Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cute animals save the day in Tasmania

Tasmanian devil. It is actually yawning after waking up

It may surprise many people, but after 4 days spent in Tasmania, our main thought is that we could have skipped it and used the time for something else. Of course the fact that we got rained on 3 days out of 4 didn't help, but that's not the main reason.
Truth is, Tasmania is a very green, pretty, wild area, and if you're only visiting Australia it's different enough from the rest to justify the jaunt. I think our problem is that we had come from spending 3 weeks in New Zealand, which is renowned because it's very green, pretty and wild... So after that Tasmania didn't really phase us ("poor little rich kid" I know).
But all is not lost. As the title says, cute cuddly animals saved the day!

We started our trip by going to Cradle Mountain, a renowned national park that is part of the UNESCO world heritage. It's wild nature at its finest.
Despite the almost-non-stop rain we did a couple of very short hikes during our days there, and got to see the famous cradle moutain peak out of the clouds, but just barely.

Quite the weather at cradle mountain

"We're lost! I don't think Gandalf meant for us to come this way" - The Lord of the Rings

The highlight of the hike though, was our encounter with a family of Kangaroos when a young one just jumped in the middle of the trail in front of us, and then sat there for a little while. It was our first time meeting one of these wild animals and it definitely brightened the day.

Someone needs to teach those Wombats some manners

Since most of the wildlife comes out at dusk, we also went for a walk around our cabin towards the end of the day, and ran into many more kangaroos there. The interesting part is that, even though we went for a walk into the forest to find them, we invariable ran into them close to other human abodes. On our walk back to our cabin, we discovered a wild quoll running around, and the next day, a cute baby kangaroo just off the balcony. We didn't even have to get out to find them!

From there we drove all the way back to Port Arthur to visit a piece of Australian history. A former penitenciary where British prisoners where being sent to serve time with hard labor. It definitely wasn't a vacation for them, as we learned while touring it. It's located on an isthmus, and the prisoners were shipped in. Even though it had no walls, they had very little chance of escaping as it was surrounded on 3 sides with sheer cliffs dropping into water and they had no idea which way the land was. They had jobs that ranged from boat building, to brick making, to gardnening, to tree harvesting to household servants. They were sent there to pay their debt to society, and even though they may not have had a life sentence on the penitentiary, they had a life sentence away from their families in England as they would have very little opportunity to return to the mainland with no money after serving time. It was eventually deemed as cruel and shuttered, and is now an interesting place to see a part of Australian history.

Next door to the penitentiary was the Tasmanian Devil conservation center. I was really curious to see the Tasmanian Devil (Looney Tunes!) and we weren't disappointed by our visit to the center. These little guys were not photo shy and came close as we were hanging out by their pen. We first ran into baby devils and desptite their names they are quite cute animals.

Quolls we got to see along the way too

The brother of the one we saw by our bungalow at night

A few minutes later we got to witness the feeding of two adults, a male and a female. They were sleeping when we arrived, but once the food was there it was every Devil for himself as they fought for the scraps of meat of their meal. It was quite entertaining to see the male eat everything he'd found and try to steal the rest from the female.

The calm before the storm

As a bonus the place also had a pen full of kangaroos. The awesome part is that you can walk in and hang out with them. As you can see on the photos, they were not put off by our presence and pretty much laid around as if we weren't there. It was really cool to walk among them!

Not at all interested in giving Denise a high five

Finally the place also had a bird show where we got to witness different kind of birds in action, including a falcon that flew between our legs. Definitely tickled the kid in me.

Frogmouth bird

Peregrine falcon, the fastest animal alive, except this one who lost his left wing when hitting a power line

On our drive back we also stopped at a couple interesting places along the coast that very much reminded us of some elements of the Great Ocean road.

And that was it! After 4 days we were ready to go back, a little disappointed by the national park but defintely enthralled by the animals!

See the rest of the photos there, or directly on a map.

View Australia - Tasmania in a larger map

1 comment:

  1. Hey beautiful people!
    I just spent an enjoyable I-don't-know-how-long catching up on your blog, since I've mostly forgotten to look at it since you left. Wonderful! Thanks for taking the time to put all this up for your fans. Hope Bali is treating you well so far. We miss you in SF!