Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fields Full of Teddy Bears

I usually prefer to write about our adventures soon after they occur, but the last few months have been so fast and furious that I haven't made time to write. The month of February was full of adventures. Our locations varied from South Australia through Victoria to Tasmania. When I look back on February and March, I mostly remember the wildlife encounters and the fantastic scenery. A specific highlight was traveling "The Great Ocean Road" in Victoria. It proved to be as spectacular as all of the hype suggested. On top of the incredible coastal rock formations, we spotted our first (and only) wild Koala on a short forest hike near the coast.

We drove to the Port of Melbourne where we boarded the "Spirit of Tasmania" with our van. We were amongst hundreds of other motorhomes and caravans traveling to Tasmania. The 10-hour boatride proved to be quite rough. Both Scott and I narrowly escaped without tossing our PB & J. The 2 weeks we spent in Tasmania were quite memorable. Tasmania is mostly uninhabited, with extensive national parks (NPs) protecting the wilderness. Tasmania funds their NPs by charging the tourists $60 for a 2 month pass. This is the most expensive NP pass in all of Australia.

We disembarked the "Spirit of Tasmania" around 7pm and stopped 30 minutes down the road to witness some Fairy Penguins coming out of the ocean to feed their chicks, who were patiently waiting for their nightly feeding on the shoreline. I think I said "sooooo cute" at least 20 times. The Fairy Penguin is the smallest of all penguins and the adults only get to be around a foot tall. This is hard to imagine (until you've seen them), after having watched all the movies depicting the massive Emperor Penguins endemic to Antarctica, which reach 3 feet tall.

We saw a Tasmanian Devil cross the road while we were driving. We learned that these animals are plagued by an extremely unusual and fatal cancer. It is only one of three recorded cancers that can spread like a contagious disease. The cancer is passed from devil to devil through biting. The live tumour cells aren’t rejected by their immune system because of a lack of genetic diversity among Tasmanian devils. After learning this, these scary and ugly looking creatures suddenly seemed cute and helpless.

As we were traveling across the Bass Strait to Tassie, we read various tourist brochures.
One of them described Narawantpu NP as a place where you can see fields full of wombats. The wombats in the brochure looked like teddy bears! I quickly decided my goal in Tassie was to see these fields full of "teddy bears". On our last night on the island, we stopped at Narawantpu NP and watched a full moon rise over a field full of teddy bears (and kangaroos!) -- mission accomplished.

Tassie reminded me how much I love climbing mountains. We spent almost everyday hiking or biking up a mountain (much higher than anything on the mainland). Cradle Mountain, the most famous on Tasmania, lived up to it's fame. The climb to the top required some difficult
scrambling on jagged boulders, but we were rewarded with expansive views of the valley and surrounding mountains. To our delight, Tasmania also has some fantastic free camping, with views over the ocean or across a valley.

Another memorable part of Tassie was visiting the capital city of Hobart. Hobart is on the southern coast of Tassie, and it is flanked by 4200 ft Mt. Wellington. Without a doubt, we feel that Hobart would be on our short list of places we could live. A laid back city with an ocean, mountain, and rivers within miles of each other.

We were worried that we would regret only allowing 2 weeks to explore Tasmania. We were right.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Beautiful. Boy do I miss you. I hope you guys are enjoying your time exploring. I can't believe how much you have seen in your short life! All I keep thinking of is your hikes up those mountains with snakes... I HATE SNAKES... Hope you are having fun. Stay safe.

Love you!