The Tasmanian Wilderness is one of the three largest temperate wilderness areas remaining in the Southern Hemisphere. The region is home to some of the deepest and longest caves in Australia. It is renowned for its diversity of flora, and some of the longest lived trees and tallest flowering plants in the world grow in the area. The Tasmanian Wilderness is a stronghold for several animals that are either extinct or threatened on mainland Australia.
Covering approximately 20 per cent of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Wilderness is one of the largest conservation reserves in Australia. At 13,800 km2, it is one of the three largest temperate wilderness areas remaining in the Southern Hemisphere. Archaeological surveys have revealed an exceptionally rich and important collection of Aboriginal sites, including Kutikina Cave. These places, along with all of the World Heritage property’s Aboriginal sites, are extremely important to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community for their exceptional cultural, emotional and spiritual value.
Over 40 sites have been located in the south west inland river valleys that indicate human occupation dating to at least 30,000 years ago. When these places were occupied the climate was significantly colder and drier than it is now, and the sites reveal the distinctive ways the Tasmanian Aboriginal community developed to survive climate change and Ice Age conditions.
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Macquarie Island is situated about 1,500 km south-south-east of Tasmania, half way between Tasmania and Antarctica at around 55 degrees south. The main island is approximately 34 kilometres long and 5.5 kilometres wide at its broadest point.
Macquarie Island provides evidence of the rock types found at great depths in the earth’s crust and of plate tectonics and continental drift, the geological processes that have dominated the earth’s surface for many millions of years. It is an island of unique natural diversity, a site of major geoconservation significance and one of the truly remarkable places on earth.
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Convict World Heritage
The influx of transported convicts, penal administrators, civil and military officers and their families, had a significant and last impact on the island. Their labour has filled the Tasmanian landscape with sandstone streetscapes and grand homes. Much of their work is still used today, from Australia’s oldest bridge, to small cottages, public buildings and wonderful streetscapes. Most of these convict built sites have been given heritage listing, protecting them for the enjoyment and education of future generations.
Eleven of Australia’s most important and highly significant convict sites were inscribed on the World Heritage List, all of which were included in the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage serial nomination lodged with UNESCO by the Australian Government in January 2008. Of the eleven sites, five are in Tasmania.
- Darlington Probation Station where there are some 16 surviving sites dating in some cases to the 1820s. More >>
- The Cascades Female Factory was a self-contained, purpose-built institution intended to reform female convicts, where the inmates did laundry and needlework services, offsetting some of the colony’s penal costs. More >>
- Port Arthur Historic Site operated as a penal station for secondary offenders until 1877, and developed into a major industrial complex. More >>
- The Coal Mines Historic Site played an important role in the development of the colony, and held up to 500 convicts. It was regarded as a particularly severe place of punishment. More >>
- Brickendon and Woolmers Estates were private farms that utilised assigned convicts, both male and female, who worked largely in agricultural jobs and contributed to the development of Tasmania’s pastoral industry. Brickendon Estate >> | Woolmers Estate >>
The remaining six sites includes four sites in New South Wales – the Old Government House and Domain, Hyde Park Barracks, the Great North Road and the Cockatoo Island Convict Site – Fremantle Gaol in Western Australia; and the Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area on Norfolk Island.