Wings Wildlife Park is located at Gunns Plains near Ulverstone in Tasmania. The family owned park has been in the Wing family for many generations and operates solely on donations and money generated by visitors to the park. There are more than 150 different animals at the wildlife sanctuary and it is the only place in Tasmania where you can see American bison. The park also has the largest collection of Tasmanian wildlife in Australia.
You can buy feed to hand feed the kangaroos and wallabies (highly recommended!) as well as food to feed the fish (they have ponds with trout). They have wildlife presentations throughout the day as well as animal encounter experiences. You can even stay overnight at one of the cottages at the park or stay at their campsite. And their cafe has fantastic restaurant quality meals and quick and easy snack food and include gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options.
A lot of the Australian animals at the park are animals that have been brought in injured or ill and are undergoing recovery or rehabilitation and will be released back into the wild. Sadly, some animals have conditions that will not enable them to survive in the wild and so will spend the rest of their days at the wildlife park.
Here are some of the non Australian animals we saw at the park.
First up were the couple of ostriches, including two albino ones!
One ostrich was happy one moment –
And angry the next!
Some other exotic animals included bison, buffalo, camels and Scottish Highland cattle, but they were happy lazing around at the far end of the paddock.
Now onto the Aussie animals. There were so many animals, I have only decided to include a small number here.
Tasmanian devils are critically endangered because of a deadly facial cancer tumour disease.
There were several quolls there too.
There were a number of emus there, including this one who seemed to like having his picture taken.
In the nocturnal house we saw sugar gliders, and I filmed this funny little incident between two sugar gliders. I’m sure you’ll get a laugh out of the ending. 😄
We also saw three albino magpies, and after enquiring with one of the keepers there, discovered that albino magpies can’t survive in the wild because they get picked on by the other magpies and end up with injuries and also become malnourished. These birds were brought in to the sanctuary individually in a bad way but now have a better and healthier life. So unfortunately for these three guys, they are permanent residents at the wildlife park.
Below is Edward who liked a scratch on the head.
And these two magpies seemed to be in unison!
There was also a swamp harrier who was interesting to see up so close. I would see these birds fly overhead looking for prey when I used to go walking at the Tamar Island Wetlands.
Make sure when you visit the park to buy some feed for the kangaroos, it was such a fun experience hand feeding them and being able to pat them. They have the grey forester kangaroos as well as wallabies and even some albino ones.
And lastly, they had a number of very cute long nosed potoroos!
Hope you enjoyed my photos of the animals and be sure to visit Wings Wildlife Park if you’re in north west Tassie, you’ll have the best time!
Preston Falls is located south of Ulverstone, Tasmania just down the road from Wings Wildlife Park (check next week’s post about my visit to the wildlife park! 😀).
A short and well maintained track leads you through blackwood forest, across Preston Creek, over the top of the waterfall, and around to a lookout.
While there, we saw several tiny birds at the top of the trees. I can’t work out what they are, so if you can recognise them from this video, please let me know. I couldn’t get any photos of them as they were too quick, and the video is a bit shaky as it was on zoom and I was looking straight up into the trees.
The confusing thing about this waterfall is its name. It’s signed as Preston Falls but known locally as Delaneys Falls. Sometimes it’s also called Upper Preston Falls. Whatever its name, it’s a nice waterfall and easily accessible, so it’s definitely worth a look if you’re in the area.
Located at Eugenana, just south of Devonport in Tasmania, is the Tasmanian Arboretum – a vast collection of trees situated in a peaceful and picturesque landscape.
The arboretum site was originally farmland and was turned into a botanical park in 1984, expanding over the years so that it now includes 66 ha (163 acres).
There are over 5,000 trees and more than 1,500 different species, including some endangered ones.
The park is divided into different sections featuring the trees from the different continents of the world and also has a special area dedicated to Tasmanian trees.
There was even a small section devoted to lichen.
You can wander around at your leisure following all the different trails and experience the trees from different countries and enjoy the serenity of the lake.
Looking at the lake from inside the bird hide –
It had been raining a lot in the week before we visited and we discovered lots of colourful mushrooms and toadstools amongst the trees.
There is also a variety of wildlife that can be spotted in the park.
Numerous species of birds have been sighted all year round. We saw black swans, Tasmanian native hens, pacific black ducks, shellducks, little pied cormorant, eurasian coots, blackbirds, forest ravens, green rosellas, superb fairy wrens and several other little birds flitting about in the trees that were hard to identify. Early on we came across this bird running around leaf litter –
That is a bassian thrush and my first sighting of one!
You can also spot pademelons, Bennetts wallabies, possums, potoroos, bettongs, and occasionally a Tasmanian devil and echidna.
However the park is well known for its regular sightings of platypus which can be seen any time of day!
We missed seeing the autumn colours on display at the park when we went, but it’s such a big place to explore and will beckon me for future visits I’m sure.
Tasmania’s alkaloid poppy farms are an important industry for the state. There are around 450 poppy farmers in Tasmania and each acre of alkaloid poppies brings in several thousand dollars making it a highly valued crop and a highly regulated industry.
Growing these poppies is ideal in Tasmania because of the rich soil, reliable rain and long hours of sunlight. And from a security point of view, Tasmania being an island state plays a vital part in safety regulation.
Tasmanian poppies are extremely toxic, they have been genetically engineered to produce chemicals for industrial processing. This is why the poppy farms are well fenced, signed with warnings, and regularly monitored.
Using any part of the poppy in any way is harmful to humans and can cause death. Several people have died from ingesting these poppies, usually from drinking a tea brewed with dried poppies that were stolen from a farm.
These alkaloid poppy flowers are grown to extract an alkaloid for pharmaceutical use, and include morphine and codeine as well as oripavine which is used to treat heroin overdoses. Tasmania is the world’s largest producer of licit alkaloid material, supplying half of the world’s demand.
Poppy seeds are sown between July and October with the plants growing between July and February. It is during the months of summer (December to February) you are able to see huge fields of these white flowers around the state. Then from January to early March harvesting takes place once the flowers have died off and the poppy heads have dried. The dried plants are then processed into a crude extract which is then transported to manufacturing facilities where the opioid alkaloids are turned into active pharmaceutical ingredients which are then formulated into painkiller medication.
Tasmania’s poppy – a pretty flower with an important purpose!
Bar tailed godwits are a large wader who arrive in Australia in August each year after having traveled from the northern hemisphere. They settle along the east coast of Australia and can be seen at coastal estuaries, beaches and mudflats.
They will leave Australia during April and May to return to their breeding grounds in Alaska and Scandinavia. The bar tailed godwit undertakes the longest non stop migration of any bird, taking 7 or more days to fly without a stop over and their wings are flapping constantly, 24 hours a day!
Here are some interesting facts about bar tailed godwits –
They can live for 30 years
They eat aquatic insects, molluscs, worms, and berries
Their top flight speed is about 60km/h
They are social birds and are often seen hanging out with other shorebirds
A group of bar tailed godwits is called an omniscience, a pantheon, or a prayer
These birds are special to me because my very first sighting of a bar tailed godwit is what got me into birdwatching many years ago. At the age of 14, I was on holidays with my family at Jervis Bay on the south coast of New South Wales, and one day I spied some strange looking birds feeding along the beach at low tide. I remember asking my Dad what they were and he told me he thought they were a godwit. I remember thinking it was a funny name for a bird and thought he was joking, as my Dad often enjoyed tricking me with things like that. So for the time we were there on holidays, I borrowed my Dad’s binoculars and spent ages watching these birds from the beach front house we were staying in. For Christmas that year, my Dad bought me a small paperback book on identifying Australian birds (and therefore proved that my Dad was telling the truth about them being a godwit!) and also my very own pair of binoculars (which I still have today!). And that’s where it all began 40 years ago!
Rubicon Reserve is a small lot of bush land which can be found at the northern end of Freers Beach next to the surf club at Shearwater, Tasmania.
Dirt trails meander their way around the area among coastal native trees and shrubs.
If you venture through the bush here early in the morning or of an evening, you are sure to see some pademelons out for their grassy meal and hear them bounding through the scrub off in the distance as you approach. You may even see some bunnies. Once I spotted a bandicoot!
But if you take careful note as you wander through this parcel of land, you will start to see fairy doors on the trees.
These miniature doors are set onto trees with the idea being that people can leave notes and gifts for the fairies that live there. I don’t know who put these doors up, or when, as I can’t find any information about this reserve, so it was just nice to enjoy the scenery as I followed the paths, wondering if perhaps I was being watched by more than just the pademelons!
Most of the fairy doors can be sighted from the trail, but I came upon two that were hidden away, so have a good look around if you’re visiting.
Have you seen fairy doors in your local park or reserve?
Freers Beach is located at Shearwater, Tasmania. It’s a long, wide sheltered beach with shallow waters perfect for paddling, and dogs love it too. The water is clear and usually calm and at low tide the water goes way, way out. You can even walk across to some little islands and seawalls.
The area is popular for many water sports and there is a surf club that has an outdoor exercise/gym station and playground. There is a shared pathway for walkers, runners, cyclists and dog walkers that goes along the foreshore from the surf club all the way to the boat ramp, about 2km one way. It’s a scenic walk with occasional bench seats for you to take a moment to enjoy the views.
Usually in the early mornings or in the evenings, you can spot pademelons and rabbits, and there are various birds to see too – silver gulls, pacific gulls, masked winged plovers, galahs, blue wrens, blackbirds, sparrows, little wattlebirds, pied and sooty oyster catchers, and some mysterious tiny birds hiding in some of the coastal shrubs that refuse to be properly seen or have their photo taken!
Here are some of my favorite photos I’ve taken on my many walks along the foreshore.
At Shearwater Park you will find some mosaics lining both sides of the pathway. This was an art project by some local school students. There are 80 mosaics all in a beach theme. Here is just a small selection of some of my favourite ones.