Tiger tales for tourists

Since the last identified member of the species was shot in the north west district of the State in 1931, controversy has surrounded the supposed extinction of the thylacine, better known as the Tasmanian Tiger. Now visitors are being enticed to the region to share in the mystery by exploring the Tasmanian Tiger Trail courtesy of Waratah Wynyard Council and a group of local enthusiasts.

Council's Community Development Officer, Richard Muir Wilson, said the question of the tiger's existence is of enormous interest to visitors. In fact he claims intrigue over the tiger has potentially more tourist appeal than many other famous Tasmanian assets, including Cradle Mountain and Richmond Bridge. "Almost everyone around here has a story about the tiger," he said. "It is a source of fascination to locals and visitors alike."

Originally developed as a community arts project, with the commissioning of a tiger sculpture, the concept of the Tiger Trail evolved as those involved recognised its tourism potential. The opportunity was taken to link local lore and a tourism route based on sightings of the legendary marsupial.

Oral history accounts of the tiger and tiger sightings from 10 local people have been included on a cassette recording which visitors can play in their cars as they travel the Trail. An accompanying booklet provides further detail.

Among the story tellers is one 80 year old woman who, from her childhood days, can remember her father returning home with a captured tiger. Richard Muir Wilson said listening to the stories told by local people in their own words while travelling through the very areas they are describing can be a powerful experience.

It also provides visitors with added insight into the district, its history and development. Richard said the Trail is an ongoing project with improvements continually being made. Currently signage is being improved to augment the Trail.

Council has further plans to capitalise on interest in the tiger, registering the name 'Tiger Country' as a local promotional strategy. It is also looking at ways to incorporate the tiger into a logo which can then be used on stationary and other items used by local businesses adding to local identification with the mystery.

For further information contact Richard Muir-Wilson telephone (03) 6442 0333.