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Tarkine Forest Adventures - Shannon's Blog

DATE 12/09/2011

“Hi, I'm Shannon, during the summer of 2011 as a bursary student with Forestry Tasmania, I took the challenge to visit Forestry Tamania's 52 visitor sites.

I hope you enjoy my blogs and are inspired to visit some or all of these places for yourself."

  Located just 46km south west from Stanley, is Tarkine Forest Adventures (previously referred to as Dismal Swamp). In the worlds only known Blackwood sinkhole, it really is something special. To get there you simply drive toward Smithton, and follow the signs along the Bass Highway; from Stanley it is only just over a half hours drive.

Upon my arrival I was greeted by Graham and Meshelle Gallaher, who began running the site in September last year. From their attitude you can tell they really take pride in their work, and have some great ideas for the place in the future. I had never been to the Tarkine before, the only thing I knew about it was the slide which takes you down into the sinkhole (more about this later), however now I feel quite informed after a tour from Graham who had gained a lot of knowledge about the area in the short time he had been here.

The visitors centre building itself is quite amazing to walk into. It is sort of built into a bank which gives the impression that you are suspended above the forests below. Graham informed me that the building itself is an award winning design, from a competition by some very talented architects. The idea was to build something which wouldn’t impose too much on the surrounding environment, but also captured the amazing views in this area.

The design really showcases some of Tasmania’s native woods with blackwood panelling on walls and ceiling, stringy bark (Tasmanian Oak) flooring, and celery top pine on the cantilever.The visitors centre boasts a café and an in-house chef to satisfy those appetites after all the activities available in this great spot.

After looking around the visitor’s centre I was then guided outside to the cantilever suspended above the forest, Graham informed me that I was breathing in some of the world’s freshest air, and the only other spot in the world with air like this was South Africa in a place unreachable by people. The people living in this area really must be healthy! From the cantilever, on a good day you can see way down south and west.

It was great to just stop and take in the fresh air and views, but before I knew it I was sitting on the top of the 110m slide in a helmet and sack. Now I am not usually one to be nervous by heights, but the lovely team at Tarkine like to get their kicks and build up your anticipation as much as they can (one of the many perks of the jobs I was told). Then, they let go and I went speeding down the slide at about 45km/h. Now this may not seem fast to all you tough guys out there, but when you haven’t done it before and are twisting your way down, not knowing which way you will be going next, it is fast! Down the bottom Graham was having a chuckle to himself as I bailed out of my helmet and sack and was left shaking from the adrenaline.

Once I got my legs back under control, I went on a tour through the maze of boardwalks located in the forest below. Here you walk through not only the forest, but some quite unique artworks developed by Tasmanian artists. Some of my favourites include: the ‘Living Room’ which looks like a giant ribcage; ‘Giant’s Door’ which is exactly as it sounds; and ‘Crayfish Craters’ which have been inspired by the habitat of the burrowing crayfish which are renown in this area.

If you head back up to the visitors centre, and out to the entrance, you will see the beginning of three different mountain bike tracks, each with their own level of difficulty. At the moment they are not being used much, however Graham and Michelle hope to get them back up and running next season. I took a walk along one, where there is a bridge over a creek, apparently if you continue further you will reach a hut which used to show Tasmanian devil conservation. If you get lucky, you may even see a Tassie devil along the track, or some wallabies.

Back at the visitors centre, a quick stop off to a loo with a view (they lookout over the forest) but don’t worry, some clever architecture means that privacy is maintained. Then I ducked into the cafe, before heading back out on the road. What a great experience, and made even better by the great hospitality of Graham and Michelle.

So now I will put it to you, a dare to take the slide for yourself. Upon entrance you get two rides of the slide (the second time of which I got no warning at all- it was just as exhilarating as the first). For safety reasons you have to be 8 years old and 90 cm in height to ride, but for all the rest of you- no excuses!

GPS Coordinates :

LAT :  40°57'27.33"S
LON : 144°50'45.45"E


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