Waterfalls - Robert Downie
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Surprise River

Surprise River

The Franklin river and its tributaries are perhaps one of the few truly wild places left in the world. Seen here is actually the Surprise River a few hundred metres before it joins the Franklin. The orange colour in the river, which contrasts so dramatically with the green of the rainforest, is from tannins resulting from the decay of organic material in the forest.

The scene of Australia’s largest conservation battle, the Franklin river was saved from a proposed hydro-electric power scheme which would have flooded large sections of the Franklin and Gordon river systems. Known to history as the Franklin River Blockade, and organised by the Tasmanian Wilderness Society under the leadership of Bob Brown, it commenced on the 14 December 1982, the day the Western Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area was listed. A total of 2613 people participated in the campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience and protesters chained themselves to gates and formed blockades in rubber duckies at Warners Landing. Numerous boat loads were arrested, and the campaign continued throughout the summer of 1982-3 resulting in the arrest of 1272 people. Bob Brown, who would later found and lead the Australian Greens party, was imprisoned for three weeks, and many people, including internationally renowned botanist, David Bellamy, were remanded in custody. Federal intervention, and subsequent high court rulings after the state government challenge, eventually stopped the construction. Compensation of $276 million was paid to the state, a much lower figure than the $500 million initially offered by the federal government prior to the legal battle.

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which covers approximately 1,584,000 hectares (3,914,149 acres), or 20% of the state of Tasmania, represents one of the last true forested wilderness regions on Earth. The rugged terrain experienced severe glaciation during the last ice ages and is littered with steep gorges and craggy peaks. Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Tasmania, Australia