A Different Kind of Beauty
When the history of Tasmania's natural heritage comes to be written, the 1980's will stand out as a decade of controversy. During that time attention focussed on wilderness rivers like the Franklin and Gordon, and native wet forests such as the Lemonthyme and Southern forests. It would have been easy to miss a quieter campaign that by 1989 had achieved the preservation of a different kind of beauty in the east of the state.
The Apsley Waterhole
The area now known as Douglas-Apsley National Park was never able to present itself as a pristine wilderness. Although rugged and hard to access, it was still criss-crossed with mining tracks from the mid-1800s on. Coal was extracted from the area for over 100 years. Farmers and trappers also used parts of the area for much of that time, although loggers had only limited access.
Trappers used fire to bring on new growth and attract animals. This type of land-use favoured the drier eucalypt forest that is now so typical of the area. Eucalypts and the complex of plants associated with them are good at recovering from all but very hot fires.
As a result of its history, Douglas-Apsley is one of the few largely uncleared dry forests in Tasmania. Although superficially like other dry sclerophyll forests of the south-east mainland, the Douglas-Apsley area is virtually unique in the diversity of plants and animals that it still harbours. Here rare and endangered species, some of which are extinct elsewhere, continue in relative security in an area whose beauty is more than skin-deep. In a world of shrinking diversity, Douglas-Apsley is a beautiful exception.