Tasmania hosts a unique ecosystem with hundreds of plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else on earth. Tasmania's iconic plant is the Huon Pine which has developed from a plant family that existed more than 200 million years ago. The Huon Pines that can be seen in Tasmania today are some of the oldest living organisms on earth. High up on Mount Read, a stand of pines has been found that are estimated to be over 3000 years old.
Ancient Story Tellers
Whilst observing Huon Pines, consider that these trees are like storytellers. Scientists have mapped their rings in order to study climate change over the past 4000 years. These trees also tell the story of early European settlers who had to traverse some of Tasmania’s most treacherous terrain to reach them.
These “living fossils” are heavily protected today, but, in the past, Huon Pines were coveted for boat building due to their high oil content that prevented rotting. These trees are also at the mercy of the elements because they begin as small shrubs and grow very slowly, taking 500 years to reach a maximum height of 30 metres. When you stand beside these ancient wonders, you can feel they have survived the ravages of time, nature and human commerce to form the magnificent specimens we see today.
Visiting These Living Fossils
Huon Pines generally live in cool, wet areas such as forests near riverbanks or lakes. Visiting the oldest pines on Mt. Read is a task for serious adventure travellers; however, there are a number of more accessible places where you can view these incredible trees during your travels. When visiting the West Coast of Tasmania, a Gordon River Cruise which incorporates a temperate rainforest walk is an ideal option. Whilst staying at your accommodation in Strahan or its environs, make sure to include a cruise to Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage area in your itinerary.
Gordon River Cruises offers a variety of cruise packages that will cater to your interests and schedule. If you have any questions about the best cruise for you, please contact us and we will work with you to plan your perfect trip.
Image credit: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett