The Tamar Island Wetlands reserve is approximately 60 hectares of mud flats, lagoons and islands. The seven hectare Tamar Island rises to approximately 20 metres above sea level, affording an excellent view of the surrounding landscape.
Early in the 1800s the West Tamar region was developed and cleared for farmland. Convict labour was used to drain the wetlands along the foreshore and levee banks were built to keep tidal waters back from reclaimed pasture and cropping land. Inter-connecting drainage channels were dug so that any excess water collecting in the low-lying paddocks could be drained into the main estuary channel.
In the 1950s farming along the western section of the upper Tamar Estuary virtually ceased and the levee banks began to fall into disrepair. Gradually the Estuary is reclaiming its original wetlands and native flora and fauna species are moving back and recolonising the former farmland.
The wreck of the dredge, Platypus
(Photography by Julie Nermut)
Silting of the main channel in the Tamar Estuary has been a problem for shipping for nearly two centuries. In an effort to increase the flow of water in the main channel approximately 14 vessels, mainly barges, were sunk between Tamar Island and the foreshore from 1926 to 1971. The idea was to increase the water flow through the main section of the estuary, which would help to scour the channel. Some of the remaining wrecks can still be seen today, including the bucket dredge, Playtpus.
Further details of the history of the region are available for download as a PDF [22KB].
Ecology of the Tamar River Conservation Area
The Tamar River Conservation Area is part of an estuarine wetland. Such wetlands are important habitats for a wide diversity of plant and animal life.
The Tamar estuary is fed by the largest catchment in Tasmania and, at 70km, is the longest estuary in Australia. It is an important residential and recreational resource for many Tasmanians. It also remains the stronghold for one of Tasmania's poorly reserved vegetation communities - coastal paperbark forest.
Further details of the ecology of the Tamar River Conservation Area are available for download as a PDF[17KB].
Tamar Island Wetlands Interpretation
Centre (Photography by Geoff Lea)
Fauna and Flora
Tamar Island Wetlands have a wide range of plants, birds, reptiles, frogs, fish and invertebrates including a number of threatened species. Of course, all plants and animals within the reserve are protected, and no plant or animal samples should be taken from the Conservation Area.
Visitors are also alerted to the wetlands having been invaded by some plant and animal species, which have become invasive and are threatening the native species. It is therefore particularly important that no water be transferred between lagoons, channels or estuary waters. This is a particularly high risk method of transferring seed, eggs and live animals from one place to another, thereby enabling any pest species to spread further through the wetlands.
A prominent threat in the wetlands is from the pest fish Gambusia holbrooki.
They were introduced into Tasmania in 1992 in the hope they would eat mosquito larvae but unfortunately, they eat less mosquito larvae than native fish do. They compete strongly for food and habitat with native fish as they breed up in the millions, have huge appetites and eat almost everything including frog and fish eggs.
Gambusia are also highly aggressive, nipping the fins of larger fish and the tails of tadpoles. This behaviour impacts heavily on the vulnerable green and gold frog. Once established, Gambusia are extremely difficult to eradicate.
Further details of the fauna and flora of the region are available for download as a PDF [35KB].