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First Trip To Australia: Tasmania and Victoria


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@shazdwn, what a great back yard you used to have.  Our travels along the GOR were fantastic.  A trip to Bruny Island is definitely worth it.


@monalisa, this was probably our best echidna encounter the whole trip since it wasn't in long grass so the photo ops were good.  Plus, it wasn't bothered by our presence at all.  I have some video of this one I might dig up and post at some point.

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Victoria Day 1 - Travel and The Dandenong Ranges   The timing and location of our trip to Australia revolved entirely around using airline miles.  The airlines make it soooo hard to actually

Tasmania Day 5 - Bruny Island   We actually had a pretty early morning wake up today since our airport transfer left at 7AM.  Our flight from Melbourne to Hobart on Jetstar was uneventful. 

Australia Day 2 - Exploring Victoria   We actually slept until 7AM today since the jet lag caught up to us a little bit.  But, overall it was the most rested we had ever felt after long trav

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Tasmania Day 10 - Lake St. Clair and Cradle Mountain


We slept in again today and enjoyed a very leisurely breakfast.  Some fresh blackberries had been added to the treats from the day before so breakfast was really good again.  Hamlet Downs was a great place to stay and, despite the events of the night before, we would recommend it for anyone visiting Mt Field NP.


At around 9:30 AM we left and started our drive to our next destination which was Cradle Mountain NP.  But, we would be stopping at Lake St. Clair NP on the way to get some hiking in.


We took a quick stretch break at Meadowbank Lake since it was looking picturesque.

Meadowbank Lake


But, we didn't even think about getting in because of signs like this:

Maybe a quicksand warning?


Maybe that's a quicksand warning?


Previously, I had mentioned that we rented a GPS unit with the car.  Not only did it help us get from place to place but it also provided some entertainment.  You see, the voice was female with a nice Aussie accent. So naturally we named it Sheila.


I had a few problems with Sheila.  First off, she was bossy and would yell at me with a loud double beep whenever I went over the speed limit.  After a few rounds of this, the "ding ding" really started to sound like "Too Fast!".  The problem was rarely me though.  Her internal speed limit didn't always match the actual speed limit.  So, she would yell at me even though I was going under the actual speed limit.  "Too Fast!"


God forbid that I would drift a bit left in the lane while going over the "internal" speed limit because then I would get it from both sides with Karen telling me I was too close and Sheila beeping "Too Fast!" at me.  It was NOT a dream threesome at all.


There were a few points in the trip where Sheila just got too bossy and I turned her off.  When I would turn her back on later she would seem to be extra nice.  Did she realize that I turned her off and if so was she passive aggressively planning revenge?  I sure hoped not.


Anyway, once at Lake St. Clair, we decided to hike the 65km Overland Track:

Just a quick 65 km hike


We did about 5km...


We almost made it too.  We were only 60km short. But, the hike was nice and took us to a platypus viewing area that was, of course, devoid of platypus.  They were proving to be very elusive so far but we had some "guaranteed" locations coming up in future days so we weren't worried.


On the way out of Lake St. Clair a little voice in our heads told us to "keep our eyes peeled" when we passed signs like these, which we did to no avail:


Wombat Crossing!


Echidna Crossing!


We had a delicious toastie lunch at the fantastically named "The Hungry Wombat Cafe" just outside of Lake St. Clair.


Great toasties here


The drive from Lake St. Clair to Cradle Mountain was about 3 hours so we broke up that time with a spontaneous stop at Nelson Falls.


Quick stop to stretch our legs


The forest along the trail was amazing just like all the other forests we had seen in Tasmania.


Forest around Nelson Falls


A peaceful stroll


Nelson Falls itself was very nice as well.


Nelson Falls


Getting closer to our destination, we made one last stop at a lookout point where you can see Cradle Mountain in the distance:

View of Cradle Mountain National Park


We arrived at Cradle Mountain around 5:30 PM and checked into our room at Pepper's Cradle Mountain Lodge.


We have arrived


Home for 3 nights


The main lodge


I had splurged for an upgraded cabin here and it was VERY nice.


Our cabin and semi dirty rental


By the way, if you think the rental car looked dirty at this point, you should have seen it when we were done.  We would get filthy just looking at it by the end of the trip.


Nice room


I don't make it a point to take pictures of toilets but I had to make an exception at Pepper's:

Well said


After a nice dinner in the restaurant at the lodge, we did a 2 hour night walk on the many trails they have at the lodge.  Of course, we saw some brushies.


Look at the tail on this one:



This dark morph brushie also looked really healthy:



I am sharing this picture because it shows the little rat like tail that they really have hidden under those piles of long hair:

And another...


Since we only saw brushies on our night walk (9 in total) we decided to take a night drive into the park where we saw, you guessed it, more brushies.  But, we also saw our first wombat which was on the road right next to the passenger side of the car.  It didn't move at all but I didn't want to startle it by getting out and taking a picture since I was very hopeful that we would see plenty during the day.


The final sighting of the night drive was a dark morph eastern quoll on the road.  They aren't seen in the area that often apparently so it was nice that we got to see one.

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Tasmania Day 11 - Cradle Mountain


We actually set an alarm today since we planned to head out relatively early.  We had a 7 AM breakfast in the restaurant which was good with lots of variety.  Then we headed to the visitor center where we had to pick up our free (since we already had a National Park pass) shuttle tickets.


Cradle Mountain runs a shuttle service during the day to get in and out of the park to reduce traffic and because the road is very narrow in parts.  We found the shuttle service to be great.  We never waited more than 15 minutes for one and all the drivers would provide useful information during the drive.


The plan today was to go to Dove Lake which is at the end of the line and do some hiking since the area is supposed to be very picturesque.  However, when we got there it was overcast and not as pretty as we had hoped.  Plus, the downside of the shuttle is that everyone gets to the trails at the same time so there were a lot of other people with the same plan as us.


Hmm... decisions, decisions...

Dove Lake hiking options


Cradle Mountain view


We decided to head to the boat shed first to take some pictures.


The boathouse


The walk around Dove Lake just wasn't going to be very pretty in this weather.  So, we changed our plans and decided to go to Ronny Creek to look for wombats.  We went back to the shuttle stop and caught the next one back to Ronny Creek.


At Ronny Creek we found some cooperative native hens:

Tasmanian National Hen (Endemic)


We also had another chance to hike the 65km Overland Track:

Another leg of the 65 KM hike - we did another 5K


Once again, we almost made it.  I think we were only 63km short today...


Anyway, you have to love Australian parks.  Overall we found them to have much better infrastructure than US parks.  The trails were better, the signs were better, and the facilities (especially the bathrooms) were better.  Most parks even had flush toilets which is not something you see in the US very often.


This sign gave us some hope that wombats might be near.  However,  I had no plans to feed them tiny red hearts:

We just want to see some...


That sign was right because not much later we saw our first daytime wombat munching away on some grass:



Then we saw another:

Big Wombat


And another...

Grazing time


We sure didn't have to worry about NOT seeing any wombats.


One of the interesting things about wombats is that they are the only animal that has cube shaped poop.  Yup, that's right.  So, when one of the wombats sauntered by and pooped near the boardwalk, I had to get a picture to confirm that fact.  Notice the nice compoopsition of the photo...


Wombats leave square poop, really.


That wombat was so close that we could hear it chewing loud and clear which was pretty cool.  In fact, the only time it paused its eating was to poop.  Otherwise, it was just a large furry eating machine.  I wonder if I could borrow one to take care of all the weeds in our yard...


After getting our fill of wombats (not that we could EVER really get our fill), we headed back to Pepper's for lunch.  Outside the main lodge is a lake that looks like great platypus habitat but apparently one hasn't been seen there in a long time so we didn't spend much time looking.


Peppers pond at the lodge


After a great lunch in the restaurant that included seafood chowder, caesar salad, and a chocolate pudding dessert with ice cream that was extra satisfying, we decided to burn off a few calories and walk some of the trails at the lodge.


Inala Karen had given me a tip that the Enchanted Track at the lodge was a good place for pink robin, so that was our first stop.  It's a very pretty trail along a small river with lots of cool trees.


The Enchanted Track


We even found a couple wombat burrows:

Wombat burrows


Unfortunately, there were no signs of any pink robins.  But, at the end of the trail they had a very interesting crosswalk.  The way I interpret these signs is that you have to moonwalk across the street there which of course I did.


Only moon walking allowed.


Our next stop was supposed to be the gift shop they have at Pepper's but we were unavoidably detained by a mother and juvenile wombat munching on grass outside the store.


Mother and juvenile



On the cuteness meter, a young wombat is a perfect 10 in my book.




Yes you!


At one point, mom just fell asleep while grazing.  I guess eating and pooping all day can really take its toll.


Too tired to even eat


When mom did wake up she actually paused and sort of looked up for once:



But, it turns out it was only to do some major scratching:

And scratch.


And then she gave me a look I will not soon forget:

Whoa...maybe not so cute after all


A 3rd wombat showed up as we left and then we saw a 4th one walking to our room.  They were pretty much everywhere.


We walked a few other trails in the afternoon like the King Billy Track and another one to a waterfall but I really didn't come away with any decent pictures.  We saw a couple more wombats and some birds as well of course.


So, what do you do after a successful day watching wombats?  Well, if you are us you head to the bar for a cocktail which is exactly what we did.  They even had some Aussie rules football on the "tele" so I watched a bit of that and tried to figure it out as we drank.


We had an early'ish dinner because we had a reservation for a night tour at Devil's @ Cradle which is a conservation facility just down the road from Pepper's.  The odds of us seeing a wild devil were slim to none so we decided to go on this night feeding tour to watch the devils eat and better yet hear them.


The driveway up to Devil's @ Cradle had a nice quoll sign that I ended up photographing later on in the day light:


Quoll Crossing


The tour itself was much better than we expected and highly educational.  I didn't take any pictures but did take a video of the juveniles getting fed:



And another of some adults getting fed.  The adults were a bit more vocal:




After the tour was over, we decided to take a drive into the park again to see if we could find anything but we struck out.  We even got out at Ronny Creek and walked around for a while until the cold drove us back into the car.  We did encounter a couple cars that possibly were racing in the park which was very sad.  They zoomed past us twice and luckily didn't leave any roadkill in their wake.


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OMG Wombats, cutest thing ever!! I want one! Can't believe you saw so many and they were so cooperative for photos.


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2 hours ago, janzin said:

OMG Wombats, cutest thing ever!!


Not so cute when they decide to get under the house @janzin !

Really enjoying following this @Atdahl with your great narrative and photos of so many special sightings despite being 63kms short on the trek!

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@janzin, yes I agree.  Wombats are definitely top 5 on my cutest things ever list.  Right up there with bear and lion cubs.


@Caracal, thanks.  I guess the cutest factor would go down if they decided to burrow under my house.  At least that is less likely with bear and lion cubs...I would hope. :o

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Tasmania Day 12 - Cradle Mountain


I am starting to sound like a broken record but I will say it again... Today we slept in.  We actually were resembling the word "lazy" on this trip and we didn't mind it at all.


We had a leisurely breakfast at the restaurant around 8:30AM.  Afterwards, we walked the Enchanted Walk hoping to find a pink robin.  But, no luck there.  However, we did see our first snake of the trip.


White-lipped Snake sunning itself



Even though we have seen hundreds of snakes and love them, I am always startled when I first see one especially when it's right where I am about to walk.  At first, I couldn't tell what species it was but when it left the boardwalk and I was able to get a view of the head which made it easy to identify as a white-lipped snake.


Moving along out of the way


Since there are only 3 snake species in Tasmania I had a 33% chance of getting it right.  Here is a look at the 3 species.  Note that the white-lipped snake is the least venomous of the 3.


2 of the top 15 most venomous snakes in the world


The tiger snake is one of the most venomous snakes in the world and usually makes the top 5 on most lists you find online. The copperhead is usually just outside the top 10 on those same "most venomous" lists.  So, the snakes in Tasmania are NOT to be messed with.


After that excitement, we decided that it was a good time to do laundry and Karen volunteered for that fun chore to begin compensating me for all the trip planning I did which I appreciated.  So, I decided to walk around the grounds a bit by myself where I ended up doing the Enchanted Walk again looking for pink robin because, you never know...


This ended up being a smart decision because not long after starting the walk some movement caught me eye up in a tree.  Once that movement hit the sunlight I could see the brilliant pink.  It was a pink robin!  The bird that started it all when it came to this trip.


Unfortunately, it played hard to get and did not stick around long so my pictures are just so-so but I am happy that another mission was successful.  Thanks for another great tip Inala Karen.


Pink Robin


Striking color


At lunch, Karen ordered the soup of the day which was potato and cauliflower.  She expected actual pieces of potato and cauliflower but the soup was a puree and not what she expected.  Typically, in the US soup comes with chunks of whatever in it which is what we are used to.  But, our Aussie friends confirmed that is not typical there and that would likely be more of a stew.  This was the 2nd time on the trip that Karen ordered soup and the 2nd time she got a puree.  So after that, whenever we saw soup of the day on a menu, she assumed it was really "broth of the day".


In the afternoon once all the laundry was done, we went back into the park.  Our shuttle driver today was pretty darn entertaining and had a very well timed monologue that went something like this:


"In Tasmania we have 3 species of snake.  There is the tiger snake which is the 5th most venomous snake in the world.  Then there is the copperhead which is the 12th most venomous snake in the world and we also have the venomous white-lipped snake.  Speaking of snakes, anyone want to get off at the next stop which is Snake Hill?"


The whole bus was silent at that point and nobody got off at the Snake Hill stop.  I thought it was pretty funny though and I bet the driver got a bit of a chuckle out of it too.


Instead, we got off at Ronny Creek and did some walking on the boardwalks.


Ronny Creek boardwalk


It wasn't long until we saw a wombat doing what wombats do; eating.


Ronny Creek Wombat


But, amazingly, this one actually stopped eating and went on a bit of a walk.  It must have seen some greener pastures somewhere else.


Wombat walking


Hilariously, one of the nearby signs had been "altered" to remove the "L" in  Wombat Pool which resulted in this sign that made us laugh:


What the sign really said...


However, I didn't think it was very accurate so I made an adjustment to better reflect where to go if you wanted to find wombat poo:

What the sign should have said


We ended up walking up towards Waldheim's Cabin to use the restroom up there which gave us a nice view of more of the boardwalks and the buttongrass.


More boardwalks


Fields of buttongrass


I think because Karen had to pee more than I, she was in the lead walking up the boardwalk which hardly ever happens.  Suddenly, I saw movement by her foot.  I said "freeze"...and she froze.  Right by her shoe was another white-lipped snake.  It didn't want anything to do with us and moved off quickly but not before I captured the moment (yes, that is old dried wombat poo on the boardwalk):

Venomous snake near Karen's foot


Here is a shot of Waldheim's Cabin:

Waldheim Cabin


And, here are shots of the wombats we saw around the cabin area.  So, the pee break really turned out to be a wise decision:




This one really had an itch that just couldn't be scratched.  First, it went the lazy route and just rubbed its hindquarters slowly on the tree:




That must not have worked because then it really got moving and shaking:



Then it broke down and used its sharp nails to take care of things.  First on one side:



Then on the other:



Finally, it must have hit the right spot because it stopped all the gyrations and sauntered away.


Back down at Ronny Creek, more wombats were out and close to the boardwalk like this one:

Like a teddy bear


We ended up seeing 11 wombats in 2 1/2 hours which is pretty darn good.


Since it was getting close to cocktail hour all civilized people such as ourselves headed back out of the park.  As we walked from the shuttle stop back to Pepper's we came across this cute little pademelon:


Pademelon planning something?


Happy hour was nice and relaxing which made this observation at dinner even the more enjoyable.  From where I was sitting at dinner I could see a couple eating.  The back of the man was to me.  At one point, I saw him drop his napkin on the floor.  He quickly picked it back up.  A few seconds later, the napkin fell again but farther away.  So, he reached down and grabbed it again.  The woman didn't seem to even notice this.


Then it happened a 3rd time but the napkin was tossed so far away the man had to use his foot to retrieve it which he did.  A couple minutes later, the napkin went flying again and I could see the man's shoulders visibly slouch as he let out an exasperating sigh.  That is when he turned just enough for me to see the baby on his lap which had a big smile on its face.


I don't know what I found more amusing, the whole baby napkin tossing or the fact that the woman paid absolutely no attention and made no effort to help.  It was as if it was just business as usual for them.  Anyway, I explained the whole thing to Karen since she had her back to it and we both got a good laugh.


After dinner, we did a 2 hour night walk on trails around the lodge.  We first did the Killy Billy Track where we saw 5 brushies and 1 ringtail possum.  Then we walked through the grounds of the lodge where we saw 3 more brushies and 1 more ringtail.


Here is one of the ringtails which we were surprised to find high up on a bare tree.  When we first saw the eye shine we thought this might be an owl, but it wasn't to be.  We actually didn't see any owls on the whole trip.


Ring-tailed Possum


Finally, we did the Enchanted Walk where we encountered another brushie.  But, this one had a bit of attitude.  It was walking towards us on the boardwalk and really didn't look like it wanted to move out of the way.  So, we walked slowly toward it and when we got about 5 feet away it finally detoured slightly off the boardwalk. It walked around us and the whole time was given us the "old stink eye" as if we had greatly inconvenienced it by making it go around us.  This was just one more reason why I found the brushies so endearing.  They seemed to have real personality.


The last sighting of note that night happened at the ranger station at the entrance to the park.  I saw eye shine on the pavement that was different.  But, before we could get close enough to really see the animal it ran away.  It was too big for an eastern quoll so part of me thinks it could have been a spot-tailed quoll but that is likely wishful thinking.  When you aren't sure about an ID you should always go with the most common and likely least interesting species.  So, we are calling this a feral cat since we will never know for sure.

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@atdahl I am so enjoying your TR, the beautiful photos and entertaining narrative. 


3 tiered Russell Falls looks very impressive and thanks for Inala Karen’s tip about doing the walk in reverse, I must do that sometime. Lake Meadowbank puts on an impressive annual autumn show.


I can see that you are a talented wombat whisperer and really engaged with the species. 


Haven’t been to Cradle Mountain for years, I could be tempted by a generous post-Covid Peppers special, particularly if there is a chance a Pink Robin. I am so jealous of your close sighting, he really is ‘in the pink’. I can see why you were so pleased with the snake sightings at Cradle, I know the White-lipped snake as a Whip Snake. 

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A most entertaining trip report, populated by stunning photos and witty text. we've been a few times to Australia, but we've not seen an echidna nor a wombat nor a pot-bellied (oh i mean a red-bellied) pademelon nor the devils before. the first three are just adorable! and such an enchanting pink robin too.

tassie has always been on our  list, but Africa got into the way. we must return to Australia soon, and go further south from Melbourne very very soon (we hope!).

Thanks for sharing, and don't worry, I would have been there too with you on the overland track, doing marvellously well at 63km short of the full trail.  

Looking forward to more!

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Hahaha excellent amendment to the sign! Very accurate!! :lol:

And wow, I didn't realise that robin, or any interesting birds were a possibility on the Enchanted Walk. Besides currawongs we never saw any non-brown birds at Cradle. I was starting to think Tassie had no colour at all in their birds!

Very pretty robin!

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@Treepol, thanks so much.  Yes, I think you would enjoy a stay at Pepper's especially if they have any specials.  The location is perfect with all sorts of trails you can take around the lodge day or night.  As you can see, this part of the trip was purely focused on wildlife so it's great that you were able to inject some culture into our trip at the end. :)


@Kitsafari, thank you. A trip to Tassie should certainly be on your short list.  We found it so easy to get around and there is so much to see and do.  Not to mention the great food and people.


@monalisa, Yes I think the updated sign is more accurate.  I haven't seen that much poo around since our Kenya trip when we stopped for bush breakfasts under trees and had a hard time finding a spot without loads of wildebeest poo.  Remember that? :D  I just looked back at all my photos and you are right about Cradle Mountain.  The only other bird photos I have are of the currawong and native hen.  There were other birds along the Enchanted Trail for sure but all were pretty dull looking especially compared to the pink robin.

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Tasmania Day 13 - Northern Tasmania


Another dawn came and went today as we slept in again and enjoyed a leisurely 8:30AM breakie.  We had a great 3 nights at Cradle Mountain where we saw everything that we had hoped to see and more.  So, we were excited to move on to our next destination today.


We checked out of Pepper's around 10AM and headed north.  I had an option written down to stop at a cave today to see glow worms but since we saw some at Mt Field, we decided to skip that.


Instead, we made a couple detours heading north that Inala Karen had mentioned which included a drive through Railton to see their topiary.  We found it OK thanks to Sheila even though she was her usual bossy self on the way.


Welcome to Railton


Unfortunately, some of the more well known topiary like the train was not in great shape but we did find a couple that we thought were pretty cool.


Horse and Jockey


That's bull!


We stopped for lunch in Sheffield at a bakery.  When we arrived, the place was empty even though there was seating for close to 100 people.  I ended up getting another scallop pie (Yum!) and Karen got a toastie (Double yum!).  As we sat down to eat, people started filing in both doors.  In the space of 10 minutes the place became fully packed.  I can't say we have ever seen something like that before and it was hard to figure out.  Maybe some event nearby just ended?  In any case, my first pie was so good I decided to brave the line and get a beef pie as well which ended up being really good too.


After the nice lunch fill up we headed to the Tasmanian Arboretum which is a known hot spot for Platypus.  But, we were arriving in the heat of the afternoon so who knows.  The lady at the ticket counter said they were usually out all day long so that was good to hear.  Since it was colder in Tasmania than on the the mainland, the platypus need to eat more and so they are out during the day feeding she said.  Hopefully, she would be right.


The arboretum has huge grounds that were filled with loads of bird life including some black swans.


Black Swan posing


There are a couple lakes where the platypus live and they even have a hide by one of the lakes.


Tasmanian Arboretum Lake


Platypus hide


I think we are getting close.


This looks better placed


Well, it didn't take long to find a platypus hanging out in the middle of the lake.  It would come up for air, float a bit, then dive down.  But, it was a bit far out for pictures.  So, we continued around the side of the lake until we found another one that was much closer.  What a cool looking animal:


Platypus alert!


Just floating around


Success!  Another mission accomplished.  Tasmania was being really good to us.  We ended up seeing three different individuals and had close looks at two of them.


Our accommodations for the evening were at Roosters Rest in Port Sorell where they have a couple of cottages.  Ours was really nice.


Rooster Rest Cottage




Living area


The plan for the rest of the day after dropping our stuff off in our cottage was to go to Narawntapu NP and do some hiking and wildlife watching.  But, since there is no place to get food anywhere near the park we needed to pick something up to go.  So, we decided to go to a place relatively near by called Latrobe Takeaway.  It ended up being located in a residential area and at first I thought Sheila was leading us on a wild takeout chase.


We went inside and took a look at the menu that was posted on the wall and honestly had no idea what most of the stuff was.  Here's the menu, try and figure out what all these things are:


We have no idea what we just ordered


There was one lady working there and when we asked what was good she just said "everything" in a thick Aussie accent.  So, then we asked what she would recommend she ended up asking other people waiting who were regulars and then mentioned a few things that we really didn't understand.


Feeling a bit pressured to order since people were waiting,  Karen asked about the chicken fillet that was on the menu.  The lady just looked at her and said "the what?".  "Chicken fill-lay" Karen responded.  The lady shrugged and obviously didn't understand.  So, then Karen pointed at the menu and said "the 3rd chicken item from the top.  You know, a fill-lay".  The lady turned and said "Oh, the chicken fill-it".  Then she proceeded to walk to the freezer and pull out a frozen breaded chicken pattie and held it up for us to see.  "Chicken fill-it" she exclaimed smiling.


The lady ended up doing a bit of a custom order for Karen since she put together a chicken fill-it wrap.  But, I wanted to try something else so I just order 3 things from the menu hoping they would be decent.  Everything appeared to be deep fried so there was little choice when it came to healthy items.  After placing our order I said to Karen that "I have no idea what I just ordered".  When our order was ready I still had no idea what it was since it was all bagged up when it was handed to us.  I guess I would find out soon enough though.


Narawntapu NP is supposed to be known as the "Serengeti of Tasmania" because there are so many animals there.  But, the wombats recently got wiped out by mange I believe so there was no chance of seeing any of them.  However, the whole area was supposed to be good for tasmanian devil.  The road signs leading to the park seemed to reinforce that idea.


No one slowed down :(


We arrived at the park just after 5 PM so the visitor center was closed.  We decided to sit in the car and have our deep fried dinner which turned out to be OK, but nothing special.  But, we are not huge deep fried food people so maybe all that fat and calories was wasted on us. When we were done, it was time to try to burn off a tiny portion of dinner.


As was the case at all Aussie parks we visited, there was great signage so we headed out on one of the trails.  There was a lot of wildlife around but it wasn't quite like the Serengeti.


A very grey, red-necked wallaby




Green Rosella


However, we did get some great looks at the eastern grey kangaroo here which was really nice.


Eastern Greys Foraging


Check out the tail


We decided to hike out to a birding blind to see if that provided any good looks at wildlife. However, when we got there the water had all dried up and there was no wildlife around anywhere.


When we hit the main trail again we had a choice of heading back to the left towards the visitor center or continuing on to the right.


Narawntapu Hikes


Both of us were tired so I asked Karen if she wanted to hike all the way to Archers Knob.  "I don't know" she said "that's a long way".  "What about if we just go to the tip of Archers Knob".  "OK, but just the tip of the knob" Karen said.  So, that is what we did.


There were a lot of cool trees along the hike:

Interesting trees


And even a few curious wallabies and roos:

Heads popping up everywhere


Eastern Grey Kangaroo


We doubled back to the visitor center where I took one last picture:

Aren't you too old for that?


On the way out of the park we headed towards a spot that used to have a colony of bettongs.  We pulled off up a dirt road and staked out the area while dusk turned to night.  We didn't see any movement so we got out and walked the road looking.  Nothing.  So, then we got back in the car and drove deeper into the forest and back...but still nothing.  It looks like the bettong colony was no more which is too bad since this was the only spot I knew of to try to find them.


On the way home we decided to do a prolonged night drive by backtracking to Narawntapu.  The suggested night speed limit is 45 km an hour which is still fast for trying to find night critters.  I found that 35 to km an hour was better so as not to run into anything on the road.  Unfortunately, all the locals still drove the posted 80 km per hour so the road to and from the park ended up not being very good for night driving since I was always getting run down and had to constantly pull over.  We did manage to see 8 brushies on the drive but nothing new.


This stretch of road had lots of roadkill so it was a shame to see people driving so fast at night.  I guess if I lived there and had to drive this road daily driving slow might get old but I would be devastated if I hit and killed anything especially something rare.  Tasmania definitely has a huge roadkill problem from what we saw and the only solution is for people to drive slowly at night but that just doesn't seem to happen.


Anyway, the highlight of the drive is when we stopped in Narawntapu and just happened to park the car facing the direction of the rising moon.  We could see brightness on the horizon and sat there watching the almost full moon slowly come up.   It looked huge and I can't say we have actually ever really watched the moon rise before like that.  It was a very cool way to end the day.

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Tasmania Day 14 - Northern Tasmania


It goes without saying that we slept in again today and didn't leave Roosters Rest until 9:30 AM.  It's a tough life isn't it?


The plan was to head to Warrawee Forest Reserve to do a little hiking and look for more platypus.  However, both Sheila and Google maps couldn't find the place so we drove around a lot until I just decided to head down a road on a hunch and found it no problem.  So much for technology.


Warrawee has great facilities and is a popular mountain biking area but they have a main paved trail that goes about 5 km along a river.  It's a really nice track and should be good for a night walk so we planned to return later that night.


Warrawee Forest Reserve


Platypus river


Warrawee Trail


Little Pied Cormorant:

Little Pied Cormorant


The walk was very relaxing but we didn't see a lot of wildlife.  That changed when we returned to the parking lot and Karen found what she thought was one snake.  But, as we examined the snake we realized that there were two tails.  It was actually two snakes mating.  I took a few pictures to try to ID them but since we knew they were venomous no matter what they were we didn't get too close:


Mating Lowland Copperheads


It wasn't until they uncoupled and I got a shot of the head of one that we were able to positively identify them as lowland copperheads:


One of the most venomous snakes in Australia


What a cool event to witness.  It's only the 2nd time we have seen snakes mating.


As we drove out of the parking lot I cruised slowly along the river and we were able to see two different platypus but they were too far away for pictures.


We had lunch in Latrobe at Belly's Bar and Grill which was very nice.  There was some great people watching in the grill today including a couple that was sipping champagne and appeared to be celebrating something.  The woman was dressed up a bit and was in full makeup. The man was wearing flip flops, dirty shorts, and a white tank top.  It was quite the juxtaposition.  I was secretly hoping that he would hold his pinky out while sipping his champagne but that didn't happen.


It was during this lunch that I overheard some people talking about the coronavirus and hoarding at grocery stores.  We had been without internet for much of the trip and even when we had it I make it a point not to do anything on my phone except check email.  Back at Roosters Rest that night though, I did read the news to get caught up on all the craziness in the world.  It was depressing and I decided not to say anything to Karen since there was nothing we could do about any of it anyway.


After lunch, we returned to Warrawee to look for snakes again since we now had a new mission which was to find a tiger snake that would enable us to complete seeing all three species.  But, no luck.  However, we did notice a sheep carcass in a nearby field and decided that we needed to stake that out tonight to see if anything comes to it.  We also scouted a place called Pitcairn Bush Reserve to be sure we found it OK since we also planned a night walk there and didn't want to be searching for it in the dark.  Sheila had proven to be less than reliable. I had read online that someone spotted a southern brown bandicoot at Pitcairn which is how it got on my radar.


With our after dark plans all set, we decided to spend the rest of our daylight hours at Narawntapu NP.  When we got there the eastern grey kangaroos had moved on and were in an entirely different field, but we still found them.




Eastern Greys


While they looked very graceful as they bound across the grassland:



In motion...


They don't look graceful at all when they lie down:

Sitting a bit awkwardly


It was interesting that they always knew where we were and would easily spot us from great distances.


Watching us


There were some wallabies around as well:

Another head popping up


Where's Wallaby?!

Where's Wallaby?


We decided to leave Narawntapu before dark and enjoyed another nice meal at Belly's in Latrobe.  My seafood fettuccine was especially good.


We had a double night walk planned tonight and started it back at Warrawee with a carcass stakeout.  A nice dinner followed by a carcass stakeout.  I sure know how to treat a lady don't I?


Nothing came to the carcass so after close to an hour of waiting we decided to head out for a spotlight walk.  Warrawee was alive at night.





We saw 6 additional brushies and 3 ring-tailed possums along the walk.  But, we also encountered a few other critters.  I heard some movement in a nearby bush and went to investigate.  But, we couldn't figure out what the animal was since it was not behaving like anything we had heard before. It wouldn't run but we would hear a loud thump every now and again.  Finally, we got enough of a look to figure out that it was a potoroo and there were two of them.  Instead of bolting like a pademelon would, they would just dart a few feet away and thump which I guess was a warning sign.


Right at the end of the hike, I saw something dart from one tree to another and was able to get some light on it and figure out that it was a sugar glider:

Sugar Glider


Sugar Glider


Hopping on soapbox: While the sugar glider is native to mainland Australia, it is an invasive species on Tasmania and is a notorious bird egg eater so we weren't that excited to see it here.  While we love animals, we don't love seeing them where the don't belong and have no issues with efforts to get rid of non-native species.  As cat lovers, that is hard to say but feral cats don't belong in Tasmania (or mainland Australia for that matter) and need to be remove since they are killing so many native species there. Hopping off soapbox.


Next it was off to Pitcairn which is a patch of forest in a residential area.  So, it was a bit weird hearing barking dogs and even partying people (this was before the whole social distancing thing started).  They even had little markers with maps on them every now and then which was nice.


Pitcairn Bushland Reserve (great night walks)


We quickly forgot about the noises coming from the houses nearby because Pitcairn was alive with eye shine.  It seemed that everywhere we looked there were eyes looking back at us from the trees. It was literally like a scary Halloween painting in there except it wasn't scary at all, it was really cool.  We soon lost count after 15 brushies and 10 ringtails.


Ring-tailed Possum


So, we decided to just concentrate our search to the ground since bandicoots were the real goal of the walk.  We wound around the trails for a while but didn't have any luck with bandicoots.  We would have stayed longer but we actually needed to get up "early" the next day and didn't want to make it too long of a night.


However, the day was capped off nicely when Karen spotted an eastern barred bandicoot frolicking on the grass as we drove home.  While Latrobe doesn't really get much press we found it to be a great base to explore Narawtapu, Warrawee and Pitcairn.  We could have easily spent another day in this area.

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Tasmania Day 15 - Scottsdale Area


Yes, we had to set that dreaded alarm today since we needed to be out of our place by 7:45 AM.  But, the good news is that the reason for the early start was to pick up Tim and Andrea who were flying down for another long weekend with us.  It would be nice to have some additional company.


Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating today as we had on and off rain the whole drive down to Launceston airport.  When we picked them up, Tim was kind enough to offer to drive which gave me a break for the weekend and probably some piece of mind for them.


Of course, I had to introduce Tim to Sheila.  They seemed to hit it off right away as Sheila flawlessly navigated us to our first stop which was the RV park in Deloraine to look for platypus.  Tim and Andrea had success here the year before and got great looks from above since there are some bridges over the river there.


The rain had let up a little as we parked and walked down to the river.  Soon enough we spotted a platypus in the river.  Our timing was perfect because this platypus was slowly going downstream and would be under one of the bridges soon.  So, we hustled on top of the bridge and despite the light rain watched the platypus as it drifted beneath us.  It really was a great angle.


After the 1st platypus moved away downstream we spotted a 2nd one that did the exact same thing.  I got some pictures as it went under the bridge this time since the rain was even lighter at this point.


Another Platypus


Top down view


It was not great conditions for good photos however.


After a really nice eggs benedict and toastie lunch at The Deloraine Deli, we headed east.  A place I had noted as an option for a quick stop was the Tamara Island Wetlands.  So, Tim plugged the information into Sheila and once again she got us there without any incidents.  Tim did experience her double beeping "too fast" warning a few times but it seemed subtler to me almost like a "love you" instead.  Now, I don't want to say that Sheila liked Tim better than me but I was starting to get that feeling...


Anyway, when we arrived it was still raining.  However, Tim braved the elements to go out and take a look to see if anything was around.  Not much was but Tim did confirm that the area lived up to its name of "wet-lands".  From here we continued east towards Scottsdale.


Of course, the conversation turned to the coronavirus today since Tim and Andrea were much more in tune with what was going on than we were.  This was especially true for Karen who got to hear about everything for the first time. But, since it was all out of our control at this point, we didn't worry about it too much.


Since our next accommodations didn't offer a breakfast, we decided to stop in Scottsdale for some groceries to make our own breakfasts for a couple days.  When we got to the Woolworth's in Scottsdale many of the shelves were picked clean of the same items that had been hoarded elsewhere in the world.  So, Tasmania was obviously not going to be exempt from this.  We did manage to find breakfast supplies with no difficulty however.


Since we were in Scottsdale, Tim thought it would be good to try some local beer.  So, we stopped at  a liquor store (you can't buy alcohol in grocery stores there) for some beer.  After a lot of conversation with the owner we picked a local brew which we were looking forward to trying later that day.


We had almost reached Derby when we spotted an echidna on the side of the road.  But, it was still raining and when we approached the echidna it pretty much hunkered down. Since we thought we might be disturbing it a little we moved on.  But, it was nice to at least see one together since the four of us looked pretty hard in Victoria and had come up empty.


We arrived at the very nice Derby Cabins which are located in the woods outside of Derby.  Since the weather was still iffy when we arrived I ended up taking my B-roll shots the next day.


Our next stop


The cabins


They have 3 identical cabins all of which are very nice and comfortable.







After settling in, we met at the gazebo near our cabins which is a really nice place to socialize.

The Gazebo


Tim and I tried a couple of the beers and the verdict was...blah.  They were nothing special and Tim thought they were "flat" so we didn't even drink them all.  In fact, I think we left them in the gazebo when we checked out.


The rain had let up by dinner time and we headed into Derby and ate at The Hub which is a nice pizza place.  We all must have been pretty hungry because not only did we devour our individual pizzas (well, Karen didn't quite finish hers) but we also ordered and shared a huge dessert apple calzone.  I think I still might be a little full from that meal...


After it got dark we decided to do a night drive and walk on the roads near the cabins.  We saw 10 brushies and the usual pademelons and wallabies but nothing else.  Overall, the night walk summed up the day pretty fittingly since they both were relatively quiet on the wildlife front.

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Tasmania Day 16 - The Quoll Patrol


We had another lazy morning since we didn't plan to meet until 9AM.  After breakfast, I walked around the cabins a bit but didn't see any interesting wildlife of note.


At 9AM, we decided to cruise the roads looking for echidna or anything else that popped up.  We did that for a couple of hours but also saw nothing of note.  Derby, while great for mountain biking apparently, was not very good for wildlife so far.


We had a nice toastie lunch at a cafe in Derby.  As we were leaving, we all piled into the car and noticed a elderly gentlemen with an even more elderly looking dog next to us.  The poor little dog was skinny and shaking as it stood there obediently.  That's when Andrea made the comment that "You can tell that he's old because of the white hair on its face".  Well, I turned around to prominently display my salt and pepper facial hair, which is getting saltier by the year, and said "Oh really?".  Then we all started laughing.  You can't do anything about getting older except laugh at it, right?


After that we headed to the Ledgerwood Tree Carvings.  It was here that we would meet our Pepperbush guide at 1PM to head out on the tour that we booked.  The tour was called The Quoll Patrol and I hoped it would be a good opportunity to see some wildlife.


The tree carvings themselves were pretty interesting.


Tree Carving Plaque


Legerwood Carved Memorial Trees


Legerwood Carved Memorial Trees


Legerwood Carved Memorial Trees


We were met early by the owner of Pepperbush who would be taking us to their Scottsdale office to hook up with Ben who would be our guide.  On the way there, we stopped at a pond to look for platypus and quickly found one:


Our last platypus


It sounds like Pepperbush has access to lots of both public and private ponds in the area so they guarantee platypus if you book a tour with them.  While it was nice to see what would turn out to be the last platypus of the trip, we were hoping to see some new wildlife today.


We met Ben around 1PM and piled into his vehicle for what turned out to be a 4 hour drive to the Pepperbush cabin in the woods.  On the way, we did make a couple stops.  The first was at Ben Lomond NP which was very scenic but the clouds were obscuring the best views from the top.


Ben Lomond NP


It was actually really cold at the top so it made sense that there was a ski lift up there.  They can apparently get quite a bit of snow.  We were surprised to spy a wombat at the top of the mountain but it didn't stick around at all.  There was a wallaby with a thick winter coat that did however.


High elevation wallaby


It's checking me out


The second and third stops we made on this drive were when we spotted echidnas. We actually ended up spotting two of them in different locations but only the 2nd one posed for good pictures.


Our last echidna


A flower in its quills


The moment was ruined a bit when Ben walked over behind the echidna and picked it up.  We quickly voiced protests and he put it back down.  Between the long drive and this I was starting to get a bad feeling about this tour.


Just before we reached the Pepperbush cabin, Ben let us out so we can walk a bit on the road while he went ahead to prepare the cabin for our arrival.  The cabin sits on land owned by a timber company but Pepperbush leases it from them for their tours.  No hunting is allowed on this land which means that there was lots of wildlife here.


Wallaby Road


Wombat chilling


Back-lit Wallaby


Wallabies everywhere



As we approached the cabin, there were a couple huge cape barren geese there.


Cape Barren Goose


There also was a large group of eastern grey kangaroos.  I had read about this group before the trip and knew that they were rehabilitated and released in this area.  I had also read that they do get some food to supplement their wild diet.  So, I wasn't surprised when I saw them all gathered around the front of the cabin eating.  These were basically habituated kangaroos and they were quite tame.


Eastern Grey Kangaroo


At attention


Will David beat Goliath?

David vs. Goliath



And David wins...


One of the roos was particularly friendly and Ben mentioned that he liked to have his upper chest rubbed.  At first I wasn't really interested in doing this but the roo kept coming up to us and really wanted a scratch.  So, I eventually relented and started to scratch him.  As soon as I did, he threw his head back in ecstasy.  He really enjoyed the scratch and we all got a kick out of his reaction.  Fittingly, we called him Pat after this.


We also witnessed a great example of Newton's 3rd Law of Motion which is basically that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  Well, the opposite reaction from scratching Pat and him throwing his head back is that he would then poop.  Scratching chest resulting in pooping roo.  It happened just about every time.  Pat certainly was entertaining.  I think he was a bit of a diva too because he ended up sticking around longer than the other kangaroos and even did a little sunbathing.  Nice nails...


Just chillin'


While we don't like harassing or being too close to wildlife, it was nice having this tame kangaroo walking among us so that we could get really good looks at him.  One thing that stood out was his huge middle toes.  I certainly wouldn't want to get kicked in anger by a kangaroo.


That foot can do damage


Once all of us had given him a scratch Pat seemed satisfied and ended up hopping away to a nearby field where the other kangaroos had gone.


While the petting zoo was going on, Ben talked about the evening and that's when it became apparent that we weren't going anywhere to look for wildlife.  Worse still, he had already laid out food for the nocturnal animals and ended up laying out more of the dinner that we didn't finish.


The 4 course dinner was quite good and included wallaby meatballs, (no, we didn't eat any meatballs with any actual wallabies around) salmon, and a nice dessert.  But, as I mentioned, there was some food that we didn't finish that Ben put out on nearby fallen trees.  Once it started to get dark, he also put up lights which turned the fallen trees into a stage.  For the rest of the evening, we sat in silence as some brushies and quolls came onstage to the bait.


Yes, this is a picture of a brushie eating salmon which certainly is not part of its wild diet:

Possum eating salmon?


I only ended up taking a couple pictures because to me this was not a wild experience and more like a zoo feeding.  We did have both light and dark morph quolls come.  They were not as tame as the brushie and did a lot of circling around before coming to take the bait.  They also avoided being in the light as much as possible.


Eastern Quoll


We eventually packed up and Ben drove slowly in the fields around the cabin as he headed back to the road.  There was wildlife everywhere.  Wallabies, wombats, pademelons and more. The property was certainly packed with macropods.  It's just a shame that we didn't have any opportunity to spotlight around the area.


On the way back to our car in Ledgerwood, Ben drove incredible fast. He was probably just going the daytime speed limit but that is way too fast at night.  We barely missed a handful of animals on the road thanks to him swerving although I am pretty sure we did hit one brushie.


Now, the one positive from this fast driving is that we all got a look at a wild tasmanian devil  crossing the road that we wouldn't have seen if we weren't at that location at that moment in time.  As it was, we only had a few seconds of viewing before the devil had crossed and was gone.  But, there was no mistaking what it was.


Looking back, we have mixed feelings about this tour.  On the plus side, we did enjoy the cabin property and all the wildlife they had there.  In addition, we did enjoy hanging out and interacting with Pat and of course we did have a nice meal and a fleeting glimpse of a wild tasmanian devil.


But, (and that's a HUGE but) we were not expecting a 4 hour drive to the cabin, our guide harassing an echidna by picking it up, baiting of the nocturnal wildlife, and an obstacle course race home afterwards.  This is especially disappointing because this tour costs $500 a piece and there was no mention in their literature about them baiting mammals.  If there was, we certainly wouldn't have booked this tour since that is a practice that we are very much against.  So, while some people may be fine with all of this, it definitely wasn't for us and ended up being the only major disappointment the whole trip.

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I am rejoining / catching up on this excellent TR @Atdahl.


Thanks for all the valuable trip planning info - including the 'ethical warning' about Pepperbush and their guide(s).

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Wow, I'm really surprised by that tour - baiting animals is not on and at that price I would have expected a lot more.  

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Thanks @offshorebirder and @shazdwn


In case we didn't see any quolls on Bruny Island (now I know that you have to work REALLY hard NOT to see any there) I wanted a backup plan and it seemed like having a guide take us on a "Quoll Patrol" to look for them was a worth the cost.  Plus, Pepperbush has just about all 5 star reviews when you look online.  In hindsight, I guess I should have done more research and maybe the warning signs would have been more apparent that this tour was not a "wild" experience.  But, we still did enjoy aspects of the tour so it wasn't a complete waste of money.  I see so much more potential with the incredible property they have access to so maybe they will take advantage of that someday.

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I am really enjoying your report. Echidna and Wombats must be very high on the World’s Cutest Mammals list!

You certainly saw a great selection of wildlife. I have enjoyed your encounter with Australian English. I always enjoy coming across different versions of the language in different countries. It is a very flexible language.


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On 6/7/2020 at 12:05 AM, Atdahl said:

The poor little dog was skinny and shaking as it stood there obediently.  That's when Andrea made the comment that "You can tell that he's old because of the white hair on its face". 


ARGHAHAHAHAHA!!! I had forgotten that moment. OMG that was hilarious. That poor pitiable dog. And poor Alan :lol:


As always, great photos! Especially loved seeing Warrawee and places we had missed.

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@TonyQ, thanks and I agree.  Don't forget about the koalas too.  The cutest factor was off the charts this trip. :)


@monalisa, Yeah I would have forgotten all about that little sighting too if I didn't write things down each day.  Because, you know, the memory goes right after the facial hair on us "old" people...:D 

We really enjoyed Warrawee both day and night.  I am sure the locals know how nice it is and it's a definite stop if you get to that area again.

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Tasmania Day 17 - The East Coast


Today would be a day of driving.  We had to go from Derby all the way to Freycinet with a few stops in between. When we planned the itinerary we knew that we planned a lot today and probably weren't going to spend enough time at any one location.  But, looking back I think we did OK and don't think we really missed a lot.  Although, I am sure there are really nice areas that we didn't even know to go see.


In any case, the first stop along our drive was at the Bay of Fires.  This really is a pretty area and even though we only made a couple stops I think we saw a lot.


Bay of Fires


Bay of Fires Scenery


More Bay of Fires


The Bay


OK, last one


Contrary to what you might think, the Bay of Fires didn't get that name from the bright orange lichen on the rocks.  Instead, it was named by a ship caption in the late 1700's after all the fires of aboriginal people on the beaches.  Go figure.


We had another really nice lunch at a restaurant in the area.  I forget the name of this place but I enjoyed their marketing out front.


Luckily, we didn't takeaway any gas


Luckily none of us had any "takeaway gas" that I know of...


Even though we had driven a long way and had obeyed Tim by keeping our eyes peeled, we didn't see any echidna along the road.  But, it was at some point after lunch while we were driving that Sheila made a weird noise and a message popped up on her screen that said something like "Tim dear, you have been driving for a long time and you must be tired.  Should I look for a place to pull over so you can rest?".


Well, maybe I exaggerated a little bit but a message actually did pop up about us driving for a long time and did we want to rest.  I had MUCH longer driving days than this and Sheila NEVER cared about MY well being.  So, now I knew for sure that she liked Tim better than me.  Jealous?  Yup, I was a bit.


We arrived at Freycinet around 4PM and after checking in at the lodge we made a bee-line for the lookout walk to get some exercise and enjoy the view.


Time to hike to the lookout



But, there were lots of stairs between us and that view.

Going up...and up...


Once we got up there, the view was nice but it was also crowded so we didn't stick around too long.  

View from the lookout


After returning to the lodge, we met for dinner as the sun was going down and I took one last picture for the day to remember the scene:

Freycinet sunset


Once it got dark we did both a night drive and a night walk in the area.  We had heard that there was a possibility of seeing pygmy possum along the coast but no one at the lodge had any idea of where to look.  So, we just headed out on our own but we saw nothing but a few brushies.  We were home well before 10PM which was pretty early.


But there was some excitement today, because as I was putting on my sweats to go to bed a used band-aid popped out.  It's the one from the beginning of the trip that I used on my leech bite that I thought I left way back at Clarendon Cottages.  So, we didn't leave them with a souvenir after all which is nice.  And yes, I know what this little find says about the frequency of me washing those sweats on vacation...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well unfortunately, this report has gotten derailed.  There is a bad wildfire in the Tucson area and we had to be evacuated for a few days.  This is not what you want to see from your house as you quickly pack up and leave.  But, we are back home now on alert with bags packed by the door.  However, the worst of the fire is well past us and only a few hot spots remain visible on the mountains around our home so we are feeling much better about things.  We can't wait to get back to "normal" pandemic life though...




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Yikes!! Glad you and your home are safe. I hope the wildfire season isn't too bad out there this year.




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I was wondering about you guys when I heard about the fire in the Catalina foothills. Yikes is right. Glad you were able to go back home.

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