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Atdahl

First Trip To Australia: Tasmania and Victoria

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Atdahl

Thanks @janzin.  Well, if June is any indication, it will be a bad wildfire year in the west unfortunately.  We thought we sort of escaped these when we moved from California to Arizona.  I guess not...:(

 

@Patty, thanks and yes the fire has burned a lot of the Santa Catalina mountains.  Catalina State Park has been closed for almost two weeks (where we hiked together).  Each day things seem to get a bit better for us so that is good.  

 

But, enough bad things.  Time to get back to the best thing that happened to us in 2020...Tasmania!

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Atdahl

We had to get up a bit earlier than normal today.  But, since "normal" had been sleeping in most of the time, we didn't mind.  The early start was due to the fact that we needed to catch the 10:30AM ferry to Maria Island and the ferry dock was about 1.5 hours away.  Originally, we had actually planned to take the 9:30AM ferry but changed our minds the day before to avoid what would have been a really big rush to get there since our lodge didn't serve breakfast until 7AM.

 

So, instead we leisurely enjoyed the Freycinet Lodge buffet breakfast and then headed south at about 8:15 AM.

 

The ferry leaves from the town of Triabunna.  However, since there is no food or drink on the island we needed to make a stop before getting on the ferry to pick up supplies for lunch.  We grabbed sandwiches at a store in Triabunna.  I elected to have my toasted of course but Karen must not have been fully awake yet since she didn't.  She regretted that decision later on when it was time to eat them.

 

I thought about getting some dessert at the store too but the choices all looked so good that I couldn't decide.  I believe that Andrea samples one or two of these so I wonder which was her favorite:

Decisions... decisions...

 

Despite the badly composed photo, here is a shot of the ferry arriving:

Ferry to Maria Island

 

The ferry ride itself is about 30 min and was quite comfortable.  The crossing can get rough I guess but it was very calm for both our trips.  We disembarked and read some of the signage about the island:

Maria Island NP

 

Right after the signs, the official Maria Island welcoming committee said hello.  The committee consisted of a mother and juvenile wombat:

Get ready for more wombats!

 

Mama and baby

 

Of course, they were inundated by everyone getting off the ferry.  After all the commotion and idiotic selfies, people moved on and we were able to enjoy the wombats with only a couple other people.

 

Junior was following very closely behind mamma but both were very used to people and weren't bothered by our presence at all.

 

Just a little nudge

 

Time to stop and smell the flowers:

Smelling the flowers

 

But, only for a second as there is lots of grass to eat:

Lots of eating...

 

Still eating...

 

These wombats had very light colored fur which was due to them being out in the sun so much.

 

Quick break and then...

 

Andrea and I spent a while jockeying for good shots and we both were hoping to get at least one of the wombats with the water in the background.  This is the best that I could do:

Back to eating.

 

And to conclude the photo shoot, here are a couple of wombutts:

Wombutts!

 

We spent so long with those two wombats that we figured we didn't have time to do any major hiking loops.  Plus, Tim was concerned about getting "poo sock".  You see, he left his driving shoes on for this trip instead of changing into his hiking shoes.  The problem was that his driving shoes had a whole in the sole.  This led to the concern about "poo sock" and a very unique walking style to combat that concern.

 

But, after lunch we did walk up to the Fossil Cliffs.  On the way, we found this guy sleeping in the shade:

Siesta time

 

It woke up and groggily sauntered off across the trail:

wakie wakie

 

Besides wombats, Maria Island is also known for its cape barren geese and an introduced disease free population of tasmanian devils.  We saw some geese and did wander around the buildings hoping to spot one of the devils that purportedly lived there but came up empty.

 

On the 2 PM ferry ride back to Triabunna we heard that others did spot a devil right out in the open.  So, it is possible to see them during the day on Maria Island.

 

After getting back to our car we drove the final hour or so to the Hobart airport.  It was during this drive, I believe, when I saw a sign for a 9 hole golf course and made some comment about it.  Without missing a beat Tim makes the following announcement "You know, people have 9 holes".  He paused for a bit to let that sink in and then proceeded to count them off.  What do you know, he was right and we all got another big laugh out of it.  Ah, we will miss that sense of humor!

 

Reluctantly we dropped Tim and Andrea off at the airport for their return flight to Sydney.  While we didn't see a ton of new wildlife this weekend, we sure had fun with them again. Some day we hope to travel with them again once traveling is possible again that is.

 

We continued on to the Tasman Peninsula where we would be spending our last two nights.  We were staying at Mason's Cottages which were very nice but I completely forgot to take pictures of  the place.  Shame on me.  We talked with the owners a bit about the local wildlife and mentioned that we were after tiger snake and pygmy possum.  They gave us a couple tips and said they would contact a local wildlife expert and ask them as well.

 

We had dinner at the Fox and Hounds pub and I finally tried the schnitzel that I had seen carried by me at many other restaurants.  Luckily, my schnitzel wasn't as big as others I had seen (Wait...should I be sharing that?) so I had no problems finishing it.

 

As I mentioned, the Tasman Peninsula is supposed to be another good place to look for pygmy possum so based on some pre-trip research I had done we headed out for a combination night drive and walk along Salt River Rd.  We ended up at the old coal mine location for a walk which was pretty cool and a little spooky at the ruins themselves.  We saw over 10 brushies but not much else.

 

However, we did see 3 feral cats and a bunch of feral rabbits which is not a good sign for the native wildlife.

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CheetahFan

@Atdahl sorry to hear about the recent fires which came in close proximity to your house! I hope they don't come back, and the local ecosystem isn't harshly affected.

 

Thanks for writing the trip report, it is so great to have a record of everything that happened. We had alot of fun with you guys too, I hope there is another trip in our future! I could easily go back to Kenya and do the exact same thing again, haha.

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Atdahl

Thanks @CheetahFan.  Things are looking better now since the number of hot spots we can see from the house keeps diminishing daily.  Hopefully, we will get taken off of alert and be able to unpack our bags soon.

 

Yes, we hope there is another trip in our future as well.  But, it will likely be a while before we are able to travel internationally.

 

OK, only one day left in the report so I better get on it...:)

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Atravelynn
Posted (edited)

I can see you had an excellent trip, filled with many species, but just the Echidna alone had to make the trip worthwhile and wipe away any bad memories from previous travel.

 

The wombat is really over the top!  It's great the DBP helped make your trip a mission accomplished.

 

In addition to your glossary of terms, I think I'd need an animal glossary for a trip like yours, and study it in advance.

Edited by Atravelynn

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Atravelynn
On 4/25/2020 at 9:04 PM, Zubbie15 said:

 

 

You may answer this later on, but did the fire damage impact you at all? 

I had the same question.  The fact that the fires did not have much of an effect on your trip is good for those areas, the people, the flora and fauna.  Ironically this trip, or at least the report, did suffer an impact from fires.

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Hads

Wonderful report and fantastic photo's thankyou @Atdahl

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janzin

That does it, I think I'm just in total love with Wombats. MUST GO TO TASMANIA!!

 

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Atdahl

@Atravelynn, yes it is a bit ironic that we saw no fire impacts during our trip but had impacts here at home.  The echidna is certainly a cool and unique looking animal.  It makes me want to go to New Guinea to try to find the long-beaked echidna but that seems to be a challenge beyond us right now.

 

Thanks @Hads

 

@janzin, yes I think you need to go.  Not only are the mammals extraordinary but the birds are fantastic as well.  Plus, no monkeys! :D  Not to mention the great people, great food, and you can self drive.

With wombats, it's truly love at first sight because the are ADORABLE!

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Atdahl

Tasmania Day 19 - The Last Day

 

Today was our last full day of the trip.  So, we celebrated it by sleeping in again and having a nice leisurely breakfast that we had picked up at a store yesterday.

 

Today we would be meeting up with an online friend from Safaritalk.net.  When we first mentioned our planned trip to Tasmania, Denise, who lives in Hobart, reached out to us and offered to meet up.  We decided to do that on our last day on the Tasman Peninsula because she knew the area really well and could give us a back roads tour.

 

The problem was that I had issues arranging where and when to meet thanks to the Optus SIM card for my phone that I bought when we first arrived in Victoria.  I knew that card didn't have as good a coverage as Telstra but since Optus had a store at the Melbourne airport it was much more convenient to buy.  However, during our trip I found that I had no service more often than I had service.  In fact, Tim and Andrea's Telstra based phones seemed to always have coverage.  So, next time, I will figure out a way to get a Telstra SIM card.

 

In any case, Denise knew where we were staying and had called the office there.  So, we had a 9AM meeting time arranged at our cottage.  Before she arrived, the owners came over and mentioned that they had talked to their wildlife expert friend and we found out that the coal mine ruins were indeed a decent place to look for pygmy possum so we had chosen correctly the night before.

 

Denise arrived soon after and we did introductions before we set off with her to explore the back roads in the area.  She took us to off the beaten bath ruins and even a cemetery and talked about some of the history of the area.  It was really interesting.  Plus, we saw some great scenery, and echidna, and even some new birds.

 

There was a large low tide at the time we walked along this bay and it made for some great patterns in the sand:

 

Low tide

 

Low tide

 

I finally got a decent photo of a common bronzewing too:

Common Bronzewing

 

Sooty Oystercatcher:

Sooty Oystercatcher

 

Here is a shot of an old pier built by prisoners:

Old pier built by prisoners

 

We went back to the historic coal mine site which was nice to do during the daytime so that we could really see the ruins:

Historic coal mine site

 

The mines were worked by prisoners and some of the cells were still intact.  They were small and dark.  What, no Jacuzzi tub?

Prisoner cell

 

Australian Magpie:

Australian Magpie

 

Yellow Wattlebird:

Yellow Wattlebird

 

Some of the forest area around the coal mine site:

Tasman Peninsula

 

Little Wattlebird:

Little Wattlebird

 

Then we headed to the coast to check out Remarkable Cave.  It was a beautiful day and the coast looked magnificent:

More Tasman Coastline

 

Rugged Coastline

 

Tasman Peninsula Coast

 

The cave was named because of the opening of light that is in the shape of the island of Tasmania and while this picture doesn't really do it justice the opening very definitely looks like Tasmania:

Remarkable Cave (Opening shaped like Tasmania)

 

We had a nice lunch with Denise at the Lavender Farm and chatted about this and that.  She is a well seasoned traveler like us so it was fun to trade stories about past adventures and talk about hopeful future ones.

 

Denise took us back to our cottage where we said goodbye.  We had a very nice time with her and really appreciate her taking a day out of her life to drive down and give us a tour of the area.  It was the perfect end day to our trip.

 

Since we still had a few hours before dinner, we decided to head out to visit some of the scenic spots on the peninsula that we hadn't visited yet.  This included a stop at The Dog Line, to view the statue there which commemorates the vicious dogs that were staked up at a narrow point on the peninsula to stop any prisoners from escaping in that direction.

 

The Dog Line statue

 

Next we visited the Tessellated Pavement which was pretty interesting:

Tessellated Pavement

 

And finally, we stopped off at the Tasman Arch which was impressive as well:

The Tasman Arch

 

We decided to head to the Fox and Hounds again for dinner since most of the other restaurants open were a bit too fancy for our tastes.  When we got to the Fox and Hounds there was a sign out saying that they only had pizza available.  Luckily, that is exactly what we planned to order so it all worked out nicely.  Thank goodness that sign didn't say they were out of beer...

 

After dinner we did a long combo night drive and walk back along Salt River Rd all the way to the historic coal mine again.  Of course we saw a ton of brushies, pademelon and more feral cats and rabbits on the drive.  As we pulled into the dirt parking lot for the mine I saw a snake in front of the car.  We got out quickly and were able to identify it as a tiger snake before it moved off into the brush.  Nice!  We had officially completed the "slithering trifecta" by seeing all 3 species of Tasmanian snakes.

 

We spent a long time walking around the coal mine site looking for pygmy possum but couldn't find any.  Who knows if they are even really there but at least we tried.  On the slow drive back to the cottage, we saw some movement on the shoulder.  The little critter then ran across the road slowly enough to identify it as a southern brown bandicoot which was our last lifer mammal of the trip and gave us an even 20 species.  A Frogmouth greeted us back at the cottage and didn't even bat an eyelash as I drove slowly past it as it sat on the ground near a light looking for insects.

 

What a nice way to end the trip.  The final snake and a new mammal to boot.

 

We had to leave for the airport at 9 AM the next morning so that allowed for one last sleep in and leisurely breakfast.  At the airport, I returned Sheila to EuropCar and mentioned that she was a bit "bossy" but I said nothing about her apparent favoritism towards Tim. I didn't want to sound TOO crazy after all.

 

The flights home were fine.  The lounges, airports and flights themselves were virtually empty since  it was now March 18 and the coronavirus impacts were world wide.  We were lucky in that our trip wasn't impacted at all and was probably better since there were less tourists around.  However, we overhead many other people that had cut their vacations short and were returning home.  I was surprised that San Francisco had no special screening at all.  We got through immigration quickly and customs was actually closed so they waved us through.  This was in the middle of the afternoon during a pandemic.  I thought that was weird since we were bracing for a big hassle but we got just the opposite.

 

We got back home to Tucson and decided to stop at a grocery store on our way to pick up some supplies.  However, we arrived a few minutes before 9 PM and didn't realize they had changed their hours to close at 9 PM now.  We also were surprised to see most of the shelves empty.  So, we weren't able to get much in the way of supplies to feed ourselves and had to return to 2 separate stores the next day just to get groceries to last a few days.  We definitely returned to a different world that likely won't return to "normal" for a long, long time.

 

We had a wonderful time in Australia and really appreciated traveling in a country where we could drink the water, not worry about eating uncooked food, drive ourselves, and where the people spoke English (sort of  😀).  It was also made better by having Tim and Andrea join us for two separate weekends and for getting a special back roads tour from Denise on our last day.  We are not sure when we will be traveling next but going back to Australia is currently at the top of the list.

 

From a wildlife perspective, this was a really successful trip since we saw more mammals than expected and had a good tally of birds and a few reptiles as well.

 

20 native mammal species seen (all lifers):

Grey-headed Flying Fox

Black Wallaby

Brush-tailed Possum

Ring-tailed Possum

Koala

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Sugar Glider

Echidna

Water Rat

Red-necked Wallaby

Red-bellied Pademelon

Eastern Quoll

Australian Fur Seal

New Zealand Fur Seal

Long-nosed Potoroo

Eastern Barred Bandicoot

Common Wombat

Platypus

Tasmanian Devil

Southern Brown Bandicoot

 

7 reptile species seen (all lifers):

White's Skink

Tasmanian Tree Skink

Jacky Lizard

White-lipped Snake

Lowland Copperhead

Tiger Snake

Metallic Skink

 

82 lifer bird species seen:

Australian Wood Duck

Rainbow Lorikeet

Dusky Moorhen

Australian Magpie

Noisy Miner

Eastern Yellow Robin

Golden Whistler

Crimson Rosella

Laughing Kookaburra

Superb Lyrebird

Superb Fairy-wren

Rainbow Bee-eater

Singing Honeyeater

Pied Currawong

Magpie Lark

White-eared Honeyeater

Gang Gang Cockatoo

Yellow-faced Honeyeater

Grey Fantail

Red Wattlebird

Galah

Black Swan

Kelp Gull

Silver Gull

Pacific Black Duck

Native Hen

Chestnut Teal

Australian Pelican

Satin Flycatcher

Brown Falcon

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

Scarlet Robin

Little Penguin

Tawny Frogmouth

Dusky Woodswallow

Australian Pied Oystercatcher

Masked Lapwing

Pacific Gull

Greater Crested Tern

Hooded Plover

Green Rosella

New Holland Honeyeater

Tree Martin

Beautiful Firetail

Welcome Swallow

Yellow-throated Honeyeater

Yellow Wattlebird

Australian Swamphen

Silvereye

Pink Robin

Australian Shelduck

Tasmanian Scrubwren

Dusky Robin

White-browed Scrubwren

Little Pied Cormorant

Cape Barren Goose

Sooty Oystercatcher

Flame Robin

Black-faced Cormorant

Great Cormorant

Eurasian Coot

Little Wattlebird

Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike

Common Bronzewing

Grey Currawong

Olive Whistler

White-faced Heron

Grey Shrike Thrush

Black-headed Honeyeater

Striated Fieldwren

Shy Albatross

Short-tailed Shearwater

Australian White Ibis

Australasian Gannet

Little Black Cormorant

Little Corella

Striated Pardalote

Brown Thornbill

Tasmanian Thornbill

Forest Raven

Common Blackbird

Australian Pipit

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Caracal

Really enjoyed every aspect of this report - great photos and a fascinating and informative narrative laced with humorous observations.

Do hope those fires back home have been controlled now @Atdahl.

It was only after reading your impressive bird list that it dawned on me that there are no emus in Tasmania.

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Atdahl

Thanks @Caracal.  You are correct in that there are no emus on Tasmania.  I am sure you know that you can see them in Victoria but we never made it to any of the places where that is possible.  Just one more reason to go back to Australia.  We have seen rheas and ostrich so it would be nice to see all the world's large flightless birds someday.  Although I think Big Bird might be tough...:D

 

After two weeks of being on alert and having smoke to deal with, we have decided to unpack this weekend.  We plan to go back to "normal" pandemic life since we now see very little fire from our house.  Thanks for asking.

 

Alan

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Zubbie15

Really enjoyed your report @Atdahl, lots of good information and witty comments.  Definitely something I’ll return to for tips whenever we plan a return to Australia, as Tasmania would be high on our list of places to go.

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campsafari2015

Lovely report and narration! Feeling very inspired now to plan a trip there.

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shazdwn

Great report @Atdahl  You'll have to come and visit us in the north if you do make it back to Australia when we are allowed to travel again

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Atdahl

@Zubbie15, @campsafari2015 thank you.  Tasmania certainly deserves a high position on your list. It has it all from our perspective.

 

@shazdwn, thanks. Initially, the next Australia area on our list was Queensland then the Darwin area.  There is just so much to see and not enough time.   My wife and I have half joked that once we retire we should just head to Australia for 6 months and see all that we can see.  Once the world gets closer to international travel, I will likely look into all options.  So, you never know.  :)

 

Alan 

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Treepol

@Atdahl it was great to meet you and Karen and to spend the day exploring the Tasman Peninsula. Your wonderful photos have captured the colours and mood of the area very well.

 

I really must sign up as a safaripal and hopefully have the opportunity to meet more visiting STers.

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Atdahl

We had a great time with you too @Treepol.  You should definitely be a safaripal because we highly recommend your back roads tour. :)

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