timber Anglican church in Marrawah
Marrawah (including Arthur River and Temma
Tasmania's westernmost settlement - important
for its Aboriginal sites.
'Coastwards the plains opened out as far as the
eye could reach, a seemingly interminable vista
of wind-swept scrub and fast browning grasses
stretching on towards the horizon'.
This was how the writer Bernard Cronin
described the countryside around Marrawah in his
1918 novel The Coastlanders.
Marrawah is Tasmania's westernmost settlement
and the furthest settlement from Hobart. Located
491 km northwest of Hobart and 292 km northwest
of Launceston, via the Bass Highway, Marrawah
lies at the western end of the A2 - a tiny
outpost at the end of the sealed road servicing
the surrounding rich farming and dairy area.
Beyond the town the farmlands undulate down to
the sea at Green Point and West Point where the
cold and inhospitable waters of the Southern
Ocean crash against the lonely coastline.
The major attractions in the area include
walks along the coastline, the important
Aboriginal carvings at Mt Cameron West and
Sundown Point, and cruises along the beautiful
reaches of the Arthur River.
Things to see:
The Aboriginal sites in the area are of major
importance. The site at Sundown Point, about 8
km south of the mouth of the Arthur River has
been recorded in the National Register as
'Engravings on 40 separate rock slabs of
laminated mudstone...many have clearly defined
motifs...The designs comprise circles, including
concentric and overlapping circles, grooves or
lines of pits sometimes running just inside a
rock slab's periphery, crosses and other linear
motifs...Engraving sites are very rare in
Tasmania, and at least one panel shows the same
complexity as found at Mt Cameron West, further
up the coast.'
Mount Cameron West is one of the most
important Aboriginal art sites in Tasmania.
Discovered in 1933 by a Devonport school teacher
it is recognised as the finest example of
Tasmanian Aboriginal art and one of the finest
displays of hunter/gatherer art in the world.
Situated at the northern end of a beach about 3
km from Mt Cameron West it is only 20 cm above
the high tide level. The slabs of rock in the
area have been so totally covered with motifs
that they look like pieces of sculptured rock.
The Heritage of Australia describes the site:
'The motifs themselves consist of a variety of
geometric or non-figurative forms, such as
circles, trellises, rows of dots etc. Many of
the circles are parts of composite designs, with
their interior spaces occupied by crosses,
parallel lines or other circles. On a nearby
site there were depicted the tracks of a large
bird such as an emu. These motifs have been made
by punching or grinding a series of holes into
the surface of the calcerenite and then abrading
the ridges between them so as to form deep
incised lines. A few large pointed core tools of
hard quartzite and basalt were found in the
excavations and these might have been the
chisels of the prehistoric sculptors.'
It is thought the site may be 2 000 years
old. There has been a long-standing argument
about the nature of these carvings. Some experts
claim that they have distinct similarities with
carvings in Central Australia while other
experts claim that there are few similarities.
|The MV George
Robinson ready to depart from the Arthur
The Arthur-Pieman Area
The other great attraction in the area is the
Arthur-Pieman area which lies 16 km south of
Marrawah. It is an ideal and beautiful area for
walking (both in the bush and along the
coastline), horse riding, fishing, off road
driving and picnics.
The Arthur River has always presented an
obstacle to exploration of the area. Up to the
1950s the only way to cross it was by hand
operated cable-drawn punt. Hand operation was
replaced by a diesel motor and then, in 1968, a
single track bridge was built across the river.
With the construction of the bridge the road was
extended down the coast to Temma Harbour and
visitors with 4WD vehicles can now enjoy
exploring this very isolated area of Australia.
Temma Harbour was the sea port for the mining
town of Balfour at the turn of the century when
tin was first found in the area.
For people looking for something a little
more organised the family owned Arthur River
Cruises on the M.V. George Robinson leave Arthur
River at 10.00 a.m., travel upstream for 70
minutes, include lunch and a walk in the
riverside rainforest, and return to Arthur River
by 3.00 p.m. The tours can be booked on (03)