Tarkine Treasure, Tasmania, Australia, March 2022

This week I ventured on foot into the Tarkine region in north-eastern Tasmania- a small area of still untouched old forest that has existed since the days of Gondwanaland and the dinosaurs. One of the largest and oldest areas of temperate rainforest in the world it was an expedition through a mossy ancient underworld.

The canopy of the rainforest is made up of towering myrtle beech and sassafras trees in a vertical race for sunshine, while below in dappled light are glades of giant treeferns. But to appreciate the incredible diversity of plant life in the Tarkine you need to get down on hands and knees to where hundreds of different ferns, mosses and lichens blanket the moist forest floor. There are small splashes of vibrant colour amongst the green from fungi that proclaim their presence with vivid blues, reds and oranges.

I trekked for 6 days with a guide threading our way through an emerald kingdom and camping by streams of delicious pure water. The hiking was sometimes a strange experience that varied from navigating slippery tangles of roots to walking on a soft confetti of multicoloured beech leaves or springing along on a bouncy pillow of forest mulch carpeted in thick moss.

Our forest mates included glimpses of the black cockatoo and the green rosella in the treetops and traces of Tasmanian devils that were busy in the night while we slept. The strangest of forest creatures and most elusive to spy is a small crayfish that builds tall mud mounds around a burrow in the forest floor- moisture being so abundant it doesn’t need to live by a stream.
The Tarkine region and old forest is a national and global treasure – creation and diversity at its most exquisite and a link with life as it was thousands if not millions of years ago. I only hope in the rush to chop down, dig up and exploit the planet’s resources that the Tarkine survives for generations to come.
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