Bill and I have just returned from a 3D/2N trip to Melaleuca and Bathurst Harbour in remote southwest Tasmania.Our first and final sightings during this 3 day break were of the highly endangered Orange-bellied Parrot (OBP). This was Bill’s second visit to Bathurst Harbour and Melaleuca – the first was in 1994 when he sailed with a group from Strahan to Hobart to attend the inaugural Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. I have always been interested in the history and wildlife of the area but have been deterred by the isolation, legendary bad weather, poor access and rugged terrain that have combined to ensure that the Melaleuca area was visited mostly by hardy sailors and bushwalkers. I have heard much about the plight of the OBP and the strategies to save this precious remaining population, so an opportunity to see this rare feathered gem hooked me right away. Some years ago Par Avion built the Southwest Wilderness Camp at the mouth of Melaleuca Inlet and began to fly in travellers seeking to explore this area. This leisurely, comfortable option has opened up the rugged region to a greater cross-section of travellers.
- Hot weather and calm seas
- 2 scenic flights over remote Southwest of Tasmania
- Amazing scenery and perfect reflections
- Beautiful Firetails
- Orange-bellied parrots
Melaleuca has a rich history that features whalers, piners, miners, sailors, explorers and fishermen who have visited the area for over 200 years, whilst the Needwonnee people, the traditional owners lived in the area for thousands of years. Melaleuca is located in the southern area of Bathurst Harbour which is a large shallow bay connected to Port Davey and ultimately the Southern Ocean by the 12 kilometre Bathurst Channel. The waters flowing from Bathurst Harbour are typically stained a reddish-brown derived from tannin leached from button-grass and heathland plains.
Melaleuca, Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey are part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which was initially proclaimed by UNESCO in 1982 and today comprises approximately 1,000,000 hectares or 20% of the area of Tasmania. The area has been subjected to severe glaciation and contains one of the world’s last remaining expanses of temperate rainforests. Remains found in limestone caves are evidence of human habitation dating back more than 20,000 years.
Melaleuca’s most famous resident was Deny King, a young tin miner who followed his father into the southwest wilderness, married and raised his own family in the wilderness. The King family were the subject of a 1975 episode of the ABC series A Big Country. A book by Christobel Mattingley called King of the wilderness : a life of Deny King (2001) documents his extraordinary life in this rugged region. Today, Deny’s Nissen hut style home is visited by his daughter, Janet Fenton who I was fortunate to meet ths trip. Janet who arrived for a month long stay while we were there. She and her husband had travelled around the south coast of Tasmania in their own boat and were planning on working with Friends of Melaleuca to repair slips, the Nissen Hut and complete work at Clayton’s Corner.
Deny’s sister Winsome married a local fisherman, Clyde Clayton and lived first at Bond Bay in Port Davey before moving into the calmer Forest Lagoon and re-assembling their house and garden from Bond Bay at Clayton’s Corner. Win and Clyde left Melaleuca in 1976 and their home is now owned and managed by the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service and is available to day visitors, fishermen and passing yachties.
Melaleuca’s second famous resident is the Orange-bellied Parrot, (OBP) a highly endangered species of which approximately only 40 individual wild birds remain, including this year’s juveniles. The National Recovery Plan for the Orange-bellied Parrot provides support to this population with captive breeding, nesting boxes and food stations.
Edited by Treepol, 11 March 2017 - 08:30 AM.