Sandy Cape is a large headland which was once home to the ‘Tarkiner’ Aboriginal people, from which the region derived its name. It was their home for several thousand years, and today, there’s evidence of huge shell middens, hut depressions and many significant cultural relics, which bare testimony to the life they once led. Sandy Cape is surrounded by magnificent granite boulders creating a number of sheltered and secluded swimming pools. It also features one of the world’s loneliest lighthouses, although with the increasing number of tourists up for the challenge to reach the cape - this may not be so anymore!
The Sandy Cape Track
is renowned for its extreme 4WD challenges with muddy waterholes, steep boggy sand dunes, river crossings, and undetermined quicksand. It is wild country and there have been vehicles that were unable to be recovered after hitting quicksand, so consider advice from rangers beforehand. You’ll also need to have your Offroad Permit from the Parks & Wildlife office at Arthur River before commencing.
The trip can be divided into two sections, with the first 20kms passing through Ordinance Point to Greenes Creek far less challenging that the second section and in fact, under the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area Management Plan 2002, travelling south of Greenes Creek is restricted to group travel with a minimum of two vehicles so be warned!
However, the entire trip from Temma south is definately 4WD only and is considerably erroded, with undulating tracks, deep flooded waterholes across the track with no diversion tracks and rocky outcrops to hop over. It’s situations like these, where your 4WD skills and/or recovery skills are put to the test. After rainfall even the first section can quickly become impassible so always be prepared to turn back if it just starts to get too bad - as the track south of Greenes Creek becomes significantly more challenging and there may even be occurrences of quicksand!
It is definatley suggested that the more vehicles in convoy - the safer it is to journey the rest of the way to Sandy Cape. As you head towards the Cape, you may be crossing beaches, climbing over sand dunes and then back down to the next beach onto soft sand. There are numerous small rivers and streams emptying into the sea, which cut through long stretches of beach. During favourable weather
and beach conditions, most of these should be shallow enough with solid bottoms. The final hurdle before reaching Sandy Cape is climbing up a steep sand hill to the plateau where the ground is harder and covered with long wiry grass and trees.
Getting all the way to Sandy Cape is indeed a challenge in itself. Although as we show here it is not the only waypoint of interest and infact a lovely day out can be had going as far as just Ordinance Point where you'll find a lovely remote beach and a huge grassy area suitable for large convoys to camp and explore the wonders of such an interesting, albeit remote and inhospitable area.
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in this region can be unpredictable and like most places
along the coast of the Tarkine, is often pounded by the ‘Roaring 40s’ - a name given for the latitudes between 40°S and 50°S because of the boisterous and prevailing westerly winds.
The coastline in this area is known to be among the most scenic and wild in Tasmania
. Vegetation near the coast consists of heath and scrublands, whilst buttongrass dominates the poorly drained moorlands. Numerous wildflowers
and orchid species dot the coast and plains during specific times of the year. Regarding bird species along the coast, you may see the red-capped plover, fairy tern, pacific gull, ruddy turnstone, raptors, and pied and sooty oyster catchers.
The whole Sandy Cape area is an Aboriginal landscape with heritage places
found throughout the area, and we’re all responsible for helping to protect these places
. If you think you recognise Aboriginal heritage
leave it alone. Walking on shell middens can cause their erosion. Leave all stone, bone, shell and plants where they are and admire them where they belong.
The word 'Tarkine' comes from one of a number of bands of Aboriginals that lived in the North-West Region of Tasmania
for thousands of years. The 'Tarkiners' were a group who were based at Sandy Cape (Tarkine Coast). The Tarkiners seasonally travelled throughout the Tarkine region, travelling as far as 140 km north to the Hunter Islands hunting for mutton birds and fur seals, and as far as 100 km east to the Surrey Hills for wallabies and emus.
In the 'The Friendly Mission' diaries, the word Tarkine was first recorded in the 1800s, by George Augustus Robinson - which gave his account of several trips made to the North-West to meet and then remove the North-West Aboriginals.