The Tarkine, covering nearly a million acres in northwest Tasmania, was named after the Tarkiner band of Aboriginal people who once roved here. It’s Tasmania’s largest unprotected wilderness area – stretching from the wild west coast to Murchison Highway in the east and from the Arthur River in the north to the Pieman River in the south – though conservationists have been pushing for a Tarkine National Park since the 1960s and the area was recommended for UNESCO’s World Heritage list in the 1990s. Of its 593,000 acres of forest, seventy percent constitutes Australia’s largest tract of temperate rainforest, second only in global significance to tracts in British Columbia. This “forgotten wilderness” of giant myrtle forests, wild rivers and bare granite mountains is the sort of place where the Tasmanian tiger, long thought extinct, might still be roaming. Dubbed by conservationists as “The Road to Nowhere”, the Western Explorer road through the Tarkine, from Arthur River all the way south to Zeehan, was constructed hastily and finished in 1996. A year before, an incredibly vast and ancient Huon pine was found in the area, as big as a city block and thought to date from around 8000 BC. With awareness of the area growing, the moratorium on logging of ancient native forest in 2011 could not have been more timely. The push for a national park seems unstoppable.
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