Panatana Reserve

Protected 2016


Panatana Reserve was acquired through a collaboration between the ILSC and the TLC, with TLC funding one title and ILSC funding the other two titles, which were then leased to Six Rivers in 2015. David Gough, a Director of Six Rivers, had been running cultural tours on panatana prior to its purchase by ILSC. The property is now managed by Six Rivers and the TLC in partnership and is used for camps where participants learn about Aboriginal culture and visit living sites.


Panatana was the home to families of the ‘North tribe’ of Tasmanian Aborigines for over 10,000 years, until white colonisation of the area and settlers’ desire for sheep grazing led to open hostilities between the North tribe and 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.


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

Listen to this symphony of sound tell the story of the many birds that make their homes in Panatana’s forests and woodlands.