The “Tarkine” refers to the remote north-western corner of Tasmania. The drive from Strahan to Arthur River goes through the heart of the Tarkine and is part of the signposted route called the Tarkine Drive. You will only pass through a few very small settlements and Zeehan, an old mining town, well past its heyday.
This area is the wild Wild West. Remote, largely unpopulated and full of nature. The road is winding, hilly and narrow. Some long sections of white gravel will slow you down but that’s good because then you can see the little critters that run out before you actually hit them. The tee trees come right down to the road and I am sure there are rolling hills but the dense forest blocks your view.
Corinna, a very small town 50 kilometres from Zeehan, is a little hub of activity. Corinna was also a mining town and was first inhabited by white settlers in 1881. The road to Corrina from Zeehan is mostly sealed except for a short section. To cross the Pieman River you will need to summon the Fatman Barge. Press the button once to call down the operator. It will take a few minutes and then you’ll see the him pull up in his ute on the other side. I guess he was probably having a cup of tea and getting his boots back on before you pressed that buzzer! The Operator, a friendly chap, says he does about 40 – 50 crossings a day. It’s strictly one car at a time with a load limit of 6.5 tons. The barge’s deck can accommodate a car with caravan/trailer if you’re pulling one. The price varies depending on how big your vehicle is. I paid $28 for my Subaru Forester.
The crossing itself is short and soothing. The chugging of the engine drowning out the chirps of the tiny birds. The drizzling rain adds to the ambiance. On the other bank the Tarkine Hotel is a welcome spot to stop for lunch or coffee. Well, it’s the ONLY spot to stop for lunch and coffee unless you’ve brought your own! Lunch does not start till 12 so if you arrive before then, opt for coffee and muffins. I had to wait a while for the homemade Butter Chicken pie. Firstly 20 minutes for the kitchen to open and another 20 while the pie warmed up. In the meantime I chatted with the young fellow behind the bar and had a coffee. The pub has some cabin accommodation which looks cozy and rustic. A few of the original town buildings are still standing and being used as staff housing. There is no internet in Corinna. The computer and EFTPOS at the pub runs off a satellite connection. So if you’re looking for an off-grid holiday this could be it.
Apart from going to the pub, you can hire kayaks, take a river cruise or set off on a hike to explore the local area. There are lots of day walks of varying lengths including one with a suggested time of 8 hours!
Once you leave Corrina, it’s dirt all the way to Arthur River except for a few sections on steep hills. The terrain through here is much more open. The road can be used by two-wheel drive vehicles, but be prepared for a bumpy ride! There are plenty of corrugations and potholes.
I really enjoy this sort of technical driving with horseshoe bends, tight corners and twisty hills. I passed less than a dozen cars the whole 200 km. The misty weather added lots of appeal to the drive and I took some good photographs.
This drive has lots to offer. Make sure you have a spare tyre and drop in at the pub.