South West Tasmania

Evening at The Shank

In early January I went to Tasmania to take part in an annual ‘adventure volunteering’ project to remove invading weeds from the remote coastline of the Southwest wilderness.  After seven years of the project, the results are looking very good.  Our team of five walked about 50 km of coast about halfway between Macquarie Harbour and Port Davey and found (and removed) only 133 new sea spurge plants and 20 marram grass.  There will always be new invasions because seeds travel by sea from big populations north of Macquarie Harbour, but the large infestations south of there are now largely beaten.

Jenny and Colin digging out marram grass

Very satisfying to be doing something practical for wilderness!  The logic of ‘adventure volunteering’ is that people enjoy themselves between working, so I had time for photography.  Alas, I could only carry a digital system for the nine-day walk due to the ruggedness of the terrain.  I’m now processing the results and will upload some more Tasmania images as soon as I can.

We saw the big South West fire blow up to the south of us on 4 January – the same day of extreme temperatures and fierce winds that the Dunalley fire did so much damage (as we found out later).  We had seen the lightning on 3 January.  Massive pyrocumulus clouds were billowing up from over the horizon, so I knew it was bad.  The fire now covers 49,000 ha of the World Heritage Area – the biggest fire in the South West since the 1930s.

On the inland plains

As I write, the fire is still burning on both sides of the famed Western Arthur range – which could be threatened if it blows up again.  We’re all hoping for rain, which is the only way it will end.  With climate change, Tasmania’s amazing and unique rainforests and alpine vegetation are facing a potentially tragic future.

Copyright Ian Brown Photography