The Tarkine, Tasmania
Why: Australia's largest remaining cool climate rainforest is often put on those Top 10 lists of unbelievable places that really do exist. Yet despite its fabled beauty, mining companies see the Tarkine as a natural treasure to cash in on. Tasmania's own government rejected the National Heritage Council's recommendation that it become a National Heritage site but has welcomed nine proposals for new open pit mines over the next five years and an additional 60 licenses for mineral exploration. "The overwhelming majority of the Tarkine remains unprotected or underprotected, meaning it is technically in a conservation reserve but open to logging and mining," says Vica Bayley, Tasmanian Campaign Manager at The Wilderness Society, which has built a movement to protect the Tarkine and fight the damage being done by four-wheel drive tracks. Along with valuable metals like gold, iron, lead, and copper, there are 60 rare and endangered species that inhabit this nearly one million-acre landscape. If the government does not halt mining developments, threatened plants and animals will be displaced by waste dumps and polluted dams.
What to do: At the gateway to the Tarkine wilderness, on the North West Coast of Tasmania, the Tall Timbers hotel offers luxurious lakeside apartments at affordable rates and a panoply of resort-style amenities. Take one of several guided adventures of the Tarkine, like a Tasmanian Tiger tour or a helicopter charter. Vica Bayley suggests kayaking from Corinna to the Pieman Heads, and then walking north up the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape. "Highlights include spectacular giant Huon pines, ancient Aboriginal heritage, wild coastline and immense sand dune systems," says Bayley. "If you're lucky, you'll see a Tasmanian devil and sea eagles."
More info: discoverthetarkine.com.au