Sunday, March 8, 2020

Tasmania Day 11 - Cradle Mountain

We actually set an alarm today since we planned to head out relatively early.  We had a 7 AM breakfast in the restaurant which was good with lots of variety.  Then we headed to the visitor center where we had to pick up our free (since we already had a National Park pass) shuttle tickets.

Cradle Mountain runs a shuttle service during the day to get in and out of the park to reduce traffic and because the road is very narrow in parts.  We found the shuttle service to be great.  We never waited more than 15 minutes for one and all the drivers would provide useful information during the drive.

The plan today was to go to Dove Lake which is at the end of the line and do some hiking since the area is supposed to be very picturesque.  However, when we got there it was overcast and not as pretty as we had hoped.  Plus, the downside of the shuttle is that everyone gets to the trails at the same time so there were a lot of other people with the same plan as us.

Hmm... decisions, decisions...
Dove Lake hiking options

Cradle Mountain view

We decided to head to the boat shed first to take some pictures.

The boathouse

The walk around Dove Lake just wasn't going to be very pretty in this weather.  So, we changed our plans and decided to go to Ronny Creek to look for wombats.  We went back to the shuttle stop and caught the next one back to Ronny Creek.

At Ronny Creek we found some cooperative native hens:
Tasmanian National Hen (Endemic)

We also had another chance to hike the 65km Overland Track:
Another leg of the 65 KM hike - we did another 5K

Once again, we almost made it.  I think we were only 63km short today...

Anyway, you have to love Australian parks.  Overall we found them to have much better infrastructure than US parks.  The trails were better, the signs were better, and the facilities (especially the bathrooms) were better.  Most parks even had flush toilets which is not something you see in the US very often.

This sign gave us some hope that wombats might be near.  However,  I had no plans to feed them tiny red hearts:
We just want to see some...

That sign was right because not much later we saw our first daytime wombat munching away on some grass:

Then we saw another:
Big Wombat

And another...
Grazing time

We sure didn't have to worry about NOT seeing any wombats.

One of the interesting things about wombats is that they are the only animal that has cube shaped poop.  Yup, that's right.  So, when one of the wombats sauntered by and pooped near the boardwalk, I had to get a picture to confirm that fact.  Notice the nice compoopsition of the photo...

Wombats leave square poop, really.

That wombat was so close that we could hear it chewing loud and clear which was pretty cool.  In fact, the only time it paused its eating was to poop.  Otherwise, it was just a large furry eating machine.  I wonder if I could borrow one to take care of all the weeds in our yard...

After getting our fill of wombats (not that we could EVER really get our fill), we headed back to Pepper's for lunch.  Outside the main lodge is a lake that looks like great platypus habitat but apparently one hasn't been seen there in a long time so we didn't spend much time looking.

Peppers pond at the lodge

After a great lunch in the restaurant that included seafood chowder, caesar salad, and a chocolate pudding dessert with ice cream that was extra satisfying, we decided to burn off a few calories and walk some of the trails at the lodge.

Inala Karen had given me a tip that the Enchanted Track at the lodge was a good place for pink robin, so that was our first stop.  It's a very pretty trail along a small river with lots of cool trees.

The Enchanted Track

We even found a couple wombat burrows:
Wombat burrows

Unfortunately, there were no signs of any pink robins.  But, at the end of the trail they had a very interesting crosswalk.  The way I interpret these signs is that you have to moonwalk across the street there which of course I did.

Only moon walking allowed.

Our next stop was supposed to be the gift shop they have at Pepper's but we were unavoidably detained by a mother and juvenile wombat munching on grass outside the store.

Mother and juvenile

On the cuteness meter, a young wombat is a perfect 10 in my book.

Yes you!

At one point, mom just fell asleep while grazing.  I guess eating and pooping all day can really take its toll.

Too tired to even eat

When mom did wake up she actually paused and sort of looked up for once:

But, it turns out it was only to do some major scratching:
And scratch.

And then she gave me a look I will not soon forget:
Whoa...maybe not so cute after all

A 3rd wombat showed up as we left and then we saw a 4th one walking to our room.  They were pretty much everywhere.

We walked a few other trails in the afternoon like the King Billy Track and another one to a waterfall but I really didn't come away with any decent pictures.  We saw a couple more wombats and some birds as well of course.

So, what do you do after a successful day watching wombats?  Well, if you are us you head to the bar for a cocktail which is exactly what we did.  They even had some Aussie rules football on the "tele" so I watched a bit of that and tried to figure it out as we drank.

We had an early'ish dinner because we had a reservation for a night tour at Devil's @ Cradle which is a conservation facility just down the road from Pepper's.  The odds of us seeing a wild devil were slim to none so we decided to go on this night feeding tour to watch the devils eat and better yet hear them.

The driveway up to Devil's @ Cradle had a nice quoll sign that I ended up photographing later on in the day light:

Quoll Crossing

The tour itself was much better than we expected and highly educational.  I didn't take any pictures but did take a video of the juveniles getting fed:

And another of some adults getting fed.  The adults were a bit more vocal:

After the tour was over, we decided to take a drive into the park again to see if we could find anything but we struck out.  We even got out at Ronny Creek and walked around for a while until the cold drove us back into the car.  We did encounter a couple cars that possibly were racing in the park which was very sad.  They zoomed past us twice and luckily didn't leave any roadkill in their wake.

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