TARKINE DRIVE TASMANIA

The Tarkine is large area of temperate rainforest and rugged untamed coastline on the north-west coast of Tasmania. The Tarkine is home to an abundance of plant, animal and bird life as well as the Arthur and Pieman Rivers.

The Tarkine Drive is a self guided tour of the Tarkine and the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area. Each of the sights are numbered and are well signposted along the way. We completed the Tarkine Drive over two days with our dog Chika. The drive could be completed in a day if you are pushed for time. We found most sights on the drive were dog friendly.

Map of the Tarkine Drive Tasmania
Route Tarkine Drive

Day One:

The day took us about 5 hours to do from Julius River return with the stops listed below. Of the 5 hours, 3 hours were spent walking and exploring, 30 mins for lunch and the rest of the time was driving so it didn’t feel like we were in the car too much. Be mindful the roads in the areas we covered on Day 1 are windy, some parts are steep, there are sections with portholes and the road to the Trowutta Arch is gravel. It pays to take it easy and the scenery is worth taking in.

Kanunnah Bridge #11 

Drove over but didn’t stop.

Sumac Lookout Tarkine Drive Tasmania
Sumac Lookout, Tarkine Drive Tasmania

Sumac Lookout #12

This is another brief stop with it taking less than one min to walk to the lookout. The lookout gives views of the Arthur River down in the valley.

Dogs: No signage to say dogs are not permitted

Julius River Tarkine Drive Tasmania
Julius River, Tarkine Drive Tasmania

Julius River #13

There are two walks here both which are easy and worth doing. The Julius River Rainforest walk is less than 30 mins return and the Sink Hole walk took us 45 mins at a very easy pace. Camping is permitted here with plenty of room for tents but very limited space for campers, caravans or motor homes. There is a RV campground 600m up the road. There are also free BBQs, tables and chairs and toilets at this stop.

Dogs: No signage to say dogs are not permitted

Julius RV Motorhome and Caravan Campground #14

We left Josephine (our caravan) at this campground and continued on for the rest of the day. At the end of the day we returned and stayed at the campground for the night. We were fortunate to see a Spotted Quoll, sadly we didn’t get any photos but we have some awesome memories of the brief encounter.

Dogs: No signage to say dogs are not permitted and Wiki Camps lists it as dog friendly. Due to the wildlife noted in the area we had Chika sleep in the car for the night.

Lake Chisholm Tarkine Drive Tasmania
Lake Chisholm, Tarkine Drive Tasmania

Lake Chisholm #15

Lake Chisholm takes less than 30 min return to walk. Lake Chisholm is a large lake formed from a sink hole. The lake and forest surrounding it is very peaceful. Kayaking is encouraged for those interested. It was difficult to find anywhere to get in easily for a swim as the edges have lots of branches and debris and bottom is very muddy but for those that are keen it is not impossible.

Dogs: No signage to say dogs are not permitted

Wes Beckett Falls #17

Closed.

Rapid River Tarkine Drive Tasmania
Rapid River, Tarkine Drive Tasmania

Rapid River #17

This stop along the Rapid River is by a bridge and it is a brief walk to the waters edge. There are rocks to venture over the along the river’s edge and we saw a bright yellow caterpillar.

Dogs: No signage to say dogs are not permitted

Sink Hole Tarkine Drive Tasmania
Sink Hole, Tarkine Drive Tasmania

Sink Hole #18

This is a brief stop right on the side of the road. It is possible to walk along the front of the sink hole and feel yourself sink in the mossy ground which is kind of amusing.

Dogs: No signage to say dogs are not permitted

Milkshake Hills #19

Closed.

Tayatea Bridge #20

Drove over but didn’t stop.

Arch Tarkine Drive Tasmania
Trowutta Arch, Tarkine Drive Tasmania

Trowutta Arch #22

Trowutta Arch is a naturally formed rock archway. There are also caves, sink holes and waterholes. This was our favourite stop along the Tarkine Drive. To reach the arch it is definitely worth the easy 30 minute return walk. There is a waterhole at the arch and a second waterhole can be reached with a little effort if you go up and around to the right. If you are adventurous it is possible to climb the rock walls of the arch and around it. The surrounding forest is lovely to walk through as well.

Dogs: The arch is in a national park so no dogs (or pets). This is clearly signposted. Chika remained in the car and slept.

Day Two

Balfour Track Tarkine Drive Tasmania
Balfour Track, Tarkine Drive Tasmania

Balfour Track #10

The Balfour Track is a three hour return walk. We did about an hour. What is quickly apparent about this track in that you really are down in amongst the tall trees, fallen logs, tree ferns and mosses. It is fairy tale like – enchanting and beautiful. We very much enjoyed the section of this track that we walked.

After Balfour Track we followed the Tarkine Drive map out of the forest and onto the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area on the west coast. The west coast – she is a rugged untamed area of coast line with wild seas, coastal rocks and beautiful beaches. The area is managed by National Parks Wildlife Services (NPSW) and there is no free camping.

The area is also well used by 4WD vehicles, motorbikes and ATVs with numerous tracks and beaches with access for these vehicles. Permit is required costing $30 for a month or $50 for a year.

Couta Rocks #8

Couta Rocks is a small village that reminded us of isolated Inuit settlements we have seen in documentaries. We have heard many great reviews of this area however the weather was so poor when we got there we were forced to get back into our car.

Dogs: No signage to say dogs are not permitted. In all honesty due to the weather we weren’t there long enough to notice any signs.

The Edge of the World Tarkine Drive Tasmania
The Edge of the World, Tarkine Drive Tasmania

The Edge of the World #5

The Edge of the World or Gairdner Point as it is also called, is at the end of a short drive along a gravel road. It is known as The Edge of the World because between it and all the way to Argentina is the longest expanse of uninterrupted ocean in the world. It is also where the Arthur River meets the sea and coming together the two can be easily seen in a fascinating display.

There are toilets here for those needing them.

Dogs: No signage to say dogs are not permitted

Bluff Point Tarkine Drive Tasmania
Bluff Point, Tarkine Drive Tasmania

Bluff Point #3

This another short drive along another gravel road to the coast line. Here is an unmanned lighthouse and a few trails down to the beach to wander if you so chose.

Dogs: No signage to say dogs are not permitted

Marrawah #1

Marrawah is a village just outside the upper region of the Pieman-Arthur Conservation Area. It is has a general store where fuel is also available. It is important to note that availability of fuel on the west coast is limited so be mindful of this when planning your trip. Marrawah also has a pub “the best in the west.”

Dogs: It is a village. Walking your dog on a leash is recommended.

Nelson Bay Tarkine Drive Tasmania
Nelson Bay, Tarkine Drive Tasmania

Nelson Bay

We camped at Nelson Bay for two nights for $6 per night. It is an isolated coastal spot in the Pieman-Arthur Conservation Area. It is very much exposed to the strong coastal winds unless you can get in close to a grass covered dune between the bay and the camping area. I really enjoyed watching the wild seas and waves crashing on the rocks. There are no facilities at all. Dog are allowed on a leash or tethered.

There were a few stops of the Tarkine Drive we didn’t do due to poor weather and probably some exhaustion as well. Tarkine Drive is a great way to see the north west Tasmania wilderness and untamed coastline. If you are lucky you may see a Spotted Quoll or a Tasmanian Devil.

Originally written and published: 3 January 2018
Edited and republished: 11 December 2019

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