Gordonvale Reserve

Protected 2013


This 81 hectare property is completely surrounded by the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, and is included within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Formed thousands of years ago during Pleistocene times, the area is the traditional home territory of the Pangerninghe clan of the Big River nation.

Nestled in a large glacial valley known as the Vale of Rasselas, Gordonvale Reserve is anchored in alluvial sands, gravel and mud from which terraces rise to an elevated forest platform. The area boasts spectacular scenery, including the peaks of Great Dome and Wylds Craig, and opens up to wide, undulating buttongrass plains, riparian vegetation, scrub and forest which is home to Tasmania’s magnificent wildlife, including the nationally endangered Tasmanian devil and the threatened ground parrot. Small pools are scattered throughout, teeming with frogs and other aquatic life.

The forests here are dominated by old-growth gum-top stringybark trees (Eucalyptus delegatensis), growing on a south-facing slope protected from fire as well as along the shores of a little creek running through the property. Below these large trees, full of hollows that make homes for birds and mammals, visitors can wander through a dense rainforest of Tasmanian myrtle (Nothofagus cunninghamii), sweet-smelling sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum), tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) and celery-top pines (Phyllocladus aspleniifolius), found nowhere but Tasmania. Despite the decades of small-scale white settlement here, the forest is almost untouched. There is only one small clearing – now a beautiful soft lawn maintained by marsupials – where Ernie Bond’s homestead, outbuildings and farm once stood.

The landscape around the reserve is a world centre of diversity for velvet worms, amphipods and crustaceans, including the 250-million-year-old mountain shrimp Anaspides tasmaniae and the rare Hickman’s pygmy mountain shrimp Allanaspides hickmani.

Gordonvale Reserve. Photo by Rob Blakers


Accessible only by a long bush walk through remote and difficult terrain, until recently Gordonvale Reserve has been very isolated and consequently required minimal management. Maintenance has focused on removal of weed species and maintenance of historic plantings that do not threaten the natural values of the property. Recently, visitor numbers have increased, so we are keeping an eye on things to ensure low impact on the natural or heritage conservation values.

Settlement remnants at Gordonvale Reserve. Photo: Rob Blakers


Gordonvale is known to many as the ‘bushwalkers rest’. For 18 years, up until the late 1950s, it was the isolated home of a legendary Tasmanian, Ernie Bond, known as the ‘Prince of Rasselas’. Ernie developed Gordonvale into a thriving little settlement and became renowned for his hospitality to bushwalkers, serving them wallaby stew, homegrown vegetables and home brew.

The remnants of his homestead have now disintegrated, slowly reclaimed by nature, except for stone foundations and scattered farm implements. This unique history qualifies the property for registration in the Tasmanian Historic Archaeological Sites Catalogue.

’I support what the TLC is doing and I’m glad that a special place like Gordonvale is being protected and cared for so that future Tasmanians can experience it.’ – Andrew Bond, great nephew of Ernie Bond

Banner photograph: Rob Blakers