’s so… wet.”
Sleep deprived, and already more relaxed than I’ve been in at least a couple of months, this is the best description my brain can manage.
Christine, one of the friendly managers of Corinna Wilderness Experience, told me earlier that there’d been a bushfire across the river just last week. Now, looking around me at the waterlogged and muddy forest floor, the tree-fern branches lined with water droplets, and the patchwork of different coloured mosses covering almost everything, it’s pretty hard to imagine.
Hiking at Corinna
The hiking options from Corinna are many. I’d advise checking out the Corinna Activities Map for a more comprehensive list including hikes of all lengths and difficulty levels. Even better, have a chat to Christine when you arrive at Corinna. I’ve listed details here of the three short hikes that we did with the kids.
Whyte River Walk
Length: 4 km (circuit)
Time: 1 – 2 hrs
Trailhead Location: This trail can be walked in both directions, with trailheads at the east side of the Corinna campground and at the wilderness retreats. They are clearly signed.
Old Telegraph Hill
Length: 1.5 km (return)
Time: 20 mins
Trailhead Location: The signed boardwalk is directly across the road from the Tarkine Hotel. Also leads to the burrowing crayfish viewing platform.
Huon Pine Walk
Length: 600 m (return)
Time: 20 mins
Trailhead Location: The boardwalk begins from the car park, to the west of the “Fatman Barge”.
Further Information: This walk takes in an interesting tract of riverside vegetation, which obviously includes the ancient Huon pine. It’s accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, and those with limited mobility.
We’re only 5 minutes into the Whyte River Walk, which departs Corinna a few doors down from our wilderness retreat. It already feels like we’ve stepped back in time to Jurassic era Gondwanaland.
A little further on, the low drone of a generator at Corinna fades away completely, and there’s silence. Never complete silence, but the kind of silence that’s only broken by the occasional buzzing insect, the song of a fairy wren or flame robin, or the excited chatter of two little nature-loving kids. It’s blissful.
Rambling slowly, we climb natural staircases of exposed mossy tree-roots, cross boardwalks, and hop across a creek on slippery rocks.
Though the walk is listed as a one hour circuit, we’ve already been walking for over an hour when we reach Whyte River. The kids are more than happy to take their time exploring this magnificent place and so are we, especially since there hasn’t been a single complaint from either of them the entire time.
We sit down for a snack on one of the platypus viewing platforms perched on the riverbank, just off the trail. Unfortunately though, after a long day and night of rain, the Whyte River is roaring. It seems unlikely we’ll see a platypus, so we don’t hang around for long.
The rest of the walk follows the Whyte and Pieman Rivers back to Corinna and, though the circuit takes us 2 hours in total, this part seems to fly by. The kids have been so good that we’ve promised them a bowl of chips at the pub when we get back, so I can probably already taste my amber reward.
Sitting on the veranda of the pub, we reflect on the walk. Both kids tell us that their favourite part of the trail was “everything” and their least favourite part was “nothing!”
Considering the complete and total bushwalking fails we’ve experienced in the recent past, we’re proud and happy.
The fairy princess was a happy little hiker, but still had to be holding someone’s hand at all times
From our wilderness retreat’s back veranda, the tangled wall of ferns and vines that mark the rainforest edge stand only a metre away. We’ve been sitting, admiring the scene for a few minutes when two fluffy, fat pademelons emerge and hop up to the veranda’s edge.
“I think they want to be my friend, Neil.”
The fairy princess instantly falls in love with anything furry and cute. The pademelons are certainly no exception.
“Their names are Pinkpurple and Rainbow”, she says.
We all share a chuckle at her choice of names, but after a minute or so I notice with surprise that there’s complete silence. Both the kidlets are sitting cross-legged on the timber decking, their eyes wide with amazement at these adorable creatures. For minutes, they savour their close encounter without a word, taking in their every movement.
It’s official. All four of us have already fallen in love with Corinna, and we’ve only been here for a few hours.
Our wilderness retreat has the look of a rustic 1880s miner’s cottage on the outside, but inside is beautifully restored with a modern bathroom and kitchen facilities. We’re all excited to see we’ll be sleeping on a mezzanine loft under sloped ceilings. Everything about the place is charming, right down to the tree-branch door handles.
We could easily spend our days at Corinna relaxing in this beautiful accommodation, but there’s so much else to do here.
During our three days we do a few hikes, take gigabytes of photos, stroll around the town learning about its history as a gold mining settlement, and have a bowl of chips and a beer on the pub’s veranda as we watch the “Fatman Barge” slowly move cars across the Pieman River.
On one unfortunately wet and windy day we even take a cruise 20 kilometres downstream to Pieman Heads on the Arcadia II, an impressive 74 year old boat crafted from Huon Pine and Tasmanian Hardwood. It turns out to be the perfect way to wait out the weather and still get our nature fix for the day, just from a different angle.
What we don’t get to do – and what I’d happily go back to spend another couple of weeks doing – is have a proper meal at the pub’s Tannin Restaurant, spot a platypus, do some fishing, go kayaking, or have a better crack at getting through the multitude of hikes of varying lengths and difficulties. Better yet, Corinna offers the chance to kayak your way to a hiking trail that will lead you back to town on foot (staff will pick up your kayak for you later).
This luxurious, yet eco-friendly accommodation is the only place to stay within the Tarkine Wilderness. You might imagine somewhere with such unique status being a bit snobby, but the staff at Corinna are nothing but friendly and accommodating.
We feel at home here.
“A great many trees stand here.
Did we then put them there, that they are ours to take away? Did we plant, tend,
or care for them, that they might be ours to uproot? By what right then, do we
take that which is not ours; were they given to us, that we might do with them as
– Tarkine, a book by the WWF Australia (edited by Ralph Ashton)
Directly across the road from the Tarkine Hotel, a boardwalk leads us to a waterlogged creek bed that burrowing crayfish have left looking like a tiny city, their burrow openings resembling miniature mud skyscrapers.
We decide to continue on into the rainforest on the Old Telegraph Hill walk, where the boardwalk quickly becomes an unclear and muddy bush trail, with only pink ribbons and arrows on trees to show us the way.
We scramble over fallen trees and duck under vines sheathed with lichen. Losing the path on several occasions, we end up exploring sections of forest darkened by the canopy of giant tree ferns, leatherwood, and myrtle beech, where it’s possible nobody else has stood for years.
I’ve never been somewhere that feels so wild.
Covering around 4,500 square kilometres, the Tarkine is one of the largest tracts of temperate rainforest on earth, and the largest in the southern hemisphere. It has remained mostly untouched for over 65 million years.
The history of this place goes back much further than 1879, when gold was first discovered at Corinna. The most fascinating history lies inside the ancient trees surrounding us, within the decaying layers of moss, soil, and leaf-litter that we’re walking on, and in the hearts of the indigenous community who continue to have a strong link with the area (it was the indigenous Tarkiner people who inspired its name).
It hits me how lucky I am to have the opportunity to bring the kids here and share this place with them. I try to explain to them that only 1 in 10,000 Australians have ever been here, and that it’s unlikely to still be like this when they get to my age. The looks on their little faces tell me that they kind of get it, at least on some level. Either way, they’re having one hell of a good time.
If you’re keen on seeing more of our little family holiday to Tasmania, check out part 1 of Tasmania with Kids, and also this wee video I put together… The fairy princess does her best TV host impression. Cuteness abounds.
During our trip to Tasmania, we were guests of the Spirit of Tasmania, Corinna Wilderness Experience, and Edgewater Devenport. As is always the case, this has no influence over the opinions I present on Bushwalking Blog.
Need to Know
Corinna has no mobile reception and the only phone is at the pub. The accommodation does not come with free wifi, or an internet connection of any kind for that matter. This is a place to disconnect. Embrace it. Trust me… It will be extremely good for you.
I’d strongly advise bringing a GPS that doesn’t rely on mobile data reception to show maps (ie. not a tablet or smartphone). Navigation would have been far more stressful for us without our car’s GPS, and that’s not when you need when there’s already kids in the car.
There are a handful of campsites at Corinna, and the pub has guesthouse-style group accommodation. The most attractive option is the wilderness retreats. They are quite affordable and, considering the wild weather that Tassie is so well known for, I think they’re worthwhile. Check out Corinna’s website for details on pricing and the like.
The wilderness retreat kitchens are equipped with a stove-top, so if self-catering don’t bring anything that requires an oven. The other option is to eat at the Tannin Restaurant, which appeared to have some quite interesting dishes on offer. It’s a very short walk from both the wilderness retreats and campground.
Have you checked out Tasmania with kidlets? Been to the Tarkine? Got any tips or tales to tell? Please let us know by commenting below.