Friday, March 6, 2020

Tasmania Day 13 - Northern Tasmania

Another dawn came and went today as we slept in again and enjoyed a leisurely 8:30AM breakie.  We had a great 3 nights at Cradle Mountain where we saw everything that we had hoped to see and more.  So, we were excited to move on to our next destination today.

We checked out of Pepper's around 10AM and headed north.  I had an option written down to stop at a cave today to see glow worms but since we saw some at Mt Field, we decided to skip that.

Instead, we made a couple detours heading north that Inala Karen had mentioned which included a drive through Railton to see their topiary.  We found it OK thanks to Sheila even though she was her usual bossy self on the way.

Welcome to Railton

Unfortunately, some of the more well known topiary like the train was not in great shape but we did find a couple that we thought were pretty cool.

Horse and Jockey

That's bull!

We stopped for lunch in Sheffield at a bakery.  When we arrived, the place was empty even though there was seating for close to 100 people.  I ended up getting another scallop pie (Yum!) and Karen got a toastie (Double yum!).  As we sat down to eat, people started filing in both doors.  In the space of 10 minutes the place became fully packed.  I can't say we have ever seen something like that before and it was hard to figure out.  Maybe some event nearby just ended?  In any case, my first pie was so good I decided to brave the line and get a beef pie as well which ended up being really good too.

After the nice lunch fill up we headed to the Tasmanian Arboretum which is a known hot spot for Platypus.  But, we were arriving in the heat of the afternoon so who knows.  The lady at the ticket counter said they were usually out all day long so that was good to hear.  Since it was colder in Tasmania than on the the mainland, the platypus need to eat more and so they are out during the day feeding she said.  Hopefully, she would be right.

The arboretum has huge grounds that were filled with loads of bird life including some black swans.

Black Swan posing

There are a couple lakes where the platypus live and they even have a hide by one of the lakes.

Tasmanian Arboretum Lake

Platypus hide

I think we are getting close.

This looks better placed

Well, it didn't take long to find a platypus hanging out in the middle of the lake.  It would come up for air, float a bit, then dive down.  But, it was a bit far out for pictures.  So, we continued around the side of the lake until we found another one that was much closer.  What a cool looking animal:

Platypus alert!

Just floating around

Success!  Another mission accomplished.  Tasmania was being really good to us.  We ended up seeing three different individuals and had close looks at two of them.

Our accommodations for the evening were at Roosters Rest in Port Sorell where they have a couple of cottages.  Ours was really nice.

Rooster Rest Cottage


Living area

The plan for the rest of the day after dropping our stuff off in our cottage was to go to Narawntapu NP and do some hiking and wildlife watching.  But, since there is no place to get food anywhere near the park we needed to pick something up to go.  So, we decided to go to a place relatively near by called Latrobe Takeaway.  It ended up being located in a residential area and at first I thought Sheila was leading us on a wild takeout chase.

We went inside and took a look at the menu that was posted on the wall and honestly had no idea what most of the stuff was.  Here's the menu, try and figure out what all these things are:

We have no idea what we just ordered

There was one lady working there and when we asked what was good she just said "everything" in a thick Aussie accent.  So, then we asked what she would recommend she ended up asking other people waiting who were regulars and then mentioned a few things that we really didn't understand.

Feeling a bit pressured to order since people were waiting,  Karen asked about the chicken fillet that was on the menu.  The lady just looked at her and said "the what?".  "Chicken fill-lay" Karen responded.  The lady shrugged and obviously didn't understand.  So, then Karen pointed at the menu and said "the 3rd chicken item from the top.  You know, a fill-lay".  The lady turned and said "Oh, the chicken fill-it".  Then she proceeded to walk to the freezer and pull out a frozen breaded chicken pattie and held it up for us to see.  "Chicken fill-it" she exclaimed smiling.

The lady ended up doing a bit of a custom order for Karen since she put together a chicken fill-it wrap.  But, I wanted to try something else so I just order 3 things from the menu hoping they would be decent.  Everything appeared to be deep fried so there was little choice when it came to healthy items.  After placing our order I said to Karen that "I have no idea what I just ordered".  When our order was ready I still had no idea what it was since it was all bagged up when it was handed to us.  I guess I would find out soon enough though.

Narawntapu NP is supposed to be known as the "Serengeti of Tasmania" because there are so many animals there.  But, the wombats recently got wiped out by mange I believe so there was no chance of seeing any of them.  However, the whole area was supposed to be good for tasmanian devil.  The road signs leading to the park seemed to reinforce that idea.

No one slowed down :(

We arrived at the park just after 5 PM so the visitor center was closed.  We decided to sit in the car and have our deep fried dinner which turned out to be OK, but nothing special.  But, we are not huge deep fried food people so maybe all that fat and calories was wasted on us. When we were done, it was time to try to burn off a tiny portion of dinner.

As was the case at all Aussie parks we visited, there was great signage so we headed out on one of the trails.  There was a lot of wildlife around but it wasn't quite like the Serengeti.

A very grey, red-necked wallaby


Green Rosella

However, we did get some great looks at the eastern grey kangaroo here which was really nice.

Eastern Greys Foraging

Check out the tail

We decided to hike out to a birding blind to see if that provided any good looks at wildlife. However, when we got there the water had all dried up and there was no wildlife around anywhere.

When we hit the main trail again we had a choice of heading back to the left towards the visitor center or continuing on to the right.

Narawntapu Hikes

Both of us were tired so I asked Karen if she wanted to hike all the way to Archers Knob.  "I don't know" she said "that's a long way".  "What about if we just go to the tip of Archers Knob".  "OK, but just the tip of the knob" Karen said.  So, that is what we did.

There were a lot of cool trees along the hike:
Interesting trees

And even a few curious wallabies and roos:
Heads popping up everywhere

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

We doubled back to the visitor center where I took one last picture:
Aren't you too old for that?

On the way out of the park we headed towards a spot that used to have a colony of bettongs.  We pulled off up a dirt road and staked out the area while dusk turned to night.  We didn't see any movement so we got out and walked the road looking.  Nothing.  So, then we got back in the car and drove deeper into the forest and back...but still nothing.  It looks like the bettong colony was no more which is too bad since this was the only spot I knew of to try to find them.

On the way home we decided to do a prolonged night drive by backtracking to Narawntapu.  The suggested night speed limit is 45 km an hour which is still fast for trying to find night critters.  I found that 35 to km an hour was better so as not to run into anything on the road.  Unfortunately, all the locals still drove the posted 80 km per hour so the road to and from the park ended up not being very good for night driving since I was always getting run down and had to constantly pull over.  We did manage to see 8 brushies on the drive but nothing new.

This stretch of road had lots of roadkill so it was a shame to see people driving so fast at night.  I guess if I lived there and had to drive this road daily driving slow might get old but I would be devastated if I hit and killed anything especially something rare.  Tasmania definitely has a huge roadkill problem from what we saw and the only solution is for people to drive slowly at night but that just doesn't seem to happen.

Anyway, the highlight of the drive is when we stopped in Narawntapu and just happened to park the car facing the direction of the rising moon.  We could see brightness on the horizon and sat there watching the almost full moon slowly come up.   It looked huge and I can't say we have actually ever really watched the moon rise before like that.  It was a very cool way to end the day.

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