Saturday, March 7, 2020

Tasmania Day 12 - Cradle Mountain

I am starting to sound like a broken record but I will say it again... Today we slept in.  We actually were resembling the word "lazy" on this trip and we didn't mind it at all.

We had a leisurely breakfast at the restaurant around 8:30AM.  Afterwards, we walked the Enchanted Walk hoping to find a pink robin.  But, no luck there.  However, we did see our first snake of the trip.

White-lipped Snake sunning itself

Even though we have seen hundreds of snakes and love them, I am always startled when I first see one especially when it's right where I am about to walk.  At first, I couldn't tell what species it was but when it left the boardwalk and I was able to get a view of the head which made it easy to identify as a white-lipped snake.

Moving along out of the way

Since there are only 3 snake species in Tasmania I had a 33% chance of getting it right.  Here is a look at the 3 species.  Note that the white-lipped snake is the least venomous of the 3.

2 of the top 15 most venomous snakes in the world

The tiger snake is one of the most venomous snakes in the world and usually makes the top 5 on most lists you find online. The copperhead is usually just outside the top 10 on those same "most venomous" lists.  So, the snakes in Tasmania are NOT to be messed with.

After that excitement, we decided that it was a good time to do laundry and Karen volunteered for that fun chore to begin compensating me for all the trip planning I did which I appreciated.  So, I decided to walk around the grounds a bit by myself where I ended up doing the Enchanted Walk again looking for pink robin because, you never know...

This ended up being a smart decision because not long after starting the walk some movement caught me eye up in a tree.  Once that movement hit the sunlight I could see the brilliant pink.  It was a pink robin!  The bird that started it all when it came to this trip.

Unfortunately, it played hard to get and did not stick around long so my pictures are just so-so but I am happy that another mission was successful.  Thanks for another great tip Inala Karen.

Pink Robin

Striking color

At lunch, Karen ordered the soup of the day which was potato and cauliflower.  She expected actual pieces of potato and cauliflower but the soup was a puree and not what she expected.  Typically, in the US soup comes with chunks of whatever in it which is what we are used to.  But, our Aussie friends confirmed that is not typical there and that would likely be more of a stew.  This was the 2nd time on the trip that Karen ordered soup and the 2nd time she got a puree.  So after that, whenever we saw soup of the day on a menu, she assumed it was really "broth of the day".

In the afternoon once all the laundry was done, we went back into the park.  Our shuttle driver today was pretty darn entertaining and had a very well timed monologue that went something like this:

"In Tasmania we have 3 species of snake.  There is the tiger snake which is the 5th most venomous snake in the world.  Then there is the copperhead which is the 12th most venomous snake in the world and we also have the venomous white-lipped snake.  Speaking of snakes, anyone want to get off at the next stop which is Snake Hill?"

The whole bus was silent at that point and nobody got off at the Snake Hill stop.  I thought it was pretty funny though and I bet the driver got a bit of a chuckle out of it too.

Instead, we got off at Ronny Creek and did some walking on the boardwalks.

Ronny Creek boardwalk

It wasn't long until we saw a wombat doing what wombats do; eating.

Ronny Creek Wombat

But, amazingly, this one actually stopped eating and went on a bit of a walk.  It must have seen some greener pastures somewhere else.

Wombat walking

Hilariously, one of the nearby signs had been "altered" to remove the "L" in  Wombat Pool which resulted in this sign that made us laugh:

What the sign really said...

However, I didn't think it was very accurate so I made an adjustment to better reflect where to go if you wanted to find wombat poo:
What the sign should have said

We ended up walking up towards Waldheim's Cabin to use the restroom up there which gave us a nice view of more of the boardwalks and the buttongrass.

More boardwalks

Fields of buttongrass

I think because Karen had to pee more than I, she was in the lead walking up the boardwalk which hardly ever happens.  Suddenly, I saw movement by her foot.  I said "freeze"...and she froze.  Right by her shoe was another white-lipped snake.  It didn't want anything to do with us and moved off quickly but not before I captured the moment (yes, that is old dried wombat poo on the boardwalk):
Venomous snake near Karen's foot

Here is a shot of Waldheim's Cabin:
Waldheim Cabin

And, here are shots of the wombats we saw around the cabin area.  So, the pee break really turned out to be a wise decision:


This one really had an itch that just couldn't be scratched.  First, it went the lazy route and just rubbed its hindquarters slowly on the tree:

That must not have worked because then it really got moving and shaking:

Then it broke down and used its sharp nails to take care of things.  First on one side:

Then on the other:

Finally, it must have hit the right spot because it stopped all the gyrations and sauntered away.

Back down at Ronny Creek, more wombats were out and close to the boardwalk like this one:
Like a teddy bear

We ended up seeing 11 wombats in 2 1/2 hours which is pretty darn good.

Since it was getting close to cocktail hour all civilized people such as ourselves headed back out of the park.  As we walked from the shuttle stop back to Pepper's we came across this cute little pademelon:

Pademelon planning something?

Happy hour was nice and relaxing which made this observation at dinner even the more enjoyable.  From where I was sitting at dinner I could see a couple eating.  The back of the man was to me.  At one point, I saw him drop his napkin on the floor.  He quickly picked it back up.  A few seconds later, the napkin fell again but farther away.  So, he reached down and grabbed it again.  The woman didn't seem to even notice this.

Then it happened a 3rd time but the napkin was tossed so far away the man had to use his foot to retrieve it which he did.  A couple minutes later, the napkin went flying again and I could see the man's shoulders visibly slouch as he let out an exasperating sigh.  That is when he turned just enough for me to see the baby on his lap which had a big smile on its face.

I don't know what I found more amusing, the whole baby napkin tossing or the fact that the woman paid absolutely no attention and made no effort to help.  It was as if it was just business as usual for them.  Anyway, I explained the whole thing to Karen since she had her back to it and we both got a good laugh.

After dinner, we did a 2 hour night walk on trails around the lodge.  We first did the Killy Billy Track where we saw 5 brushies and 1 ringtail possum.  Then we walked through the grounds of the lodge where we saw 3 more brushies and 1 more ringtail.

Here is one of the ringtails which we were surprised to find high up on a bare tree.  When we first saw the eye shine we thought this might be an owl, but it wasn't to be.  We actually didn't see any owls on the whole trip.

Ring-tailed Possum

Finally, we did the Enchanted Walk where we encountered another brushie.  But, this one had a bit of attitude.  It was walking towards us on the boardwalk and really didn't look like it wanted to move out of the way.  So, we walked slowly toward it and when we got about 5 feet away it finally detoured slightly off the boardwalk. It walked around us and the whole time was given us the "old stink eye" as if we had greatly inconvenienced it by making it go around us.  This was just one more reason why I found the brushies so endearing.  They seemed to have real personality.

The last sighting of note that night happened at the ranger station at the entrance to the park.  I saw eye shine on the pavement that was different.  But, before we could get close enough to really see the animal it ran away.  It was too big for an eastern quoll so part of me thinks it could have been a spot-tailed quoll but that is likely wishful thinking.  When you aren't sure about an ID you should always go with the most common and likely least interesting species.  So, we are calling this a feral cat since we will never know for sure.

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