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Tasmania, Australia - April 2019


monalisa
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I come from the land down under! And yet....

There is so much of my home country yet to see. 

When people tell me of their impressions of Australia, many expect that kangaroos roam the streets, snakes and spiders are everywhere. Well, having grown up in Sydney (and not the nice leafy areas either) I had never even SEEN a kangaroo in the wild. And to this day still have never come across a snake or red-back spider!

 

Launceston in Tasmania is an easy 1hr 20 min flight from Sydney so Mr monalisa (aka @CheetahFan) and I decided to utilise the Easter break in search of our next 2 bucket list animals: the platypus and the wombat. For wombats we were fairly certain that they would be in Cradle Mountain, as reported by several of our friends, but the platypus was another matter. Because they're so shy, it's not guaranteed to see them. And pretty much no one I have ever met has had a good look at one. We did a lot of Googling and came up with a bunch of anecdotal research, but it was the best we had. 

 

A lot of the trip comprised of hours staring at rivers, so if that sounds fun to you, read on!!

 

Itinerary

Day 1: Meander River (Deloraine), Tasmanian Arboretum (Devonport), Fern Glade Reserve (Burnie)

Day 2: Fern Glade Reserve (Burnie), Cradle Mountain

Day 3: Cradle Mountain

Day 4: Cradle Mountain, Sassafras Creek (Mole Creek), Meander River (Deloraine), Narawntapu National Park

 

 

Spoiler photo for the header banner - We did see kangaroos!

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Deloraine

 

After picking up our rental car at Launceston airport, it took about 45 minutes to drive to our first spot: Deloraine Apex Caravan Park. It sounds random, but we had seen on a blog called the Travelling Lindfields that they had been on a similar quest to find platypuses (platypodes?) and had had a great deal of luck there. It was on the way to Cradle Mountain, so we had nothing to lose!

 

We parked here, in a quaint, quiet street and headed across to the caravan park.

 

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The caravan park sits beside the Meander River where we were desperately hoping to spot one of these crazy critters. It was about 10:30am in the morning and the sun was shining when we arrived so our expectations were not very high. Platypuses generally are easier to spot at dawn and dusk.

 

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Our first "wildlife" sighting! (lol) An emden goose.. which I suppose is a "lifer" for me :lol:

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Tasmanian Native Hen

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After a few fruitless laps of the stretch of river next to the caravan park I decided to spend most of my time on this bridge. If they even existed here, surely from above would be the best place to spot one. There were a lot of random ripples from stupid fish getting my hopes up, and ducks swimming around scaring potential platypuses away.

 

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About 2 years ago we went to Kangaroo Island in South Australia and did a walk in Flinders Chase National Park hoping to see them. We did this walk twice and waited and waited. No dice. After about 45 minutes of staring at watery nothingness, memories of that disappointment were playing in my mind. Then all of a sudden.. ripples! With bubbles! Could it be?!?!

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It could!! Deloraine pays off!

 

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I couldn't spot my husband or mother in law (who was on the trip with us) anywhere. Were they going to miss this? In the space of 15 seconds the platypus dove down and was gone. I frantically took as many photos as I could.

 

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Thankfully, as quickly as it came, it popped back up again! And it was making its way towards the bridge.

 

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It proceeded to dive down and pop back up several times. After 10 minutes I spotted my husband and MIL and gestured wildly to come quickly.

 

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Fair warning, there won't be a great variety of critters in this TR, but hopefully you will enjoy seeing some of the good looks we got at the few we did.

 

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I'd enjoyed hearing stories of how the British believed the platypus to be a hoax at first - that a taxidermist had sewn a duck's bill onto a beaver. By looking at one you can see how unreal these amazing creatures are. I couldn't be happier to see my first duck beaver. They are so cute! :wub:  

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Edited by monalisa
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How lucky could we be... this platypus was out and about in the middle of the day! And swimming closer and closer!

 

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YAY FOR BRIDGES! You can't really ask for a better look than a bird's eye view!

 

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My favourite photo of the whole trip :)

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Down it goes..

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Goodbye cutie! 

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Getting chased away by ducks

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As it was Easter, not much was open for lunch except for the Deloraine Hotel. We were very happy with the food and would wholeheartedly recommend them (and their service) for lunch should any of you happen to be in that neck of the woods. 

 

Before I forget, I saw this pair of ducks mating which I hadn't seen before and thought was pretty interesting.

 

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He kind of drowns her, it's a bit weird

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Interesting that he pecks her neck much like a lion does. Is this something a lot of animals do, I wonder?

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Anyway, enough of mating ducks..

 

 

Tasmanian Arboretum

 

Next stop was the Tasmanian Arboretum in Devonport. Unsurprisingly the focus of this place was trees, but several platypuses had apparently made the Founders Lake their home and were frequently sighted there.

 

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We saw a few of them, but most at a distance. These ones were noticeably shier than the ones we had just seen in Deloraine. 

 

This is my best photo from the Arboretum. I think if you are lucky enough to spot one while on the bridge there, you could get some awesome photos, but we never did see one pass. 

This little dude was the one brave one that came a bit closer to the land. The water was fairly shallow here so we could see him use his bill to forage for food, it was very cool. Video to come!

 

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Great platypus sightings! I will probably never get to see one in real life, so this is wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

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To echo @xyz99's comments: I would love to see a platy in the wild. Great photos. Also on my list, echidnas...

 

Thanks for the report @monalisa.

 

Matt

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Here's a video of the first Platypus we saw at Deloraine!

 

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Great platypus shots! We've seen them at Warrawee but missed them at Fernglade.

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Fabulous fabulous DBP and so accommodating for your family members.  Now I am making the connection with you and Cheetahfan.  (me too)

 

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Superb shots and video of the platypus. When I saw them in QLD and TAS they were often obscured by aquatic vegetation. Dream sighting! Looking forward to reading the rest of your TR as I was in Tassie in 2016 and just loved it.

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Wonderful platypus sightings!

And female ducks sometimes do indeed drown during mating.

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@monalisa what a fabulous platypus sighting, I must remember that for future visitors. Thanks also for the tip about the arboretum, I’ve heard that sightings are possible there but no reports of definite views. 

 

I usually go to Warrawee for “platacats” but the access road was so bad last time I will try the arboretum next time. 

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Here's another video of a platypus at the Arboretum foraging for food at the bottom of the river:

 

 

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wow, amazing Platypus encounter and photos! Much clearer and closer than my view in Queensland! Tasmania is definitely on my list for a future Australia trip. Now...awaiting wombat photos :)

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12 hours ago, Game Warden said:

Also on my list, echidnas...

 

@Game Warden They are certainly very cool! We tried for them at Kangaroo Island and failed. I have only ever seen one and it turned up unexpectedly in my own neighbourhood in suburban Sydney!

 

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Sometime in spring we will be targeting them again during their mating season (in Canberra, ACT). Several males follow a female around in a line, forming an echidna love train. It would be fantastic to see that and I'll report back if we do!

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@xyz99 @Atravelynn @Galago @janzin Thank you for the kind comments! Glad you are enjoying the photos and video :) 

 

 

11 hours ago, Patty said:

Great platypus shots! We've seen them at Warrawee but missed them at Fernglade.

 

@Patty Warrawee Forest Reserve was on the original list of places to try since Latrobe is dubbed the platypus capital, but we read about a huge flooding event in the last 2 years or so that meant that the platypuses were gone, and the reserve was shut down due to damage. How long ago did you visit? Apparently they are still there but much harder to see, and the access roads are now terrible.

 

Haha Fern Glade... *shakes fist* So did we..

 

 

4 hours ago, Treepol said:

@monalisa I usually go to Warrawee for “platacats” but the access road was so bad last time I will try the arboretum next time. 

 

@Treepol Have you been to Warrawee since the flooding and managed to see platypuses? We didn't think chances would be high so skipped this one. Sounds like a good decision if the road was that bad!

 

 

7 hours ago, ForWildlife said:

And female ducks sometimes do indeed drown during mating.

 

@ForWildlife OMG!! I just Googled that and wow... Life's not easy for a female duck!

 

 

11 hours ago, CheetahFan said:

 

 

0:19-0:27 is my favourite bit of this video. It's BLINKING!!! So so darn cute!! :wub:

 

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Continuing on at the arboretum, I took some pics of some black swans and their cygnets/ugly ducklings that were hanging around

 

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I loved that these ones were just old enough to start getting that curvy swan neck. Note the teeny tiny wings. So cute! 

 

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It was about 4pm when we left the arboretum. We had one more stop to make before calling it in for the night - Fern Glade Reserve in Burnie.

 

In hindsight, I would still recommend the Arboretum as a place to spot platypus since we observed at least 5 different ones in the middle of the day, albeit it most at a distance. There is definitely potential for great sightings because of the shallow water and bridges to stand on. One of the volunteers at the kiosk had told us that once she was standing on the weir and one climbed up right near her feet. Arboretum entry is only $5AUD pp and they have homemade ice cream in the kiosk :)

 

 

Fern Glade Reserve

 

Fern Glade Reserve in Burnie is supposedly a platypus hotspot but we were sorely disappointed here. We arrived in the evening, around 5pm and stayed until maybe 7pm. This is in theory the right time of day and a decent amount of time to spend we thought. No dice. 

 

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It's a 1.2km stretch of disappointment alongside the Emu River. Oh well, at least it's pretty..

 

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It's a lovely spot to have a picnic or go for a walk, but compared to other places we had just been, not the best for platypus viewing. Even if we had seen one, the reserve was generally very dark because of the height and position of the trees. 

 

As it got darker, signs of life began to stir. Our first pademelon!

All pademelons in Tasmania are rufous-bellied pademelons so there was no question as to what it was.

 

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And another near the carpark. This one has floppy ears!

 

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We overnighted at the Beachfront Voyager Motor Inn at Burnie and ate at Fish Frenzy across the street (again, one of the only eateries open during the Easter public holidays). We would recommend both. The service was great at the inn and the amenities were more than comfortable. Fish Frenzy was unexpectedly tasty!

Burnie is on the coast, so we got to enjoy some ocean views while there

 

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Gluttons for punishment, Tim and I decided to try Fern Glade once again in the morning. My MIL slept in which turned out to be a great decision. 

 

We arrived at the reserve at 6:45am and stayed until about 8:30am. We attempted both dusk and dawn to no avail. No one can say we didn't try! :lol: 

Surprisingly, the pademelons weren't even around. 

 

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We did see a pair of white-bellied sea eagles at Fern Glade. Not exactly rare, but they are threatened in Tasmania, with less than 200 pairs. That was pretty cool. At least we had something to show for our morning!

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Cradle Mountain

 

Obligatory scenery shots

These ones were taken at the "Cradle Mountain Lookout" from which we could not see Cradle Mountain. Was it behind cloud??

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The road to Cradle Mountain

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We arrived at Cradle Mountain around 10:30am (too early for our 2pm check in time), so we decided to have lunch and then do one of the major walks there, the Dove Lake Circuit. The circuit takes approximately 1 1/2 - 2 hrs in good conditions. It is a pretty walk, but don't expect to see many animals. Perhaps the odd pademelon but the 2 we saw were skittish and hopped away quickly. I carried my heavy 80-400mm lens anyway fearing leaving it in the car and didn't use it. 99.99% of all the photos taken here were with my phone.

 

I should also mention that Cradle Mountain now runs a hop on, hop off shuttle service to all the trailheads which you need to get passes for. We bought a park pass online, but take note, you need to line up at the ticket office with it to get actual bus tickets. The shuttle driver will reject the online booking paperwork.

 

Dove Lake Circuit:

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Cradle Mountain, so named for its cradle shape and (use your imagination here), the baby inside it.

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After completing the walk we figured we needed to check in. 

Our accommodation was at the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village which had a check in cut-off time of 6pm, so it was good to get this out of the way. We hopped back onto the shuttle bus, and well.. we found our first wombat. The driver turned a bend and hit one which bounced past through all the wheels. There was no chance it survived, but the driver got out to check and I'm sure to throw its carcass over the side of the mountain so that the children on the bus wouldn't see it (and to prevent animals who might feed on the carcass from also becoming roadkill). The mood on the bus was sombre and everyone was silent. I heard parents telling their kids that we had just hit some rocks.

I'm not really sure what you are supposed to tell children in these instances.

 

We got off the bus at the famous Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge

 

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As soon as we got off the bus we noticed brown, furry fat blobs on the field across the street. It could only be one thing!! WOMBIES!! :D

 

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Then we saw another one. Are they not the cutest things ever?!

 

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This one is more of a grey colour.  Wombats are the closest relative of the koala, and it occurs to me why

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Wombat or koala??

 

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After watching them for about 45 minutes we did a few of the shorter walks next to the Peppers lodge, like the Knyvet Falls, Pencil Pine and Enchanted walks. There are chances for animals along some of these, which of course we did not see. 

 

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On the other end of the track, right near the lodge we did get a new animal! A Bennett's wallaby! There were also 2 very shy pademelons hiding under this bush.

 

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The end of the track is also right next to a platypus pond. Some Tripadvisor reviews from a couple of years ago had confirmed sightings of them, so we hung around in silence for a half hour or so. Nothing. Fish ripples and nothing else. Boooo.

 

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Dinner was at the Peppers lodge bistro. The food was nice, but a little pricey and it was pretty busy. It took about 20 minutes lining up just to order, and a further 30 minutes to receive the meals. There isn't much choice for dinner in Cradle Mountain however. Less so during public holidays.

 

After dinner and returning to our accommodation, Tim and I went to check out the wildlife around our cabin. We spotted this pademelon!

 

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The next morning we got up and headed to Ronny Creek carpark at 6:45am hoping to spot some wombats and maybe a platypus. They have been spotted alongside the boardwalk before so not totally out of the question!

 

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We did the track from Ronny Creek to Lilla Lake, ending at Dove Lake. It starts here, the same place as the Overland Track (which if you're so inclined, takes about a week to complete)

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Views were nice, but no wombats to be seen

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Lilla Lake

Here I briefly stopped to eat a nut bar. A currawong perched nearby and watched carefully for an opportunity to swoop. I protected my nut bar well and stared menacingly back at the bird. In response, it vomited all the purple berries it had just consumed, right in front of me. Thanks Bud.

 

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View of Cradle Mountain from Lilla Lake

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We arrived at Dove Lake and had the boatshed all to ourselves. The previous afternoon this photo would not have been possible. There were people absolutely everywhere.

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Back to the animals!

After the wombatless morning walk we returned to our accommodation and did a few laps around the area to find our resident pademelons.

 

A Bennett's wallaby saw me and hopped away

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Though I felt like I was being watched...

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Currawong eating some berries that it probably plans to throw up on some poor unsuspecting victim later

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These birds are clever. They have observed humans and have learned how to unzip backpacks to get to food.

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Pademelon!

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Looks like it's eating some sort of mushroom/fungus

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So cute how it's holding it

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You may have realised that I generally think everything is cute.

Well how is this for cuteness!? Mummy and baby pademelon having a cuddle :wub:

 

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After lunch (we had been making our own lunches from supermarket supplies we brought with us from Burnie), we went back to Peppers and did the Enchanted Walk again.

 

A few pademelons this time next to the river

 

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Edited by monalisa
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Warning: There are wombats, wombats and more wombats ahead ^_^

 

We parked at Peppers lodge, and what should we find on the fields across the street again?

More cuteness! That's what!

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We walked 50 metres and then found............ a mama and BABY WOMBIE!! Cute cute cute! 

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Junior looks tired..

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After about 20 minutes watching them happily munch on grass, they crawled into the base of a small bush  by the roadside and went to sleep.

 

They're SPOONING! 

 

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@monalisa Enjoying this greatly - lovely sightings of lots of marsupials!

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You’ve gone a bit wombat crazy at the end there but this is a great start to your trip. Could hardly be better. 

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We completely missed on platypus during our trip to Australia, this info will be really useful when we return since Tasmania is high on my list.  Love th wombats too, they look like you could jut go up and hug them.

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Some footage of the joey wombat, which was probably the highlight of this trip for me:

 

 

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46 minutes ago, CheetahFan said:

Some footage of the joey wombat, which was probably the highlight of this trip for me:

 

 

OMG! It definitely would've been the highlight for me!

 

10 hours ago, monalisa said:

 

@Patty Warrawee Forest Reserve was on the original list of places to try since Latrobe is dubbed the platypus capital, but we read about a huge flooding event in the last 2 years or so that meant that the platypuses were gone, and the reserve was shut down due to damage. How long ago did you visit? Apparently they are still there but much harder to see, and the access roads are now terrible.

 

Haha Fern Glade... *shakes fist* So did we..

 

 

Thanks for the update. Our visit to Warrawee was many years ago. Sorry to hear that. Fernglade was last year and we thought it was because we were there at the wrong time of day (mid-morning).

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omg Wombats are little fuzzballs! Loving it!

 

I'm curious if you saw much there in the way of birds...or are were you just not really looking at/for the smaller birds? Tasmania is considered an excellent birding destination!

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Pademelon, spooning wombats, a watching wallaby--like a one of those plush children's books!

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So much cuteness, love it!!! Echidnas, wombats, wallabies....maybe, hopefully....someday. But this is wonderful, thanks for sharing.

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