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Marrawah, TAS

The most westerly town in Tasmania with reputedly the cleanest air in the world.

Marrawah is Tasmania's westernmost settlement. It is a town known in the surfing world for its outstanding big wave surf which, in extreme weather, has produced waves reaching 19 metres. Apart from surfing Marrawah is a tiny outpost servicing the surrounding rich farming and dairy area. Beyond the town the farmlands tumble down to the sea at Green Point and West Point. The major attractions around the town include walks along the coastline, important Aboriginal carvings at Mt Cameron West and Sundown Point, and cruises along the beautiful reaches of the Arthur River.

Location

Marrawah, Tasmania's westernmost town, is located 458 km north-west of Hobart via the Midland and Bass Highway and 279 km north-west of Launceston.

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Origin of Name

It is claimed that in the Peerapper Aboriginal language 'marrawah' was the name for a eucalypt, a gum tree.

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Things to See and Do

Aboriginal Sites
Sundown Point
The Aboriginal sites in the area are of major importance. The site at Sundown Point, about 8 km south of the mouth of the Arthur River has been recorded in the National Register as "Engravings on 40 separate rock slabs of laminated mudstone...many have clearly defined motifs...The designs comprise circles, including concentric and overlapping circles, grooves or lines of pits sometimes running just inside a rock slab's periphery, crosses and other linear motifs...Engraving sites are very rare in Tasmania, and at least one panel shows the same complexity as found at Mt Cameron West, further up the coast." There is a website which provides detailed information on Sundown Point. It notes: "Similar art has since been found on rocks at Sundown Point Reserve, eight kilometres south of the mouth of the Arthur River. The engravings here have been carved into 40 separate slabs of laminated mudstone. The engravings range for distinct geometric motifs such a concentric and overlapping circles, straight lines and crosses, to shallow peck marks indicating the carving had not been finished. Unusual designs not seen at the Mount Cameron West site are visible on a number of rock faces." Check out http://www.australiaforeveryone.com.au/aborsites_tas.htm. It also has detailed information on Preminghana.

Mount Cameron West - now known as Preminghana
Mount Cameron West is one of the most important Aboriginal art sites in Tasmania. An area of 524 ha was declared an Indigenous Protected Area in 1999 and is now managed by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Land and Sea Council. Bordering the Indian Ocean, its most prominent feature is Mt Cameron West, a basalt plug which rises 168 metres above the coastal plain. The area consists of manuka thicket, tea-tree swamps, eucalyptus woodlands, poa and sedges with coast wattle and honeysuckle. Discovered in 1933 by a Devonport school teacher, A L Meston, Preminghana's engravings are recognised as the finest example of Tasmanian Aboriginal art and one of the finest displays of hunter/gatherer art in the world. Located at the northern end of a beach about 3 km from Mt Cameron West the slabs of rock in the area have been totally covered with motifs and look like pieces of sculptured rock. It is thought the site may be 2,000 years old.

The Heritage of Australia describes the site: "The motifs themselves consist of a variety of geometric or non-figurative forms, such as circles, trellises, rows of dots etc. Many of the circles are parts of composite designs, with their interior spaces occupied by crosses, parallel lines or other circles. On a nearby site there were depicted the tracks of a large bird such as an emu. These motifs have been made by punching or grinding a series of holes into the surface of the calcerenite and then abrading the ridges between them so as to form deep incised lines. A few large pointed core tools of hard quartzite and basalt were found in the excavations and these might have been the chisels of the prehistoric sculptors." There is a particularly good overview of this Aboriginal art at http://www.aboriginalartonline.com/regions/tasmania.php

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Other Attractions in the Area

Woolnorth Wind Farm
Located north of Marrawah, the Woolnorth Wind Farm is located at Cape Grim, operated by Hydro Tasmania, and comprises two wind farms - the Bluff Point Wind Farm and the Studland Bay Wind Farm. They are located on a coast which claims to have the cleanest air on the planet. This is not an idle boast. It is the result of air samples recorded at the Baseline Air Pollution Station at Cape Grim. It is possible to visit both of the wind farms on an organised half or full day tour which also includes the remarkable Van Diemen's Land Company's remnants at Woolnorth. Check out http://www.woolnorthtours.com.au for more details or tel: (03) 6452 1493.

Arthur River and Gardiner Point
Arthur River lies 16 km south of Marrawah and, although it is a tiny isolated settlement, it offers two cruises up the Arthur River. The family owned Arthur River Cruises on the M.V. George Robinson leave Arthur River at 10.00 am, travel upstream for 70 minutes past banks densely forested with myrtles, sassafras, celery-top pine, laurels, blackwoods, and giant tree ferns. It includes lunch and a walk in the riverside rainforest, and return to Arthur River by 3.00 pm. The tours can be booked on (03) 6457 1158 or check out http://arthurrivercruises.com. They were the first cruise operators in an area which, up until the 1950s, was so isolated that to cross the Arthur River there was a hand operated cable-drawn punt. The hand operation was replaced by a diesel motor and then, in 1968, a single track bridge was built across the river. The other cruise operator is Arthur River Reflections, tel: (03) 6457 1288 or check out http://www.arthurriver.com.au.

Gardiner Point, which lies to the south of Arthur River, has called itself The Edge of the World because, apart from its isolation, it is further south than Cape Agulus (the southernmost point of Africa) and therefore the waves breaking on the shores have come uninterrupted all the way across the Great Southern Ocean from Argentina.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the coastal region around Marrawah was occupied by members of the Peerapper Aboriginal language group.

* In the 1800s Aboriginal people were forcibly moved from the lands around Marrawah.

* The Marrawah pub was used by Cobb & Co as one of its many resting stations.

* The last Tasmanian tiger was captured near Marrawah in the 1920s.

* In 1968 a single track bridge was built over the Arthur River at the tiny settlement of Arthur River.

* In the 1970s the West Coast Surf Classic helped the district gain a reputation as a significant big surf venue.

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Visitor Information

The closest Visitor Information is the Smithton Tourist Information Site, 29 Smith Street, Smithton and the closest centre is the Stanley Visitor Information Centre, 45 Main Road, Stanley, tel: (03) 6458 1330.

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Useful Websites

The local website is http://www.stanley.com.au which has information about accommodation in the town.

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