Into the Depths of the Tarkine: a Tassie Trek for Climate Action

27.04.21 By

In early April a group of Climate Council supporters, local guides, and Climate Councillor Will Steffen set off on a life-changing adventure into the heart of Tasmania to build support and understanding for urgent climate action. Here’s Will’s story.

It hardly seems possible that it was only two weeks ago that we completed our trip into the Tarkine, Tasmania. Returning back to the ‘real world’ was a jolt. Putting the final touches on the Council’s ‘Aim High, Go Fast’ report plus seemingly endless media engagements completely consumed me.

Now, though, I can look back at the magical six days that we shared in the Tarkine. The weather was kind, the walking was challenging at times but the scenery was magnificent (especially the other-worldly fungi), and the local folklore was something that only the most remote areas of Tasmania could produce.

I was encouraged to learn that thylacines still prowl the wild areas of northwest Tasmania, at least according to the museum attendant at the old mining settlement of Waratah: “Oh yes, we have many sightings of thylacines up here, but we don’t tell any humans, only scientists”. I guess I know where I stand.


Regrouping at Hellyer Gorge and Philosopher’s Falls. Photo: Ellyce Crabb

The Pieman River ferry crossing at Corinna had its own charming sign, with a button to push to wake up the ferryman if he was still in bed. The earlier sign was even more direct: “Ferry crossing hours 10am – 2pm. Before 10am, ferryman is in bed. After 2pm, he is pissed.”

And, of course, a trip to the Tarkine would not be complete without hearing the grizzly story of how the Pieman River got its name. I’m still trying to work out how the escaped convict Alexander Pearce got the pastry to make the human meat pie that he was apparently consuming when the authorities caught up with him on the banks of the Pieman.

But most of all, I enjoyed getting to know all of our wonderful participants; your stories were fascinating, your commitment to meeting the climate change challenge is inspiring, and your company throughout our adventures was most enjoyable.


Will and fellowship following trail along Pieman’s Head. Photo: Ellyce Crabb

I particularly enjoyed the Q and A session.  It was such a pleasure to sit down with a glass of wine and exchange thoughts and ideas about the challenges that lie ahead. There is no doubt that these challenges are indeed formidable, but it is so encouraging to share our commitment to meeting these challenges and our approaches to getting the job done.

Perhaps the most enjoyable experience was having three days of absolutely no electronic contact with the rest of the world – no phones, no texts, no emails and no internet access. Only the beautiful Tarkine forests around us, the Pieman River cruise, and the wild northwest Tassie coast. It was the most relaxing three days I’ve had in a long, long time.


Atop Mount Donaldson. Photo: Ellyce Crabb

A real highlight of the trip was the climb up to the top of Mt Donaldson, with its expansive views of the mountains, forest, and heathlands. Sharing the summit with all of you, and the view of the wind farm in the distance put all the pieces together: modern technology and committed people – a good combination to save the ancient forests of northwest Tassie and accelerate action on climate change.

A sincere thanks to all who make the Tarkine trip such as success – to Dave and Inspired Adventures for their superb organisation, to Imogen and Emma for guiding us through the forests and up the mountains, and to Paul for his explosive stories of the Tarkine’s mining heritage.  But most of all, a huge thanks to Ellyce for the flawless planning and execution of this challenging trip and, of course, to the 11 amazing people whose strong support is the type of fuel that keeps the Climate Council going!

A group of people posing for a photo in front of a lush rainforest
Merry hikers following the Savage and Whyte River walks. Photo: Ellyce Crabb


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