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The tangible Tarkine


Dylan Wood looks over an expanse of the Tarkine rainforest in Tasmania from Mt. Livingstone, as Andy Caller takes a photograph in the foreground.

Credit: Dan Haley


Protest banner at Riley Creek Venture Minerals' proposed open cut mine site with the Tarkine Action Group.

Credit: Andy Caller


The magnificent Philosopher Falls Cascade in the Tarkine, Tasmania.

Credit: www.facebook.com/andycallerphotography

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By Dylan Wood, creator of the Tangible Tarkine Experience, designed to help protect Tasmania's precious wilderness.

Australians have inherited the most ancient, habitable continent on the Earth. In my view, we are therefore the custodians of some of the oldest wilderness on the planet.

Australia’s natural history stretches back unbroken to a time well before people were around to remember. Giant tree ferns in the Tarkine in Tasmania grow at a rate of only a centimetre a year: to me, they’re whispering the ancient ecosystems of Gondwana.

Right now, the Tarkine area in Australia’s island state of Tasmania is under threat from devastating open-cut mining operations. These operations are set to destroy the delicate ecosystems of the largest temperate rainforests in the Southern Hemisphere, and one of the world’s last great remaining wilderness areas.

In the 1980s, a single photograph by Peter Dombrovskis mobilised an entire generation to stand up and speak out for the Franklin River, successfully saving it from destruction. I believe that the same is possible for the Tarkine.

I plan to create the Tangible Tarkine Experience, an exhibit shown on busy city streets across Australia. It will use multimedia technology to invoke awareness for the Tarkine by creating a five-sense immersive experience, re-creating the feel of being in the forest, transporting you to the scene.

The idea for the concept started in my hometown of Adelaide. A friend of mine, a gifted photographer called Andy Caller (see the pullout poster in the current May/June issue of Green Lifestyle magazine), told me of his plans to head to Tasmania for summer to photograph birds at the start of 2014. I was able to put him in touch with my friends from the Huon Valley Environment Centre, who helped him find locations to take stunning photographs.

Then this January, Andy was exhibiting this work at the Weld Echo exhibition in Salamanca, Hobart. Much to Andy’s amazement Bob Brown was hanging around looking at his work and introduced himself. Bob thought highly of Andy’s work and offered his business card, expressing that he would like Andy to go to the Tarkine and photograph it for him.

Meanwhile, I was on my way to Tassie in January this year for the Forest Skill Share, run by Miranda Gibson of Still Wild Still Threatened; a forum for activist conservationists to share knowledge related to directly engaging in environmental campaigns. My plan was to stay for one week and then head back, but its now three months later now and I’m still in Tasmania, thinking about the Tarkine and what I can do for it. This place has a habit of drawing you in like that...

Andy and I secured a spot on a tour of the Tarkine in February, run by Save the Tarkine and Tarkine Action Group, who are two of the groups doing the major legal and groundwork defending the region. We would be shown the places that exemplify its uniqueness and visit the sites set out to become massive open cut mining pits. Namely, Riley Creek, Mt. Lindsay, and Mt. Livingstone.

It was during this tour that I had an epiphany; I realised that anyone who visits the Tarkine wilderness is touched by it’s enchanting beauty. Anyone who spends time in the Tarkine could never sit by and idly watch as industry and developers plot to destroy it. Therefore I decided that if I couldn’t take the people to the forest, I would take the forest to the people. Having a background in video production and interactive media, the solution was clear. My vision of the Tarkine Experience had to be fully immersive and represent as closely as possible the feeling of actually being in the Tarkine. I knew that the project had to include Sound, Sight, Smell and Touch to engage the full spectrum of senses. Thus was the Tangible Tarkine Experience born!

We are spreading the message that greater economic benefit can come from the tourism potential of the Tarkine rather than exploiting it for it mineral resources. Our argument is based on a full economic feasibility report from the Cradle Coast Authority. Read the study here.

I am also working to acknowledge that the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessments of the mine sites are inadequate and fail to respect the 40,000+ years of unique human existence in the Tarkine. This holds immense importance to anthropology studies, and is currently not fully recognised or explored, and in danger of being lost forever as a result of mining activities.

The Tangible Tarkine Experience will be featured at the Melbourne Environmental Film Festival in September, and at an event with The Wilderness Society on June 5 later this year. Both of these events are taking place in Melbourne’s buzzing hub at Federation Square, but the Experience is looking for exhibitions at high profile public events all around Australia for the next two years.

The Tangible Tarkine Requires sponsorship to get off the ground! Find out about the Tangible Tarkine Experience here: www.pozible.com/tangibletarkine

The Tarkine is a haven for over 50 species of Australian fauna, which are listed as either threatened or endangered. The proposed mines pose a very real threat of extinction to some of these animals including the iconic Tasmanian Devil. It was the last known habitat of the Tasmanian Tiger in the wild, and now provides a sanctuary for what could be the last of the endangered Tassie Devils.

An unchecked mining frenzy in the Tarkine could wipe out one of the largest untouched wilderness areas on the planet, turning some of the most pristine and purest waterways in the world into contaminated, undrinkable pools of poisonous mining waste, that can never fully be restored.

For a relic of Gondwana, and an ancient culture older than the pyramids, for a world in need of wild, for a hope that needs a future: let’s save the Tarkine.

Forests around the world are falling at an alarming rate. Without them, our grandchildren will not be blessed with fresh oxygen to breathe. We need to stand up for the old growth forests and ecosystems around the world before they are all gone.

No compromise in defence of mother Earth.

Special endorsement by Bob Brown, March, 2014:
“Dylan Wood's proposal to delight Australians in the big cities with the sights, sounds and scents of Tasmania's remote Tarkine coast and rainforest wilderness will do wonders for saving the threatened wilderness. When Australians got to see the Franklin River through film and photos thirty years ago, they voted to save it. The Tangible Tarkine Experience will use fabulous technology, not available back then, to bring the Tarkine alive in city squares across The nation. It is a superb idea. Please, make a special donation to this bright, Tarkine-saving idea – Dylan and his crew will do the rest!”