Saturday, February 29, 2020

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  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
Eastern Grey Kangaroo
Sugar Glider
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
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
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
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