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Upgraded Julius River bridges improve visitor access


Bridge upgrades at the Julius River Regional Reserve are now complete.More

Viewing platform upgrades for Rocky Cape's Aboriginal heritage sites


Two viewing platforms have been replaced as part of visitor facility improvements at Rocky Cape National Park on the North-West Coast. The platforms are at the Lee Archer Cave and South Cave sites, which have highly significant Aboriginal heritage values.More

Urban focus for World Wetlands Day


'Wetlands for a sustainable future' is the theme for World Wetlands Day 2018. This international celebration of the significance of wetland environments is held annually on 2 February.More

World Heritage Values

Historic Heritage

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (WHA) is recognised for its natural and Aboriginal cultural values. However the area also includes the earliest of Tasmania's penal settlements -- Macquarie Harbour Historic Site. The site is an outstanding example of one of the most significant features of world population movement in the 18th and 19th centuries -- the transportation of convicts. Sarah Island and the surrounding region of Macquarie Harbour were used for a penal settlement from 1822-1833.

Convict industry

Sarah Island convict ruins

Convict ruins on Sarah Island
(Photography by Steve Johnson)

The Macquarie Harbour penal settlement was not just a "place of banishment and security for the worst description of convicts". The settlement, like all penal establishments of its day, was expected to recover much of its cost through industry. Although the settlement never quite achieved this aim, it did produce an enormous number of saleable items for the newly-founded colony. Convicts were engaged in various forms of labour including pining, carpentry, brickmaking, shoemaking tailoring and tanning.

Shipbuilding was a major industry on Sarah Island. During the latter years of the settlement, this small island was one of the largest shipbuilding yards in the southern hemisphere. During the life of the settlement a total of 113 vessels were constructed, 80 of them in the period 1828-1832.


Working in the wilderness

Ducane hut

Ducane hut, along the Overland Track
(Photography by Steve Johnson)

The WHA also contains a variety of historic remains which portray the wide range of activities carried out by the early non-Aboriginal settlers of Tasmania. Such sites include trappers' huts, mines, tracks, tramways and long-abandoned settlements such as Adamsfield and Pillinger.

Piners, prospectors and trappers extracted the resources of the region. The historic remains that act as a testimony to their activities and lifestyles reveal a legacy of human interaction with the land and force us to reconsider what we mean by the term "wilderness".