Cradle Mountain Day 1 – First Impressions

I recently went on an amazing holiday to the beautiful wilderness area of Cradle Mountain, Tasmania. This region is well known around the world for its stunning scenery and famous walking tracks and is one of Australia’s most visited places, by overseas tourists and Australians alike. This was my first ever trip to Cradle Mountain.

Red marker shows location of Cradle Mountain

I spent 6 glorious days at Cradle Mountain and would have loved to have stayed longer. I booked into “The Bushman’s Hut” at Highlanders Cottages and I was spoiled for friendly customer service, gorgeous scenery, wildlife at my cabin door, and a perfect location to easily catch the shuttle bus to get to and from the walks.

Small on the outside but big on the inside.
View from the cabin’s veranda.

I packed a fair bit in on my first day. It was a 3 hour coach journey to get there from Launceston, then once I settled into the cabin and unpacked, it was off to the Visitor Centre after a quick lunch to get my shuttle bus pass for the week and to start exploring. My first stop was the Ranger Station and Interpretation Centre, where you can walk around static displays about the walks, wildlife and history of the area. There was even a small theatre inside playing short films.

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Outside the Ranger Station, I spied a black currawong and finally discovered what was making that very strange noise I had been hearing since arriving.

My first walk was the Pencil Pine Falls Walking Track, a very short walk of only 500m but quite enjoyable with lots of nice green trees. Of course it took me longer to walk all the tracks during my stay as I kept stopping to taking photographs and observe animals and watch for new birds I had yet to discover!

Just a short walk away was another track called the Enchanted Walk, about a kilometre long and was exactly as its name implied – enchanting!

Afterwards I went back to the cabin and shortly thereafter I found this cutie at my door!

Pademelon

My friends at work had given me advance notice that there would be friendly and hungry pademelons around the cabins so I came prepared with a few apples. It turned out that every afternoon around the same time, there would be a few pademelons looking for a handout. I’m afraid they were too adorable to resist!

It was wonderful to get up so close to a pademelon, I think they are beautiful animals. I have only seen them at the local wetlands on my walks back home and certainly never get this close to one.

To finish off the day, right on dusk, I joined a small group of half a dozen people for a night tour of wildlife spotting. The tour lasted for around 2 hours and included animal spotting from the bus as well as a 20 minute walk around on a boardwalk to see what we could find.

Wombat spotted at Ronny Creek

This was exciting for me as I had never seen a wombat in the wild before. We ended up seeing at least 6 wombats that night along the boardwalk, a few of them quite close to the track. Our driver and guide, James, was great with his commentary and was quite informative and entertaining.

I was also stoked to spot this beautiful Bennett’s wallaby from the bus!

As well as spotting a few more wombats, pademelons, and another Bennett’s wallaby from the bus, we spied a number of brushtail possums, a few had joeys on their back, so cute! I caught this possum heading into the bush as it started snowing!

On the trip back to the various accommodations where the group members were staying, there were several snow flurries which was exciting for me, never having seen snow fall before.

This next video is a view from the bus with a sighting of a pademelon and some interesting information about them from our driver James.

What a first day at Cradle Mountain! Gorgeous mossy green forest walks, wildlife at my door, my first wild wombat sighting, and even a tantalising look at a bit of snow! I was filled with happiness and excitement at what the coming days would bring.

Keep an eye out for my next post to find out what furry creatures I encounter on my second day!

Random Photos

I recently purchased a new camera, a bridge camera, and I’m really happy with the results I’ve been getting so far, especially as it is more advanced than cameras I’ve used before. So here are some random shots I’ve taken.

Looking up at paperbark trees
Female superb fairy wren – with an attitude!
A male superb fairy wren proving that the early bird does indeed get the worm!
A blackbird – perhaps with a broken beak. Just as he flew off ……
Another one took his place!
Black swans in flight
A silver gull having a sit down
Eurasian coots making a beeline for me!
Random ducks
A peaceful country setting by the river (zoom from my house)
Look Mum – I can walk on water!
Ducks in flight

Black swans are always beautiful to watch.

In a week’s time I am going away on holiday to Cradle Mountain and I’m hoping to get some great photos with my new camera of the wilderness and wildlife there. My work friends have guaranteed I will see plenty of pademelons and wombats! It might even snow!! 🙂

 

Interrupting Breakfast

This pademelon was so engrossed in having breakfast the other morning that I was able to get up nice and close and get a decent photo before he/she noticed me and hopped away.

I often see these lovely animals on my walks at the local wetlands in the early morning or late evening.

A few interesting facts about the pademelon 

Common Name: Tasmanian pademelon (say it as “paddy-melon”)

Also Known As: Rufous wallaby

Scientific Name: Thylogale billardierii

Location: Tasmania, Australia

Habitat: Rainforest, wet sclerophyll forest

Diet: Herbs, green shoots, short grass

Predators: Tasmanian devils, spotted-tailed quolls, wedge-tailed eagles

Breeding: No specific breeding season however 70% of joeys are born in early winter; young stay in the pouch for 6 months and mature at 15 months; life span 5-6 years

 

A Day With Seahorses, Platypuses and Echidnas

I recently went out to a lovely spot called Beauty Point about 40 minutes drive from Launceston in Tasmania and visited Seahorse World and Platypus House.

Seahorse World was quite interesting and had plenty of seahorses to watch and discover.

There were a number of tanks full of baby seahorses. These were only a few centimetres big.

This is a White’s Seahorse, found in Sydney in Australia.

Here are two expectant fathers.

Here are some Pot Bellied Seahorses being fed brine shrimp.

This is the beautiful Weedy Sea Dragon.

Recently it was news headlines when Seahorse World announced a rare feat – a successful transfer of eggs from the female to the male. This has only been accomplished in captivity a handful of times.

Right next door to Seahorse World is Platypus House.

After a short video on platypuses and an introduction on the animal, we went into a room with a big tank where we got to watch Jupiter, the only male platypus there. He is 11 years old.  The guide fed him some food, including a yabby. Here is a video of Jupiter feeding and swimming around.

We were then ushered into another room where there were 3 tanks, each having a female platypus. The guide fed all three so we could watch the platypus feed and swim around. Here is a video of a female called Poppy.

I could watch her all day, it was so relaxing.

The last leg of the tour was a visit to the Echidna Garden, where three echidnas roamed the garden amongst our feet. What a treat!

Here is a video of an echidna eating. Check out their long pink tongue!

Here is a cute moment with the guide.

And here is a video of the echidnas wandering around among us.

This was a great day out and I recommend a visit to Seahorse World and Platypus House if you ever visit Tasmania. It gives you the opportunity to view some unique animals up close and learn about them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer’s Day Low Tide At The Wetlands

On a bright sunny summer’s day recently, I decided to try my luck birdwatching at Tamar Island Wetlands. I wasn’t expecting to see too much in the way of wildlife as it was quite a warm day and early afternoon with a low tide. I thought the majority of the birds would be hiding away in some shade somewhere, but I was quite surprised by what I found.

Low tide at Tamar Island Wetlands
Several great egrets and a cormorant hanging out together
Chestnut teal having a quiet midday snooze
Grey teals snoozing nearby
Another image of low tide at Tamar Island Wetlands
A variety of birds in one spot – black swans, great egrets, chestnut teals, grey teals and a masked lapwing
A young Australasian swamphen, the parent was close by.
A pair of geese foraging.
Cracked dried mud
A muddy beaked masked lapwing (plover)
A lovely cool and shady spot next to the bird hide
A grey teal with something to say
One of the lovely views from the boardwalk.
White faced herons.
A pair of chestnut teals.
Mother swan with her growing babies
Another view of the wetlands

If you ever find yourself in the Launceston area, it’s worth a trip out to the Tamar Island Wetlands as you can see all kinds of birds anytime of the day and the views are beautiful.

 

 

Wildlife Spottings At The Wetlands

Now that daylight savings has started, I have decided to go for a walk almost everyday at the local wetlands. I find that walking helps to unwind from a day’s work and it feels good to get out in the fresh air. Also, it is good exercise and great for the mind and spirit, and it’s even nice to say hello to regular walkers and joggers or stop and have a chat with someone taking photos of the birds.

Here are some of the gems I have spotted on my walks at Tamar Island Wetlands.

Surprisingly, I have seen a small number of geese. These are likely domesticated escapees from people’s homes around the area. I have spotted 2 pairs but only one had these little golden cuties.

Sadly, none of the goslings have survived.

A plentiful bird at the wetlands is the black swan. I have identified 5 different families so far, all with babies of varying ages. It’s been nice to watch the little balls of fluff growing up. Here is one family.

And look at this adorable scene!

If I go walking early in the morning or late in the evening, I am usually lucky enough to see one of these lovely creatures – a pademelon!

In a previous post, I shared a photo of a Native Hen (or turbo chook) with half a dozen chicks that I came across in the car park. Sadly, there is only one chick left. Look how its grown!

Lately I have seen several Great Egrets fishing in the river. This one was fascinating to watch as it went after some food.

There was even a snake having a snooze by the boardwalk. Funnily enough, it was conveniently sleeping only 2 metres away from the snake warning sign so I knew it was a copperhead!

I was even lucky enough to see two Australasian Swamphen chicks up close. Aren’t they cute!

And finally, this is a video I took one afternoon of the 360 degree view from the end of the boardwalk at the Tamar River. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s a magnificent view and well worth the walk. 🙂

What little gems of nature do you see on your daily walks?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Visit To Tamar Island Wetlands

Just 10 minutes drive out of Launceston in Tasmania is the Tamar Island Wetlands.  I was looking forward to a nice day out birdwatching, however, it turned out to be an extremely cold morning and with only a little sunshine that was very weak so I didn’t stay as long as I had planned.

Sign near the entrance to the wetlands
A great cormorant sunning itself with rather cold looking groups of various ducks
A section of the boardwalk
A black swan foraging
Looking back to the Information Centre
Australian Shelduck
A bird’s eye view for these Australasian swamphens
Australasian swamphen
Swamp paperbark trees along the path to the bird hide
Bird hide
My first sighting of a wild Tamar wallaby. We surprised each other as I came out of the bird hide!
This swamphen was showing me the way!
Morning low tide looking back to the suburb of Riverside
Masked lapwing (plover)
White faced heron
Grey teals trying to keep warm in the cold
Further along the path, looking across the Tamar River on the left and the suburb of Riverside on the right
Great egret and a swamphen
Chestnut teals and grey teals trying to warm up in the early morning sun
More birds trying to keep warm. Who can blame them when it was only 6 degrees!
Grey teal

 

Female superb fairy wren
At this point I turned back as it was too cold for me. But I’ll be better prepared on my next visit.

The Tamar Island Wetlands is a great place to visit, whether it just be for a nice scenic walk or to try your hand at birdwatching. Entry fee is a few dollars donation and is definitely worth the small admission cost. Don’t forget to drop into the Information Centre there and chat to the friendly and helpful volunteers.

I can’t wait to visit again and see what wildlife I find! 🙂

Watching Devils At Tasmania Zoo

About a 25 minute scenic drive out of Launceston in Tasmania you will find Tasmania Zoo. The day I visited, it was a very cold winter’s morning, and most of the animals seemed to be hidden away sleeping and waiting out the cold. But there was plenty of action and entertainment from the six Tasmanian devils at the zoo.

For those who aren’t aware, Tasmanian devils are a native Australian animal and are endemic to Tasmania. They are critically endangered because of the terrible and fatal Devil Facial Tumour Disease. For more details about this amazing species and its struggle to survive click here to read one of my earlier posts.

First up, here are some photos of the devils enjoying some winter warmth in the sunshine.

At one point two devils had something to say to each other.

Having a scratch

What a cutie!
What a face!
I smell food!
Where’s the food already!

One of the animal keepers turned up with a big bucket of pieces of wallaby for the devils to eat. Watching tassie devils eat is quite an experience. It’s noisy and looks violent at times, but they all work together tugging at the food to help break it up making it easier to eat. And they eat everything – fur and bones included!

I love the keeper’s tassie devil hat!

The hopping or jumping thing the devils do in this video is something I’ve never seen before, it was so funny. And that little opportunistic devil at the end of the video was quite devillish! 😀

It wasn’t too long before all the food had been eaten. One of the devils came up to the keeper for cuddles and we were able to have a quick pat of the devil while she was occupied playfully chewing on the keeper’s hand. Then she was put on the ground but she wanted some more attention!

Tasmanian devils are such fascinating creatures, I could watch them all day!

If you love devils as much as I do, why not consider joining the Tasmanian Devil Network? I’m the administrator of the group on Facebook and would love to have you on board. Click here to join or click here to find out more.