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!! 🙂

 

Murmurations of Starlings

I’m excited to share a short video I took recently of the amazing flying patterns of starlings known as murmurations.

I only happened upon it by accident one evening as I was near the end of my walk at the Tamar Island Wetlands.  It was totally unexpected, and since then, I have taken my camera with me and tried to get some video of the starlings incredible flying formation. However, it’s difficult because they don’t seem to fly like this all the time, and now as winter approaches, I can’t get there early enough.

 

Amazing isn’t it! I could watch this all day! 🙂

There has to be hundreds of starlings coming in to settle for the night at the Wetlands. It certainly sounded like it when I walked past them! I wonder what they were saying to each other?

 

The European starling (also known as the Common starling) is an introduced and invasive bird here in Australia, but even so, it is a very pretty bird when the sun shines on them exposing their metallic rainbow of colours, and they also have a beautiful song.

European starling (not my photo)

Have you ever seen a murmuration of starlings or any other bird?

 

 

 

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

 

Down Brownfield Lane

Opposite the Riverside High School near Launceston is a small park and a lake. I couldn’t see any sign as to what it is called and maps don’t have a name for it either.  I visited there one afternoon and found there are quite a number of birds there. It’s a lovely country setting, the lake surrounded by trees, now starting to change colour in late autumn, and farmhouses and green paddocks abound up to the Tamar River with mountains in the distance.

Turbo chooks (Native Hens)
Although turbo chooks are waterbirds and often seen at the Wetlands, this was the first time I had seen one actually in the water.
Native Hen (Turbo Chook) These birds are only found in Tasmania and belong to the rail family.
One of a huge flock of sulphur crested cockatoos I often see flying around the area.
It wouldn’t be a park without a magpie!
This pair of galahs were spotted near the car park.
Couldn’t identify this duck. Anyone know?
Pacific black ducks.
Found these trying to be invisible on the lake edge among trees. Not sure what type of duck they are.
Wood ducks having a meeting
Eurasian coot

I was treated to a quick diving display from a Eurasian coot!

There were quite a lot of these Silver gulls around
An adult and a juvenile silver gull
Silver gulls chilling in the afternoon sun
A lone feral domestic goose was hanging out with its duck friends
He seemed quite friendly and at one point swam right up to me.
Find of the day! A yellow wattlebird. My first sighting of this bird, only found in Tasmania.

This park and lake are definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

 

 

Seagull Parade

If I decide to go for an early morning walk at the local wetlands when it’s high tide, I often find that I am the first person there for the day. How do I know? By the seagull parade!

Silver gulls and Pacific gulls lining the boardwalk

Along the boardwalk are a few bridges over sections of the Tamar River, and there are lots of silver gulls and pacific gulls that are perched on the bridges in the early morning at high tide.

Pacific gulls
More gulls on another bridge
White faced herons hanging out with the pacific gulls
A closer look at some Pacific gulls
A large number of immature Pacific gulls can be seen

As I get close to the birds, they start to cry and take flight, and soon there are heaps of gulls flying overhead, heading towards the harbour.

Once disturbed, the birds don’t return, they must continue on with their day. I hate to disturb them, but walk I must, and they don’t seem overly upset as they are there again the following day.

I took this video of walking past the seagulls. Unfortunately, YouTube has removed the stabiliser enhancement feature so the video is a bit wonky.

As you can see, these birds do make a mess of the boardwalk, but a bit of rain cleans it up.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many gulls in one place before!

 

 

 

White Kangaroos!

A friend at work told me about a spot near my home where there were some white kangaroos, so of course I had to go take a look.

Sure enough, only minutes in the car from my house, I came across a property with a number of kangaroos including white ones, as well as a few emus.

I managed to see 4 white kangaroos, technically they are albino as they are white with pink eyes. I was able to capture 3 of them in one shot.

This particular one was enjoying a grooming session.

 

There were also some grey kangaroos there.

And I spotted a few emus.

I don’t know if these animals are free ranging and just like to hang out here, or whether they are being kept by the people who live there, but in any case, it was certainly a treat to spend some time watching them.

 

 

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.