It’s early morning. With a nudge, my kayak floats out onto the dark waters of the Pieman River. Ancient takayna/Tarkine rainforest hugs the banks with impenetrable deep greens. Mist blankets our tannin-stained waters ahead. The silence – it’s other worldly.
We’re on our way to Lover’s Falls having woken up at Corinna Wilderness Village earlier than most. We’d been told the mirrored reflections of the takayna/Tarkine, Australia’s largest temperate rainforest, would be well worth our early rise. It feels like we’re the only humans on earth as our paddles dip into the Pieman, gently pushing us further from the historic mining town that is now an inviting wilderness retreat. But many have lived and explored these parts before us. For some 40,000 years the region was home to the Tasmanian Aboriginal tarkiner people. Corinna itself is the Aboriginal name for a young Tasmanian Tiger and one could be forgiven for thinking they might find one out here.
Fast forward to 1881 and Corinna became popular among white settlers in the hunt for gold. When the biggest nugget of gold ever discovered in Tasmania (at a whopping 7.5 kilos) was discovered in 1883 not far from Corinna, folk flocked here and the population swelled to 2500. Over the next decade, more than 30 structures popped up including two colourful hotels, a post office and more. Sailing ships and steamers cruised in. There are still plenty of remnants of these mining days.
As our chatter fills the crisp morning air, we spot it. A staircase in the wilderness. The wooden stairs, wrapped in rainforest look like they lead to some heavenly wild secret. As the story goes, two lovers on their honeymoon found gold here. They found a nugget so mighty that they took it back to Hobart Town and turned it into a bustling hotel. These days, that very hotel is North Hobart’s, Republic Bar.
We park our kayaks at the stairs and ascend into cool wilderness. The takayna/Tarkine is a living and breathing connection to the ancient super continent Gondwanaland and we can feel every bit of this. As Lovers Falls cascade down, I close my eyes and hear its rush with greater power. I breathe. Nature is having its way over me. The present moment has arrived in all its simplicity and untouched goodness. It’s magical – like a portal back to where we can exist as humans if we choose to drop the screens and relentless daily demands.
Back in our kayaks we paddle up the Savage River, home to Australia’s furthest inland shipwreck. We paddle around the S.S. Croydon’s ruin, still holding its precious Huon Pine cargo from 1919. Rumour has it this ship was purposefully sunk by the sailors who took off to the pub. It’s here we leave our kayaks for the trusty Corinna staff to collect later. We then set foot in the takayna/Tarkine to bushwalk back to the comfort of our miner-style Corinna cabins.
This return wander is where we get up close to the micro-beauty of the rainforest. Bright-green moss clings to Huon pines that have lived here thousands of years. Species of fungi, moss and liverworts abound. We later read 92 moss species and 151 liverwort varieties have been recorded. We’re interrupted mid-stride by vivid blue mushrooms – Mycena Interrupta no less! These spectacular shrooms have our photographer mate lying down on the forest floor for an intimate capture. Further up the trail another loses footing on a slippery root. She’s un-harmed and we erupt into joyful laughs. Nature’s high.
We natter in wonder as we navigate an extra loop of this wild wonderland out to Whyte River’s mouth. With our souls nourished, we arrive back at Corinna. Huddled in a rustic open-air dining hut, we get the fire roaring. This is what Corinna does so well. It’s basic, it’s raw and it ensures you remain connected to the wilderness. (Though you can enjoy exceptional fare at the Tannin Restaurant mid-September to mid-May). The Wallabies graze on their well-manicured marsupial lawns as we graze on delish Tassie cheeses followed by a hearty pre-prepared meal by the Corinna chef.
Then, as pitch blackness engulfs the village, I look up. The stars are intensely shining. No wonder a lady on our Pieman River Cruise aboard the heritage-listed Arcadia II had seen an Aurora (Southern Lights) the night before.
Tucked up in my cosy cottage in the rainforest, I drift off to dreams of the Tasmanian Tigers who still might just roam about Corinna …
Find out more about Corinna. And get excited ... Corinna Wilderness Village have a special Winter Deal where you can stay for 3 nights and pay for 2, July 1 - Aug 30, 2023. Hop in fast and escape to the wilds!
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Words: Alice Hansen
Images: Chris Crerar
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