Whyte River Track
Start - Tarkine Hotel, Corinna
Length - 3.5km (Loop)
Grade - Green
Terrain - Single Track, Stairs
Vertical Climb - 50m
Time - 1 Hour
Signed - Yes
Date Hiked - 17th April 2021
Best Time - All Year Round
Traditional Custodians - Peerapper People
Directions - Starting in the small hamlet of Corinna, located three and a half hours west of Launceston, there is only one unsealed road in and out. Once you're in Corinna then head towards the cabins located up the hill and follow the road past the old engine, solar panels and towards the undercover area. The trail starts opposite the undercover area, between two of the cabins.
The Hike - With a couple of nights in Corinna under our belt, I was really starting to enjoy this secluded and wild part of Tasmania. Unfortunately we only had one full day left to enjoy the excellent surroundings and with so many hikes left to do, I had to maximise the opportunities I had. With a river cruise along the Pieman booked in for the middle part of the day (see the end of this post for details and photos), I decided to get up early and tackle the stunning and conveniently located Whyte River Track before we departed.
Having had such a wonderful time the previous day exploring Philosopher Falls near Waratah and then the Savage River Walk starting in Corinna, I was keen to head the other way from the Tarkine Hotel to see what was what. At only 3.5km in length, this is a trail I could get in before our scheduled boat trip provided I didn't go along at a snails pace (which is something I really like doing). On a chilly autumn morning in the Tarkine, I awoke around 7am and had a spot of breakfast with everyone before gathering up my camera and heading out to start the trail. Luckily it was only a very short walk from our cabin to the start of the loop (50m at a guess) and it's funny how little fanfare there is about such a lovely walk. If it wasn't for the small white sign, you could be forgiven in thinking this was an access path to the back of someone's cabin but thankfully it is so much more. Starting just after 8am and having low cloud hanging around presented some issues as the light dropped off significantly once I entered the forest.
A small price to pay for such a beautiful, enclosed trail but I'd have to keep my hand steady in order to get the shots blur-free. Right after stepping into the shroud of the forest, you are transported into another world and one I was becoming increasingly fond of. Coming from WA where the place is constantly burnt and the canopies of our forests becoming increasingly bare, it was a welcome change to enjoy a place that has effectively been left to its own devices for a long time. Like the Savage River Walk, this trail has an overgrown yet orderly feel to it with large, moss covered trees mixed in with fallen logs providing suitable habitat for the various fungi that call this area home. Over my time in Tasmania it had become a great privilege to slow down and photograph every moist and colourful fungi that I came across and this trail would provide a similar experience. This isn't a very hilly trail so I could afford to doddle along, appreciating the quality of the scenery and spending a bit of time getting the shots I wanted. With so much to photograph, I had to remind myself that I was meant to be on a boat at 9:30am so couldn't do this the whole hike.
It did take a lot of self-restraint not to photograph everything but this first stretch heading towards the river was super pretty with plenty of variety. While the fungi were amazing, I was more intrigued by the vast array of ferns that dotted the edge of the trail and beyond. They have such a wonderful texture to them with one of my favourites being the Hard-Water Fern, a deep and glossy green that looks fantastic when presented in great numbers. The wild feeling was slightly interrupted with the presence of some boardwalk but this was only brief and an information board pointed out the nearby Huon Pine that had somehow escaped the mass removal since colonial times. Continuing along, over dense tree roots and ducking under overhanging branches, the density of the forest started to increase. Loving every minute, I came across one of the highlights of this first section with a small creek providing a wonderful colour contrast thanks to the dark brown tannins and the green of the moss. Feeling like I was in the middle of nowhere and not a few hundred metres from where I woke up this morning, I snapped away and crouched down for a few moments to really appreciate where I was.
The stunning scenery didn't stop there as around the corner I was presented with a small rock wall that was covered in this wet, green flora that didn't look very solid at all. Hiding behind the greenery was a dark rock that provided a platform for the fern like plants to grow. It had rained a little overnight and the whole thing was dripping water, creating a cool effect as the limited light hit the tiny water droplets. Boardwalk helped you navigate this section as there wasn't much room against the rocky wall and the dip down towards a creek below to walk along. There were snippets of bare rock lining the trail and this was something different as the Tasmanian rainforests are so full of decaying matter that most of the time the only rocks you see are in the creek beds. Starting to head downhill, this marked the beginning of the curtains of mossy vines that I'll remember this walk for. Hanging like a sheet draped from various branches and trees, the green and gold netting looks amazing when it catches the light. Providing another element that makes you feel enclosed, it was mesmerising to walk past as I made my way down to the first of the river views.
Reaching the edge of the Whyte River, much like the Savage River to the west, the gentle waters flow into the Pieman River. Making this area a spectacular place to explore on a kayak, the mirror ball finish of the water provided some nice reflections. A gentle mist was hanging around on the opposite banks and the fairly open river bank I was standing on allowed for some wide shots looking across the river. Figuring I still wasn't very far into the walk, I took a moment to breath it all in before heading off along the trail. Given the trail hugged the edge of the Whyte and Pieman Rivers for the remainder of the walk, I would get plenty of opportunity to photograph the water. After being in the thick of the forest for the first part of the walk, the section along this stretch of the river was proving to be a more open affair. Reaching the joining of the two rivers, there is a space for a picnic rug or if you didn't bring one along, there is a picnic table to use. It's a very pleasant spot to watch the world (or kayakers) go by and worth thinking about if you have the time. Moving on, I crossed the first of many little creeks that flow into the Pieman and thankfully a small footbridge allows easy access without clambering over muddy banks.
The openness of this area allows you to appreciate the size of some of the trees along here. There are some giants living here with extensive root systems that are covered in green moss. The effect is quite magical with a Fangorn Forest look to them that made me not want to take a nap within them, just in case. Picking up the pace, I slivered between trees as I followed the well worn pad that has formed in the leaf litter. Getting my first wide views overlooking the Pieman River, the rolling mists in the distance created a moody scene that was really enjoyable. While I wasn't out at the crack of dawn, these conditions are why I love hiking early in the morning as you get the chance to see something a bit special. Continuing through some thicker forest, I noticed something bright red heading along the river and at a nearby opening I saw that it was a lone kayaker paddling along the river. I gave a wave to say hello but it went unnoticed so I kept going. Up ahead was a short diversion taking me up the hill and back into some nice, thick forest. The stairs are a necessary evil here to avoid erosion issues but I quite like them given they have grown into the surroundings.
After the little speed bump into the forest, I was really worried that I would be cutting it fine to reach the boat. Hurrying along, I took a little time every time something caught my eye but time was not my friend along this stretch. As I got closer to Corinna, a gentle putt-putt sound put me at ease, I could hear the cable ferry working away. Comforted that I must be close to the end, I went back to enjoying the trail and the transition into an area dominated by what looked like Paperbarks, complimented by thick swathes of Sword Grass. Moving between that and dense ferns, the vibrant greens through here made for a great ending. Capping it off, I saw a medium sized brown bird hopping around at the base of a nearby tree, so I stopped to try and get a clear shot. I managed a semi-decent photo before it hopped out of sight and so I made my way to the camping spots along the river. Marking the end of the single track, it was simply a case of heading past the camping platforms, the fantastic wooden Tarkine sign and then back to the cabin up the hill from the Tarkine Hotel. What a wonderful trail that was and I even had enough time to enjoy a cup of tea before we headed off on the river cruise.
Pieman River Cruise - Reunited with the travelling party, Hal and Candy had booked us in on the Pieman River Cruise that is a must-do experience if you are staying in town. We walked down to the small jetty where the 17m Acardia II is parked up and joined a full party of guests that would be enjoying the gentle cruise out towards the ocean. Built in 1939 and boasting a colourful history, this small Huon Pine ship has retired to the Tarkine for a leisurely life of showing tourists this wonderful part of the world. Having been used by the Australian Navy during WWII as a supply ship, her post war life included a brief stint as a fishing boat before finally being used for her intended purpose, a cruise boat. She's been here since the 1970s and tootles along the tidal waters of the Pieman River every day of the year. With a full compliment of guests, there wasn't much room to move about but over the course of the 4.5 hour cruise, there was plenty of opportunity to see the river from all different angles. Initially Caris and I could only get room in the middle cabin with the prized open air seats at the back all taken. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the views as we set off and the captain started his running commentary.