The Third Corner of our Australian adventure didn’t quite work out the way we planned. Our original idea was to take a Wilderness Tour involving a plane ride into the heart of Tasmania’s South West National Park, where very few people venture. It’s considered one of the best ways to see the true Tasmanian wilderness, well away from roads and civilization, and also one of the only chances to see the endangered Orange Bellied parrot, which is now extinct on the Australian mainland, the victim of predation by rats and other introduced species.
So, we were very disappointed when we received a call the evening before we were due to fly, telling us that the trip was cancelled due to high winds, and that, because of demand, it was unlikely that they’d be able to rebook us before we left Tassie. Disappointed but not deterred, we decided we’d still head into the wilderness region – by car, and just see how far we could go before we ran out of road, fuel, patience or some combination of these.
Our first stop was the Tahune Airwalk, located 30kms into the forest. The ‘airwalk’ is a series of metal bridges suspended above the forest and popular with tour groups and cruise liners (an entire cruise ship had descended on the location as we arrived). While the scenery was pretty enough, we concluded that this wasn’t the wilderness we were looking for, and we drove on, deeper into the forest and further down the coast.
The final official settlement on the road south was, appropriately enough, called Southport and is the most southerly township in Australia. Southport is best known for, well, being the most southerly township in Australia. A small collection of holiday cottages, boats, a general store and a sense of not much going on seemed to define the town, and after stopping to admire the view, we drove on.
Beyond Southport, we knew we were making progress when the road degraded into a potholed, rutted gravel track and the tourist buses and cruise passengers were far behind. In fact, pretty much everything was far behind, and we barely saw another vehicle from that point onwards.
Our next stop, somewhat unexpectedly, was a gem and fossil shop, sitting by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. If the retail location mantra is ‘location, location, location’, I’m really not sure what to make of choosing this spot for your shop. The location was stunning, but I doubt the shop saw much business from passers-by! However, the lovely lady running the store was an enthusiast for her topic and Tanya chose a rare Tasmanian jade pendant, made from a recent jade discovery on a wilderness beach.
After a couple of hours further driving down the gravel track, the road finally ran out, at a place called Cockle Bay. From there, if you wanted to go further, you had to go on foot, and as time was getting on (plus we were in the National Park where dogs, are, shall we say, frowned upon), we decided this was as far as we could go that day. So we recorded a short video to mark our Third Corner and then headed back to civilisation.
Some photographs of beautiful Cockle Bay, at the end of the track in Southern Tasmania: