Wednesday, 08-10-2104. Day 49.
Before we left Wind Song after breakfast, we had to check on the wallabies in the field behind the place one last time. Even though it was daylight (wallabies typically don't show themselves until dusk), we managed to scare up one that went bounding off into the bush at high speed. Then we walked back to the Lodge and finished packing up the car while the girls got to feed the horse, named Mate, before we left.
When people go to Tasmania, they want to see Tasmanian devils. There are quite a few different places that promise the Tasmanian devil experience, and Natureworld, a wild animal sanctuary just a short drive up the east coast of Tasmania, fit neatly into our itinerary.
We checked in at Natureworld, got a couple of small bags full of food to hand-feed the free-roaming creatures, and set off to see some crazy marsupials. We immediately met some kangaroos, not the big red ones that get all the press, but the smaller eastern gray kangaroos (Forester kangaroos) that looked a lot like big wallabies.
These things lounged all over the park and acted a lot like dogs. They'd come right up to you, especially if you're holding a white bag full of food.
We walked around the place for a little while before the Tasmanian devils were scheduled to be fed. The amiable and loquacious biologist on duty told us a little bit about the spotted quoll, better known as the tiger cat, the closest living relative of the Tasmanian devil.
We also saw a few emus and an ostrich (a first!) as well as a whole passel of ducks and other waterfowl before walking to the Tasmanian devil pens in time for the feeding.
As cute as they are, they're also violent little things. They fight, bite, and scratch each other with much vigor, especially during feeding and mating. They're pretty noisy, too—growling, screeching, snuffling, and making all sorts of other noises that would unnerve most people if heard in the wild. Our biologist friend feeding the devils told us they have 20 different vocalizations.
Because of their combative behavior, the devils are very susceptible to spreading devil facial tumor disease, a contagious cancer that causes boils and lesions appear on the devil's face, eventually leading to death from starvation. It doesn't yet have a cure and has drastically reduced the number of devils in the wild, so places like Natureworld are working hard to build a population of healthy devils in captivity and keep them isolated them from the disease.
We also met Mabel, a Wombat that had been brought to the park as a baby. She was growing and getting more aggressive in her behavior, which meant she was nearly ready to be released back to the wild. The girls still got the chance to pet her.
We took a quick stroll through the aviary, which was full of strange and colorful birds (as one would expect from an aviary), like the golden pheasant.
There was even a little farm section that had animals like turkeys, chickens (they call them chooks down here), goats, and, of course, sheep, which we checked out briefly before heading back out.
As we walked back to the preserve's exit, we noticed that one of the baby kangaroos had creeped out from its mother's pouch. Seeing them in the pouch is kind of funny. They're either poking just their heads out or, more often, only a single, long, hind foot sticks out of the pouch at an uncomfortable-looking angle. So we were happy to see one decided to leave the safety of its pouch.
We were going to eat lunch at Natureworld's Wildspot Café (so we wouldn't have far to go for lunch) but right before we walked a get a table, a bus of pensioners rolled up and filled the place to capacity. So we drove down the road a piece and ate an unsatisfying lunch before we were able to check in to where we were staying for the next two nights.
Our cabin, the oddly named the Alpine Lodge, was right across the road from the ocean. As we got settled, we could hear the waves crashing onshore and many different animal sounds from the beach and the surrounding forest.
It was still early, so we went for a short walk up to Whaler's Lookout, a hill of granite which offered great views of the town of Bicheno and the surrounding coast, including the Governor Island Marine Reserve.
This surf-side hill was originally used to spot whales (of course), and one tree at the top of the hill still has iron spikes nailed into it that allowed whale spotters a place to climb to get an even better view.
After taking in the sights, we walked to the IGA in Bicheno to get food for lunches and dinner, including a package of red velvet Tim Tams (designed by Adriano Zumbo; he allegedly designed peanut butter Tim Tams, too, but we haven't seen them yet).
We made dinner and indulged in a little television before it was time to go to bed. Right before we went to sleep, though, we got a good look at the Blood Moon, the lunar eclipse that the internet was going on about that day.
- Kilometers driven: 95
- Tasmanian devils observed: 7
- Wombats petted: 1
- TimTams eaten: 15
- Lunar eclipses seen: 1