Okay – not really. That would be just crazy. None of them drink.
As part of our trip to Oz (Australia that is, not the one with the witches and munchkins) last month, we spent 5 days in Tasmania.
For those you who don’t know, Australia has 6 states and numerous territories. The states are New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. Tasmania is actually an island state off the south eastern coast of the mainland. Kinda like Hawaii is to the US but with Tasmanian devils, wombats and quolls.
AGMA likes critters. Except snakes. And spiders. And animals that want to eat me.
Part of the delight in traveling in Australia is the amazing wildlife. Except the snakes, spiders and AGMAovores.
We had quite a few close encounters with kangaroos and koala’s in the wild on our trip to Oz in 2013. And of course we had our snuggle session with the sweet little joeys at the Kangaroo Sanctuary outside of Alice Springs on this trip.
But Tasmania was a new experience as far as critters go…
Sans wildlife, Tassie reminded me a lot of Ireland. It’s roughly the same size and topographically similar. The western part is wild, wooly, craggy with an untamed beauty all it’s own. The eastern part is much more “civilized” with beautiful rivers winding through flatter land. No Guinness Storehouse, but lots of great vineyards.
Did I mention the fabulous wine?
Hubs and I met friends, C & J, from New South Wales at the Hobart airport on November 19th to begin “The Great Tassie Adventure”. We were very thankful for these friends who were willing to drive the rental car. They drive on the “wrong side” of the road in Australia.
AGMA didn’t realize just how thankful I would be until we starting winding up and down narrow mountain roads heading towards Strahan on the western coast. Pass the Dramamine.
And that’s when we started seeing the wombats. Dead wombats. Road kill.
Wombat – the other yellow meat.
It was hard to tell if they were cute or not. They were all kinda puffed up and keeled over on their sides with their little legs up in the air. All of us wanted to see one that was actually alive. We put “spot a live wombat” on our to do list.
The third day out, we struck pay dirt.
We were in beautiful Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park when it happened.
I need to mention that the weather was atrocious that day. Even though it was early summer in the southern hemisphere, Tasmania evidently did not receive that memo. It was in the low 50’s with rain. I was wet, cold and miserable. And our friends, who are very hardy Australians, decided that we should picnic outside then C & I take a hike afterward.
Given Hubs can’t walk too well, he and J were going to drive there & meet us.
But J pulled out his super duper x-ray vision binoculars before they left and bingo! He spotted one. A wombat. A really, truly live wombat in the field next to the boardwalk trail. Not all bloated on it’s side with it’s legs sticking up.
OMG OMG OMG
Then we found out from “real” hikers that wombat sightings were not all that surprising given that there was enough wombat poop on the boardwalk trail to turn the Saraha into a lush, garden paradise. Just add water. I mean, piles and piles of wombat poop.
As the old joke goes – dig down deep enough and your bound to find a wombat in there somewhere.
Or something like that.
After 30 minutes of wombat watching – two more showed up – we figured that 129 pictures and 12 videos of wombats would be good enough.
Ah – but that was just the beginning of the critter sightings…
We saw a paddymelon hop across one of the roads. Yeah – I said a paddymelon. Google it.
Then we went to Devils@Cradle. It’s a wildlife conservation sanctuary for Tasmanian devils and quolls in the National Park. Yeah – I said quoll. Google it.
Turns out, real Tasmanian devils don’t look at all like the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil. And the females don’t wear lipstick. At least AGMA didn’t see any with lipstick.
Sadly, there is this nasty facial tumor disease that is taking a huge toll on the Tasmanian devil population. That, along with devils being right up there with wombats as road kill isn’t a good thing. Their numbers are greatly reduced and now wildlife biologist are having to deal with the implications of that. In other words, the genetic weaknesses from inbreeding.
Despite their sorta ugly appearance and their decidedly nasty disposition – they make a horrific sound – I found myself feeling sorry for the little unpleasant carnivorous marsupials.
Not so much the quolls. They’re not endanged. They’re too nasty to be endangered. They can put multiple male devils in the same compound, and while the boys might not like it and kinda rough each other up (a la The Soprano’s) the quolls are ruthless (a la Scarface). Put two male quolls in close proximity to each other and it’s a bloodbath. One of them will die. They can’t even put females too close to two males in separate cages. They die from the stress.
Sounds like the post-election United States.
Hubs and I also went to The Platypus House outside of Launceston after several delightful hours sampling the fine wines of the Tamar Valley. Those platypi were sooooo darned cute!
And so were the echidnas. Yeah – I said echidnas. Google it.
We loved Tasmania and realize that 5 days were woefully inadequate to even begin to explore this beautiful part of Australia.
Or drink it’s fine wines.
Guess we’ll have to wait for another $528 round trip airfare from Atlanta to Melbourne.
So many vineyards – so little time.