The establishment of Panatana Reserve is a ground breaking partnership that protects Aboriginal cultural heritage and important natural values.
Natural values and context
Panatana is located on the eastern shore of the Rubicon Estuary, close to the waters of Bass Strait and neighouring Narawntapu National Park. The sheltered estuarine shores of Panatana, characterised by its impressive stands of the endangered swamp paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia) forest, provide the connection between aquatic and terrestrial habitats. These give way to healthy coastal forests and woodlands of black peppermint (Eucalyptus amygdalina), as well as swamp gums (Eucalyptus ovata) which fringe the intricate wetlands dotted across Panatana.
This complex and diverse environment ranges from the lofty eucalypts to subtle coral and lichens and liverworts, and delicate fungi in a spectrum of colours. Panatana is home to an abundance of woodland birds, especially the exquisite painted button quail. Other specialists include robins, honeyeaters and cuckoos like the shining bronze, with wedge-tailed eagles and other raptors flying overhead.
This suite of birds is joined by mammals, reptiles, frogs, and an array of butterflies, robber beetles, damselflies and jewel beetles.
From the ground to the sky there is life at every level at Panatana.
…an important corridor for the birds that move between wet forest breeding habitats to the warmer coastal regions where they spend the winter. Signs of top-order predators - Tasmanian devil scats and a wedge-tailed eagle soaring overhead - indicate a productive, intact functioning ecosystem.
Sarah Lloyd, naturalist, writer and photographer
Panatana was the home to families of the ‘North tribe’ of Tasmanian Aboriginies for over 10,000 years before the desire for sheep grazing led to open hostilities with stock-keepers and local officials in the 1820s. The original owners died in exile at Wybalena on Flinders Island.
The abundance of tea tree of Panatana was used for making spears and as torches. Fire was used to keep open the tracks for hunting kangaroo. Cutting and pounding instruments were fashioned from local rock and traded with neighbours. In early spring, groups of the North nation converged on Panatana with its estuarine bounty of the eggs of swan, duck and other waterbirds.
Panatana has retained its stories of lives past. The land reveals an estuarine lifestyle replete with shellfish and vegetables. There was a healthy trade with a neighbouring nations in foodstuffs, minerals and shells for necklace making.
Trade resulted in North nation people speaking three separate languages. The prize possession of the area was red ochre from nearby mountain ranges. Its many uses include hair dye, for men only.
Panatana retains many tangible expressions of Aboriginal cultural heritage revealing lives sustained by the land over countless generations.
The Tasmanian Land Conservancy and the Indigenous Land Corporation have collaborated to purchase Panatana, and share the management of the cultural and natural values.