Thurs 4th. Day 2 in Tas: Drove east not far to Trowunna Wildlife Park. This is a tassie devil specialist breeding park but also serves as a second chance for roadkill pouch young and broken-wing birds. They also had a couple of kookaburras with dislocated beaks. Apparently young kookaburras often screw up when trying to swoop on prey and scoop it up and they crash beak-first into the ground. Those who hit hard enough cannot feed properly. Kangaroos roamed and the thrity or so devils were divided up amonst enclosures all over the place. There were spotted quolls; a nocturnal house with (most charmingly) four sugar gliders; two wedge-tails rescued twenty years or more ago; other broken wing birds including a white gosshawk, some owls and parrots; and an echidna that we took forever to find because it had actually climbed the tree in the middle of its enclosure.
Eleven oclock was feeding time which started with two young wombat being brought out for a cuddle. The youngest was quite content to be cradled on his back like a baby. He had hiccups and this made him possible the cutest animal I have ever beheld first-hand. He looked like a happy fat buddha. The other was a bit shy and she tried to hide under armpits. In case you were wondering, wombats make great pets until they turn two when they get violent and independant and charge through walls and suchlike - ironically, this makes them perfect for rescued animals because they can be released much more confidently.
The devils were fed quartered pademelons (small wallabies) culled from neighbouring cattle farms. As with everywhere in Australia, opening up grassland has seen population explosions of grassland macropods. The farmers can cull, but I don't know the rules. The keepers don't use roadkill because they have no way of telling if a facial-tumour suffering devil has been at it already, thus pademelons are used for food for the uninfected. One of the enclosures had two males and six females - none of which we'd seen because they were all in burrows. Calling them out she coaxed one from the other side who loped up eagerly to the hind-quarter she was holding by the tail. This devil latched on and started growling. The keeper explained that this is what they do in the wild to call other devils to join in a tug-of-war because this is how they tear apart larger carcasses. Soon she was holding five devils all locked on and growling, and pawing at the meat and each other. The keeper showed a repectful wariness of these devils. The males are the ones with scars on thier hind-quarters because angry females who don't want to mate fight them off and bite them. Every so often one would be able to grab the lion's share and lope off growling usually pursued by one or two others.
Before this bunch she'd introduced us to a male who was a big softy who didn't mind being held and petted because he'd been rescue from the pouch at such a young age. He wandered around us sniffing our shoes much like a silent dog.
The drizzle we'd been walking around in had developed by the time we got to our next stop which was Alum Falls. These steeply folded limestone hills were cut by a river and the lookout provided a nice optical illusion wheer we both thought the river was flowing the other way until we worked out the seven sets of rapids weren't moving up the river. This place was a source of ochre.
On getting back in the car the Aunt proclaimed "Me pants are wet and me hair style's ruined!" She was loving it.
One of the focuses of this trip was to get fresh produce along the way, so we stopped by the roadside to hunter-and-gatherer some blackberries and look at flowers.
Did I mention how beautiful Tasmania is? No? Well, it's gorgeous. After Christmas I was burbling about how anyone who wanted to go to England to see rolling countryside should save money and just fly to Christchurch NZ and drive aorund the Canterbury Plain. Well, if you don't want to fly internationally then go to Tassie! The land is so fecund! Airfares being as cheap as they are, just go for an extended weekend even.
We stopped at Sheffield for lunch. The food was great at yet another awesome bakery. I had a pasty, a quiche and an eclair proclaiming that that would keep the Tasmania wolf from the door! Yeah. I don't know how I do it either. I mean, how can one *truly* explain talent? The town was pretty enough and had a whole bunch of murals on the buildings - if that's your thing. We bought cherries.
Out of town the eagle-eyes of the Aunt picked out the hand-written sign for fresh eggs in (I think) Forth.
'Probably they're cage eggs that they paint poo onto' suggested someone.
That night was in the caravan park of the seaside town of Ulverstone. Bass Strait was about thirty metres away. We inspected the surf and got our feet wet. Caroline went shopping to find fish for dinner. I took off afterwards to visit friends from my pub days who now lived in Burnie, leaving the Aunt to inspect the poo on the eggs.
Point form, Harry! Point form!