Dining out at Corinna

Freshly showered and re-energised we wandered a couple of hundred metres down to the Tarkine Hotel for dinner. We were warmly welcomed into the large rustic chic Tannin Restaurant that sits to one side of the bar. The photo below comes from the Corinna Wilderness Resort’s website and gives you a good idea of the scale of the place.

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Our hospitality staff members were backpackers from South America who chose to live in Corinna for the summer months when the majority of tourists visit the Pieman River. Excellent service started when they directed us to a table beside the windows. From here we could overlook the parking lot to see the sun sparkling on the vehicle ferry, the Pieman River and the ever present grand landscape.

The menu offered a range of tantalising options with the emphasis on fresh Tasmanian produce. The photo on the website here shows an example of a dish.  The Best Restaurants of Australia website says “Tannin offers a Modern Australian menu that features local Tasmanian produce such as ocean trout from Strahan, eggs and pepper berries from Waratah, and red meat from the Derwent Valley.

My friend ordered a steak; this was cooked to perfection and arrived with an array of vegetables.  I chose a lean lamb dish which was cooked until the inside was appropriately pink.  Both dishes melted in the mouth.  Our food looked classy, made for delightful eating and was a hearty reward for our day’s efforts. The quantity of food was more than adequate.  We would have no hesitation to enjoy food there again; heavens we might even go out of our way (and Corinna is a long way out of anywhere) to eat there again.

After finishing drinking a couple of wines, we strolled back to our cottage passing various historical buildings and interpretative panels.  Quickly I was into an exceptionally comfortable bed with a good book that took me to the end of a very satisfying day.

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Our ‘home’ at Corinna

We were elated with the high quality of our accommodation.  After the extreme smells at Tullah, and the ugly house in Waratah, our cottage named ‘Hobbs’ (named after James Hobb who landed at the Pieman River in 1824) was stylish, spacious, clean, comparatively new, private, and equipped with all things modern including a wood fired heater. We knew in advance there would be no television. Corinna is located in a remote area and signals cannot reach it.  For the same reason we had no mobile or internet reception.  But none of that mattered.  We came for the environment, immersed ourselves in the landscape thoroughly and extensively, ate out one night and cooked our own meal on the second night, then collapsed wearily into bed with a good book.  The perfect holiday.

The photo of our cottage below suggests it is tired and old because rusting corrugated iron had been used for the roof and the wooden exterior was greying with age.  However, it neither tired or old.  Rather it has been constructed to appear like an old mining cottage, but it is sturdy and strong and withstands the variable conditions which the local climate throw at it.

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Our ‘Hobbs’ was one of many cottages built on their own ‘block’ of land so guests had their private space. We could park our car out front and easily carry our goods across the ample front verandah then inside.  The ground floor level housed the kitchen, dining room and sitting lounge area, and the bathroom. Through the double doors in the photo below was a back deck with beautiful myrtle trees edging us as our bushy neighbour.  Upstairs were two bedrooms; a master and another with two single beds.  Spacious, light, bright, smart, civilised.

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The shower was hot and refreshing. The quietness of the cottage and its surroundings was relaxing.  We felt comfortably at home.

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The Tarkine Hotel’s ‘General Store’ at Corinna

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At the ‘General Store’ end of the Tarkine Hotel: ‘Hi. We are booked into the Corinna Wilderness Resort but we can’t find it’.  ‘What is your name? We’ll have your booking here.’

Jeanette and I were excited about our walk up Mt Donaldson and inclined to share. When Jeanette mentioned her ‘Cooee’ performance at the top, the receptionist remarked,  ‘I heard you’. ‘What? How?’ ‘Yes I did,’ she nodded. ‘Of course, I didn’t know who made the sound or even where it came from. I had driven up Norfolk Road/Western Explorer Road until I could get internet and mobile reception.  While I stood beside my car, I heard a ‘Cooee’ across the landscape.’  My eyes widened in amazement and Jeanette gasped.  How surprising.

Back to the business of getting accommodation. We learned that our cottage was up the road and inland behind the Hotel; we grabbed the keys and made ready to leave.  ‘But before you go … we have been trying to reach you yesterday and today.’ ‘You have. Why?’ ‘We left messages on your mobile.’ ‘We didn’t get your messages.’  ‘We left voice and text messages.’ ‘But we have been out of mobile reception in this area so there was no way we could get the messages’. ‘Well we wanted to let you know that the Arcadia is not running tomorrow because we can’t get a pilot – so you will not be travelling on the river as expected’.  Our faces dropped. The heat of annoyance rose. We had booked a boat trip for the next day on the Arcadia, to take us down the Pieman River to the sea. ‘We have booked you on the trip the following day.’ ‘But that’s no good. We will have left here that day’. Our response was unanimous and unrestrained. Then ensued discussions about other possible boat options which might be arranged for us. Resignedly and somewhat despondently we accepted little probably could be done.

We bought ourselves a refreshing drink from the bar and walked outside to sit on the expansive verandah and watch the world go by. Comfortable. Very comfortable. My sparkling pear cider and Jeanette’s gin and tonic began to work their wonders.  It was exceptionally pleasant sitting there in the warm air watching people arriving and leaving and others moving their cars on and off the Fatman.  This ferry took vehicles and their passengers across to the other side of the Pieman River to connect with the road that leads south to the town of Zeehan and beyond.

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20170307_093124.jpg We sat and mulled over our situation feeling quite bereft because our trip to the sea along the Pieman River seemed out of reach. Taking the trip on the day when we needed to return to Hobart didn’t seem possible. The drive from Corinna back to Hobart was expected to take at least 6 hours. Our plan had been to make a very short walk in the early morning on our last day and then head off mid-morning towards home. Jeanette needed to be back at work the day after our return and so it didn’t seem fair that we would take the Arcadia boat trip for 4 or so hours during the middle of the day, arrive back at Corinna mid-afternoon and then have the long drive starting over winding narrow roads before hitting the highways to get home. Nevertheless, was this a possibility? I put the question. ‘You are the driver. How would you feel about taking the Arcadia trip on our last day and then be faced with making the long drive home safely? We wouldn’t get home until after dark and mid-evening at the earliest. What is your reaction?  Would it be too much?’  We discussed the idea from every angle. ‘Yes I can do it. Will do it. Want to do it.’ Jeanette was sure. It could be done. I went back inside the Hotel, talked to the booking organiser and made sure we were listed to join the boat trip on our final day.  Yes. Yes. Yes.  I was so thankful for Jeanette feeling confident she could manage all.  We were both pleased that our booking was now locked in.

It was now time to find and move into our accommodation cottage.

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Arriving in Corinna on the Pieman River

The walk down Mt Donaldson was fast and easy as the track widened and flattened. We were exhilarated as we returned to the car with its dusty messages. These made us laugh and furthered our buoyant mood.

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Of course, my feet didn’t want to take another step so, it was with relief I collapsed onto my seat and mentally prepared for our next discoveries, all the while knowing my feet were unlikely to carry me much further.

Regardless, the day wasn’t over; the tiny settlement of Corinna was our next stop and our destination for the next two nights. There would be more to see, experience and more to learn.

Back on the gravel road, heading south then west, we marvelled at our successes and experiences. Jeanette as high as a kite on reaching the summit, and I pleased as punch that I had risen up the mountain as far as I did.  Of course the amazing bush and forested country fuelled our excitement and pleasure.

Online research indicated the restaurant we had booked into that night was located about one kilometre before reaching Corinna, so we were alert expecting to see it on the way. However the road was enclosed by wall to wall trees until we reached the settlement – curious. It shouldn’t have surprised us because, as we found constantly, so much online material about this part of Tasmania is incomplete, inaccurate or misleading.  In a future post, I plan to analyse many of the websites and some of the brochures and flyers and explain their errors – with luck, changes will have been made before I get to write that post.

So it seemed that, in a blink of an eye, we had driven to the edge of the Pieman River into a white gravel car parking area, having passed a few cottages and what turned out to be the Tarkine Hotel – located all within the last 200 or so metres before the river.

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This was Corinna. Corinna is nothing more than a car parking area, the Tarkine Hotel and the Tannin Restaurant. There is no petrol station at Corinna.  The settlement is located approximately 18 km from the mouth of the Pieman River and is surrounded by some of the most dense temperate rainforest anywhere in Australia.  Corinna is located, via often narrow windy roads not all of which are sealed, approximately 346 km north-west of Hobart via Queenstown and Zeehan. It is approximately 93 km north of Strahan and 194 km south of Stanley.

The Google map below shows the Tannin Restaurant in the incorrect location.

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We had arrived but we were rather unsure exactly where we had arrived; we were puzzled. Obviously this river had to be the Pieman but where was the up-the-road restaurant and where was our accommodation booked as Corinna Wilderness Resort?

We turned the car around and started driving back the way we came, then stopped to ask a walker where the Resort was. I was somewhat tired and possibly my tone of voice (exasperated)  prompted her to point at the big building and only snap ‘there’ before she kept walking.  Jeanette and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes; we might have attitude but we weren’t ready for it in others.

We parked the car, climbed the stairs and walked inside the Tarkine Hotel; into a great bar with a large restaurant to the side. Contemporary rustic. Smart and civilised while retaining the idea that we were in the middle of the bush. On the far distant wall was a space with a sales desk and shelves with beautiful Tarkine related books and other goods – that area was designated as the General Store. We stood at the bar, asked questions, and was told our accommodation queries would be handled at the adjacent sales desk. Clear visual directions were absent and we didn’t get a sense of being welcome. At this stage, the elation of our earlier hours was disappearing.  Could our spirits be revived?

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Rating the Mt Donaldson walk

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We were surprised that a walk on this mountain track is rated as moderate to difficult; in our experience this was one of the easier walks in bushland we have encountered in Tasmania. While there are no directional or explanatory signposts on the walk, the track is in excellent condition, obvious and continuous.  The rise is gradual and does not require steep steps or clambering up near vertical surfaces. Towards the summit the following gentle steps are in place – what could be easier?

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In addition there were no waterways to negotiate nor thick bush to push aside. The reason for its rating may be that the return trip will take approximately 4 hours – but I think that walkers judge a track not by length of time rather by the obstacles and impediments that provide a degree of danger in their challenges. There was nothing dangerous about this walk, nor were there obstacles to surmount; no logs to climb or rivers to cross.

A number of websites provide useful information if you wish to walk this track. For example, go here . Note the red line on the map on this site is not the walking track, the roads are marked in white, and the walking track is not marked. The pinnacle of Mt Donaldson is to the left of the words Norfolk Road.  You can read another walker’s experience hereWalking Track Services shows the creation of the quality track on which we walked.

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Poetry from Mt Donaldson

Of course we weren’t the first and won’t be the last to walk up Mt Donaldson.  It was a complete treat when I discovered a poem written by Philip Harrington and published on the Bob Brown Foundation website here with a stunning photo of an upper portion of the track.

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To the top of Mt Donaldson

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My feet were not carrying me well so I insisted Jeanette summit the mountain on her own. Her video records part of her climb experience.

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Half an hour later I heard the sound of ecstatic “Cooee” calls coming from the top.  My friend was exhilarated by her achievement especially after waiting for a small venomous olive brown tiger snake, which had been warming itself on the track, to slither away. Extraordinary 360 degree views kept her eyes wide open in wonder and those to the north and west coasts of Tasmania were particularly breathtaking.

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The top and it’s trig point were marked.

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The view from the top is recorded in this video.

The silica mining quarries can be seen below as gashes in the forests.

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Meanwhile I waited beside the track admiring the lower level views.

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Climbing Mt Donaldson was a fabulous experience. A superb way to begin to appreciate the massive scope of the Tarkine.  Jeanette and I could not stop taking photos on this trek – despite the fact that you are only seeing a small percentage of those photos here I hope they inspire you to consider walking up Mt Donaldson.  It will be well worth the trip.

 

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