Little Penguins At Stanley

Continuing on with my road trip to Stanley in Tasmania’s north west with my friend Petrina, one of the things I was most looking forward to was seeing the Little Penguins at Godfreys Beach.

It would be hard not to know there were penguins to be spotted in Stanley when you see these signs!

Penguin road sign in Stanley, Tasmania

In Stanley, there is a special purpose built viewing platform where the public can go and watch the Little Penguins (also known as Fairy Penguins) come ashore at night. There is no guided tour and there is no fee to enter the viewing platform, so you can make your way there when it’s convenient for you. Check the sign out front to see what time the penguins are expected to make their appearance.

There are quite a lot of vantage points for seeing the little penguins up fairly close from the viewing platform and there is plenty of room if it gets busy with people. You’re not allowed to use torches so the only light you have is the soft red glow from the lights along the platform and around it on the beach.

This is what we saw from the viewing platform on our first night just after 9.15pm.

The lack of light makes it difficult to get any decent photos or video, but watching those little penguins come ashore and hearing their calls was a beautiful experience. And as you can see, the penguins came up quite close to the viewing platform.

The next night, and our last night at Stanley, was bitterly cold, extremely windy and rainy, so I had to beg and plead with my friend to get her to come with me to see the penguins one last time, and we were both very happy we did venture out as we saw this just down the road before we even got to the viewing platform!

This was the highlight of my trip and an experience to remember! 🙂

Road Trip To Stanley

Last December, a good friend of mine from Queensland, Petrina, came to stay with me and while she was here, we went on a 3 day road trip and explored a bit of the north west of Tasmania.

Our first stop from Launceston was the interesting village of Grindelwald, where many of the houses are built to replicate Swiss chalets, including an over 50s retirement home across the road from a resort.

Part of Grindelwald, a little piece of Switzerland in Tasmania

While my friend grabbed a necessary coffee, I waited by the lake and observed some of the local wildlife.

This adorable duck came up quite close to me.

This was an unexpected but delightful sighting!

Next stop was the town of Devonport and the light house at Mersey Bluff.

Along the way we saw a number of poppy fields in flower. These are actually white flowers and not the red poppies you may be familiar with. These poppy flowers are grown to extract an alkaloid for pharmaceutical use, and include morphine and codeine as well as oripavine used to treat heroin overdoses. Tasmania is the world’s largest producer of licit alkaloid material, supplying almost half of the world’s demand!

Poppy fields seen from the main highway in north west Tasmania

Our next stop was the charming small town of Penguin.

The iconic Big Penguin in the town of Penguin, Tasmania
A Doctor Who TARDIS public book lending library on the main street in Penguin
Public rubbish bins on the main street in Penguin

Back on the road again, who wouldn’t enjoy a scenic drive along this highway!

Coming into the township of Stanley, you can’t miss seeing the famous Nut!

In my next post you will see more of this Tasmanian icon and views from the top!!

Below is a map of Tasmania showing the route we took.

Winifred Curtis Scamander Reserve

On the east coast of Tasmania there is a small town called Scamander and there you will find a 75 hectare nature reserve called Winifred Curtis Scamander Reserve. The reserve is named after Winifred Curtis who is well regarded for her studies in botany and who also wrote the six volumes of The Endemic Flora of Tasmania.

The walking trail is easy and mostly flat, with lots of wildlife, even on a day with changeable weather conditions as was the case when we visited there in January this year. What I really appreciated about this walking trail was the frequent signposts with a map and options to go different ways to shorten or lengthen your walk.

We saw quite a number of pelicans, looking like graceful sailboats even in choppy water from the wind.

I couldn’t get a better photo but I think this could be a Dusky Woodswallow.

There were plenty of Black swans too.

And Little Pied cormorants.

And a Little Black cormorant.

And Pied oystercatchers.

The trail changed as we headed inland towards a lookout.

Honey bees found something sweet!

We were almost at the end of the trail when this blue tongued lizard made a brief appearance.

Before heading home, we checked out the little coastal town of Scamander and its main beach.

If you’re ever on the east coast of Tasmania, make sure to stop by Scamander and enjoy a little relaxation while soaking up the beautiful views, and check out the river, beaches, lagoon and reserve with all its wildlife. Definitely worth a visit! 😉🏖🦢

Notley Fern Gorge State Reserve

About half an hour’s drive north west of Launceston in Tasmania, is a lovely spot for a forest walk at Notley Fern Gorge State Reserve.

A scenic drive brings you to a little car park from which there is a walking track taking you past tall eucalypts, tree ferns and mossy scenes, and crosses a creek a number of times. The path is a mixture of boardwalk, natural path and steps with some inclines, and the walk takes around 45 minutes on a looping track and has the occasional little sign post highlighting trees and ferns of interest.

We went for a walk there in March just before the coronavirus lockdown, and visited there again last weekend as some of our restrictions had lifted and we were once again able to get out a bit more.

I managed to spot a pademelon not far into the walk.

We quite often saw this little fern growing on the tree ferns, called common filmy fern.

We also came across this interesting plant called a kangaroo fern.

Here it is growing on one of the trees in the forest.

And here is a close up of one of the fern fronds. Can you see how it resembles a kangaroo paw?

Along the way we spied a number of different species of fungi.

I also had my first sighting of a scarlet robin!

The scenery is quite beautiful in this reserve, it felt lovely and cool and fresh, with the sweet chatter of tiny little birds in the trees, tantalisingly close but difficult to spot.

If you go there for a visit, don’t miss Brady’s Tree, a large tree with a burnt out hollow that legend says bushranger Matthew Brady and his gang hid in during the early 1820s!

Ben Lomond and Jacob’s Ladder

Back in October last year, a friend from work, Steph, took me on a drive to Ben Lomond so I could experience the notorious Jacob’s Ladder.

Ben Lomond is a mountain about 1500 metres high in the Ben Lomond National Park, about an hour’s drive from Launceston, Tasmania.  The region is alpine and dominated by dolerite columns and scree slopes.

Jacob’s Ladder is the name given to the precarious road going up Ben Lomond and is said to be one of the scariest roads to drive on in Australia.

At the top of the road is a lookout and in clear weather you would be able to see great distances, but on this day the sun didn’t last long at all and cloud and fog hampered the view a bit.

 

The weather on Bon Lomond is very changeable, you have to be prepared for all kinds of weather even in summer.

Fog or low cloud moving in obscuring our view

Ben Lomond is where Tasmanians go to ski in winter. When we went it was mid spring and there were still small patches of snow to be seen.

There is lots of flora and fauna at Ben Lomond but on this day we only got to see a few Bennett’s wallabies.

Due to the nature of the weather conditions, we didn’t stay too long and started to drive back down the mountain as low cloud once again snuck up on us.

Clouds felt so close that I thought I could reach out and touch them.

I took a few photos of Jacob’s Ladder as we drove down. Slowly, slowly ……..

Here is a photo of the full road to the top of Ben Lomond, as you can see it is quite a zig zag road and is very steep and narrow. In winter, the road is subject to ice and snow and most people use the winter shuttle bus to get to the top.

It was a bit freaky in the car driving down and definitely not a drive I would do myself!

What’s the scariest road you’ve been on?

Platypus At Myrtle Park

Myrtle Park is a serene campground on a river situated about 35kms from Launceston on the way to Scottsdale.  It’s a popular spot for campers and families on holiday, and day trippers are welcome too, which is great because Myrtle Park is a lovely spot not only for a tranquil picnic by the river but also for seeing a platypus!

When we visited back in March, we didn’t have to wait long before we spotted our first platypus.

Here it is having a scratch in the water.

We sighted 3 different platypus on this day. They are a joy to watch floating, paddling and diving in the river looking for food.

I took this next video about 2 metres from the edge of the river bank. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to a wild platypus and it was amazing.

Myrtle Park is a great spot to view platypus in the wild, you are almost guaranteed to see one. The best times for viewing is sunset and it helps if it’s quiet. It was a wonderful experience to see several of these amazing and unique animals in the river. It was a very special moment for me and this day will stay with me forever.

Young White Bellied Sea Eagles

Recently when I was out for a walk early one morning, I happened to accidentally catch sight of several young white bellied sea eagles along the Tamar River.  My camera was on full zoom to be able to see them, and what a treat it was!

Towards the end of this next video, it looks like one of them caught a fish for breakfast.

I have been keeping my eyes peeled for them again since, but no luck sighting them again.

Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

In early March before restrictions came into effect due to the coronavirus, I visited a wonderful place near Hobart called Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.  It was a very inspiring visit, and it was very obvious that the staff there really loved the animals and there were some beautiful interactions between the keepers and the wildlife there.

This is not a zoo, it is a wildlife sanctuary in real terms. You never know what you will see at Bonorong. All the animals there are in rehabilitation, having been brought in to the sanctuary when found injured or orphaned. They have a special seabird rehabilitation area complete with a saltwater pool, as well as the recently opened wildlife hospital, and they also run a 24/7 wildlife rescue service. While there, you can go on a free tour of the sanctuary with keeper talks, get up close with the free roaming kangaroos and pat them and hand feed them, and you can pay extra for personal animal encounters or even do a night tour or feeding tour.  All the money goes back to Bonorong to care for the animals and help fund conservation programs.

An endangered Spotted Tailed Quoll sleeping
Echidna
Emu having a bad hair day
Tasmanian devil
The cutest wombat ever!

Cape Barren Goose
Roos relaxing
A sleepy roo
Someone’s getting a bit too familiar lol

There are heaps of kangaroos at the sanctuary, a perfect place to go to if you want to get up close and touch them and feed them. They also have an area cordoned off from the public so the roos can escape there if they’ve had enough of humans. Most of them laze around sleeping, some just want to eat all the time, but they all seem very content and happy for a scratch on the chest.

 

Views of the surrounding countryside from the sanctuary

Although Bonorong is currently closed to the public due to the covid-19 pandemic, I definitely recommend a visit to this wildlife sanctuary if you’re ever in the area once the pandemic is over, you won’t be disappointed.

As a side note, today marks 2 years since I moved to Tasmania by myself to start a new life and I have to say that everything has worked out really well. I have a decent job, I live in a beautiful part of Australia, I have made some wonderful new friends and kept in contact with my old friends back in Queensland, and I now have a very special person in my life, Peter, who loves nature and wildlife as much as I do. We had just started exploring some of Tassie before the covid-19 pandemic started, so I’m looking forward to the time when the restrictions are lifted so we can continue discovering more of Tasmania. 🙂