The trip down the Pieman River

The trip on the Arcadia  between Corinna and the Pieman Heads takes approximately 1.5 hrs each way.

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Three kilometres down, when we passed the Savage River entering the Pieman River I was able to take a series of photos.

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The water is so calm that seeing the inlet of the Savage River was almost impossible.  However, in the photo below,  something red can be seen at water level in the distance.  That would be a red kayak tied up at the pontoon located at the end of the walk to Savage River from Corinna.

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Then Mt Donaldson rose up high on the northern side of the River.  You can see it in the short video here.

A still image also shows the distant mountain and the grandeur of the reflected landscape.

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But as marvellous as these vistas were, it was the forests that truly enthralled us.

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In particular, I found the extensive scale of the individual trees and the overall forests that swept over endless hills to be overwhelmingly powerful.

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Patterns across the water also fascinated us.

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The landscape presented quite dramatically depending on the nature of the daylight.

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During our trip we were free to move around inside and outside of the craft to gain the viewpoints that suited us best; we could sit or stand depending on inclination. The pilot and his offsider were open to anyone who stepped inside their cabin for a chat, for local information and for specific details about the river and much more.  Cake and cups of tea/coffee were distributed during the morning.

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The pilot used the intercom to keep us informed.  For example, in this video he can be heard talking about Tasmania’s famous Huon Pine tree.

NOTE: please feel comfortable to use any of our photos as your computer Background or Screensaver.  I change mine frequently; when I write this blog and choose the images for inclusion some of the truly special ones I load up so I can enjoy them for longer.  To open the computer each day and see this inspiring landscape is to be uplifted when starting out.

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The Arcadia

What is the Arcadia? In our Tarkine adventure, the Arcadia was the name of the boat on which we cruised westwards from Corinna along the Pieman River to a jetty located a little before the river flowed into the Ocean.

For some readers, the Greek word ‘Arcadia’ will evoke utopian visions of wilderness.  Our Arcadia propelled us through that idyllic vision. Our trip, skimming through the glassy water, was magical. I was perpetually entranced by the diversity of trees edging the river for their colours and textures.  I found the changing topography of the land around each river bend ever-engaging.

While waiting to board at Corinna, the Pieman River was mirror calm.

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The Fatman ferry was waiting to see vehicular customers on the other side of the river, at that moment of our departure.

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Once on the Arcadia, I looked down the river in the direction we were about to motor.  Isn’t this stunning?  Don’t you want to be there?

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As we moved into the centre of the river the thickness of the vegetation was everywhere apparent.

 

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Heading for the ocean

Our final day in Corinna arrived. Up, eating breakfast, packing the gear, loading the car. Then we drove down and parked beside the Pieman River ready to join the Arcadia, the boat that would take us westwards along the River to the ocean.

Some refer to this as the Great Southern Ocean but to my mind the Southern Ocean encircles the Antarctica continent and is at the southern end of all other oceans including the Pacific and the Atlantic. Therefore I prefer to think of this water as the eastern most extension of the Indian Ocean. The waves on the west coast of Tasmania are always wild so I like the idea that they have travelled for thousands of kilometres from South Africa and are indeed wild, very wild.  Wikipedia describes the historical definitions of the boundaries of the various oceans and shows how these limits and the names of the oceans have changed over time. An 1863 map shows the Southern Ocean underneath mainland Australia and edging the west coast of Tasmania.

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By contrast, the CIA Facebook has the following image according to Wikipedia. This shows the Indian Ocean along our Tasmanian west coast, and while I am not suggesting the CIA are correct I like this version for the reasons given above.

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The Burrowing Crayfish – an unusual crustacean

In the first part of the path up to Mt Donaldson on Day 3 we noticed lots of holes in the ground with mud ‘ribs’ above ground indicating some creature had been digging. It reminded me of beaches on where I have noticed after crabs dig down quickly they leave a rise of structured sand behind. We noticed these holes and rims in different soils and were puzzled until I reread my notes researched before making our trip to the Tarkine.  My notes had lifted words from somewhere online in reference to the Savage River walking track from Corinna “As you walk the last stage of the track, watch out for the Burrowing Crayfish.  Whilst they are very shy you will see evidence of where they live – mounds of raised dirt with their entry hole in the middle.  Try not to step on them.” Here are a few examples of the hundreds of holes we saw during our walks.

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Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service provides extensive information as well as some photos of the elusive creatures; the Freshwater Burrowing Crayfish is native to Tasmania.

At Corinna a special area has been designated and designed to let people see the burrows, without damage.

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The above ground walkway passed through a peaceful grove. 20170307_091913

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On either side of the walkway, the burrows of the Crayfish were everywhere.  But I never saw a nipper.

 

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Identifying flora along the Pieman and around Corinna

A number of panels provide excellent assistance for visitors who are curious to know what tree or bush they are looking at.

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Interpretation sites at Corinna

The interpretative panels with photos were of most interest to me.  For example, despite the fact this shot below of the Pieman River meeting the heads and the Southern/Indian Ocean would have been photographed at some time since 1816 (the first photos were taken in France in the 1820s), it shows a country untouched by European settlement.

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Today’s aerial shot is quite different; refer to the view on today’s Google Maps where roads and buildings are in evidence.

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Notice the line of rollers crashing onto the beach at the southern entrance to the River in both photos. It was not until hours after I had looked at the historic photo that I travelled to the mouth of the Pieman River and watched the breakers at first hand. Very dramatic.

The next two photos of one of the interpretation boards at Corinna feature a remarkable early pioneer Johnny Ahrberg who hailed originally from Sweden.

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When I think that at the end of the 19th century and into the early years of the 20th century he was living alone at the wild Pieman Heads, I shake my head in admiration. That wild desolate country may have been a familiar home to Tasmanian aboriginal tribes for millennia but for a newby, a European settler without knowledge of the local fauna and flora and with seasons occurring at opposite times to those in northern Europe, Ahrberg must have experienced enormous challenges.   I am not sure whether it was his endurance or his achievements that were recognised when a large bay south of the Pieman River was named after him; the Ahrberg Bay. A fact which amazed me can be read here:  ‘The annual rainfall of Ahrberg Bay is about 1936 mm. The most rain received by Ahrberg Bay in a day was 97 mm.’  The Pieman River heads are situated only about 7 kms north as the ‘crow flies’ so this rainfall information is a reminder of the deluges that fall in that part of the world. Ahrberg is unlikely to have lived in anything more than a basic unlined wooden hut – how did he waterproof it, I wonder. The Advocate newspaper published a detailed story after Arhberg’s death in 1937 (refer to the issue on Monday 2nd August) in which mention is made of his ‘hard life’. Of that I have no doubt.  But I wonder what happened to his dog?

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Historic buildings at Corinna

Not to be missed in Corinna are the small miners’ cottages and other historic buildings that were originally part of the operating mining township. The buildings edge either side of the main road between the cottages and the Tarkine Hotel.

Examples:  the original General Store

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The original Butcher Shop

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Other sites are marked.  For example

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