Arthur River, Tarkine’s karsts & rare wildlife

Tassie Tales – 8 Dec 2023 – Arthur River, Tarkine’s karsts, rare wildlife, and conservation efforts in our weekly Tassie Tales.

Tassie Tales is our weekly communiqué that explores Tasmania’s rich heritage. We quote from a diverse collection of publications, many of which are very rare. As a leader in knowledge based tourism, our goal is to educate our industry and guests with a deep understanding of the rich tapestry of Tasmania’s culture, history, and natural beauty.

This week’s source is Tarkine Trails, written by Phill Pullinger.

Arthur River

As Tasmania’s largest undammed river system, Arthur River features surrounding eucalyptus trees and myrtle rainforest. Importantly, this magnificent area shelters yellow-tailed black cockatoos, among the world’s largest cockatoos. Additionally, the giant freshwater crayfish or Tayatea is the world’s largest freshwater crustacean and can grow up to a meter in length in some streams flowing into the Arthur River.

Karsts in the Tarkine

“Karst” is a Slovenian word describing landscapes formed by dissolving soluble rocks which often result in limestone caves. The Tarkine showcases this system with its dolomite karsts, especially the arch at Trowutta and the flooded sinkhole at Lake Chisolm. For an up-close view of a Karst system in Southern Tasmania, the Hastings Caves, Tahune, Huon Valley tour by Tours around Tasmania is ideal.

Geoff King’s contribution to nature

The King family of Circular Head has been the custodian of the coastline between Bluff Hill Point and Arthur Heads (known as Kings Run) since 1880, initially running cattle on the land. Geoff King, inheriting the land and noticed the cattle’s negative impact on dunes as well as Aboriginal sites and wildlife habitat. Consequently, in 1997, he ceased cattle farming and transformed the property into a private nature reserve. This led to the regeneration of coastal plants and the return of birds like blue-winged parrots, unseen for years. Geoff’s legacy continued after his passing in 2013, with his land returning to Aboriginal ownership in 2017.

White Bellied Sea Eagle

The White Bellied Sea Eagle, Tasmania’s second-largest eagle, grows up to 85cm in length. Its call is reminiscent of a goose, and the species holds a vulnerable status in Tasmania.

Orange-bellied Parrots

The orange-bellied parrot, Tasmania’s rarest and one of Australia’s rarest, breeds in Tasmania’s far south-west. Every year, it migrates to south-east Australia, passing through Tarkin and the Bass Strait, and ending up in South Australia and Victoria. With less than 70 in the wild, it’s among the world’s three migratory parrot species, all found in Tasmania. The other two are the swift parrot and the blue-winged parrot.

Swift Parrots

Breeding in south-east Tasmania’s coastal woodlands, swift parrots migrate to south-east Australia for winter. The reason for their migration remains unknown. Sugar gliders, preying on their eggs and chicks, have become a significant threat.


Corinna’s gold rush peaked in the 1880s after the discovery of Tasmania’s largest gold nugget (7.5kgs from Rocky River). By 1883, the town had 2500 people, hotels on both riverbanks, a post office, and various stores. However, Corinna’s fortunes changed from 1900 with the Emu Bay railway opening to Zeehan and the establishment of a reserve in 1940. The Arcadia II, brought by brothers Alec and Mort Ellis in the 1970s, continues to serve the area.

James ‘Philosopher’ Smith

During Tasmania’s deep depression in the 1860s, Mainland Australia’s agriculture industries outcompeted Tasmanians, leading to a major exodus. The Upper House blocked tax base broadening efforts, likely to protect its wealth. Then, in 1871, James Smith discovered a ‘mountain of tin’ at Mt Bischoff, sparking Waratah and the west coast’s development. His discovery helped prevent Tasmania’s annexation by Victoria, as acknowledged by the Tasmanian Mines Department. Unfortunately, a drop in mineral prices in the 1890s led to an even harsher depression.

Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle

The Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, a distinct subspecies isolated for over 10,000 years, is now endangered. Only 130 breeding pairs remain in the wild. This eagle stands over 1m tall, has a wingspan of 2.2 meters, and thrives in diverse habitats like open plains and mountains. In captivity, it can live up to 40 years.