Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Tarkine

Edge of the World, Arthur River

From the North-western Corner I first explored some of the forest around the Arthur River then travelled south down the 'Western Explorer' which borders the Arthur Pieman conservation area.

I came across my first endemic frog, the Tasmanian froglet, Crinia tasmaniensis. Rather drab like all Crinia species, it is set apart by its startling red underparts.

Not long afterwards I found another interesting little frog, the Southern smooth froglet, Geocrinia laevis. Quite a pretty little thing.

Geocrinia laevis, Southern Smooth Froglet

The Western explorer is a pleasant journey for the countryside it travels through - buttongrass hills merging into mixed forest and rainforest around the creeks and river valleys. Near the Savage River I did another good walk which took me up a mountain to survey the landscape.

I made another great little find on this walk. Throughout this country there are numerous little holes in the ground - about a couple of centimetres diameter. Sometimes turreted, sometimes not. I found one of the culprits under a log.

A beautiful little crayfish, entirely terrestrial, clad in a stylish purple and orange!

At Corinna I took the barge across the Pieman river (which, incidentally is a ridiculous name for a river) and headed south to Zeehan. I had a bit of an adventure when I took a 4WD track out to Montezuma falls. Twelve kilometres into the tedious 14km track I came unstuck - while climbing a hill after a creek crossing I lost traction and slid off the lower side of the track. I was neatly stuck. I tried self-recovering for some time but had to give up when the little hand winch that I had was making ominous noises. I had phone reception so got through to the police radio room who sent a guy out to me. With his winch and help, we continued the winching job that I'd started and managed to heave the car up and back on to the road. No damage done but a painful exercise nonetheless. At least the falls and the swing bridge were nice!

Montezuma falls

So, I bet you all wish you were here, am I right?

The North

Cradle Mountain behind Dove Lake

After Narawntapu I visited the Cradle valley for a day - beautiful indeed though rather touristy. I did a fantastic walk - from Dove Lake around in a big loop to the Cradle summit via Hanson's Peak and returning via a section of the overland track and Marion's Lookout. Superb scenery! I saw my first tassie snakes too - a couple of small White lipped snakes (Drysdalia coronoides).

I made camp at the beautiful little Mole Creek where I spotted platypus at dusk. Lots of brushtail possums around including some extremely black ones which I've never seen before.

Hellyer Gorge

I visited a few nice spots over the next few days as I headed westwards towards the northern edge of the Tarkine - Hellyer Gorge, Dip falls. I've been doing as much walking as I can and enjoying the mixed forest and rainforest of this region. The Leatherwoods are in bloom and their petals adorn the forest floor.

Leatherwood petals

Bizzarre yellow flatworm


About a month later than planned, I'm finally in Tassie! After a pleasant though fairly uneventful trip down the coast, I came across on the Spirit of Tasmania I and have spent the last week and a half exploring the island's north-west. It's been fabulous. I love being back on the road and I've seen some interesting animals and beautiful scenes.

I began by heading just east of Devonport to Narawntapu national park - coastally located with some pleasant walking through sandy banksia forest and melaleuca swamp surrounding a freshwater lagoon. The best part of this park is the sheer mass of mammals! Pademelons are by far the most common, ridiculously abundant, foraging alongside wombats. I saw a few Bennet's Wallabies and Eastern Grey Kangaroos too. Walking along one of the tracks I was glad to spot several hair-filled scats so I was keenly on the lookout for predators.

That night - only my second in Tassie, I saw not one but two Tassie devils! The first was on a road that I was slowly driving at dark with the hope of seeing something interesting. It looked up at me, showing off its white bib, before dashing into the scrub. I was amazed and incredulous. Was it that easy to see wild devils here? As I drove into camp I saw another devil actually loping around next to a caravan! I sat quietly near my tent and the devil paid me a visit. A pademelon that was grazing in the clearing saw it and stamped its feet. The devil turned to the pademelon and chased it briefly but without much enthusiasm. It sniffed around my camp then galloped off down the road. Amazing creatures! I've since seen one more devil in my headlights - pretty impressive!

I also did a bit of frogging in this park - came across Litoria ewingii, the Brown Treefrog, Limnodynastes dumerilii (Pobblebonk) and Limnodynastes tasmaniensis (Spotted grass frog).

Litoria ewingii, Brown Treefrog

Friday, February 5, 2010

In the wild again!

I'm back on the road as of a week ago. I've made it as far as Wilson's Prom where it is currently cold and rainy (never a good combination). I'm hopping on the ferry over to Tasmania on Sunday. I haven't been taking many photos so far so in the mean time you can enjoy some animal shots from the channel country, Simpson Desert and Western NSW from some recent trips, here.