19.03.2008 - 02.04.2008 18 °C
My apologies for the long dry spell, a lot of my time lately has been taken up with being a graduate student. Scary stuff, that, the fact that I now have approximately twenty months to do my research, analyse data, and write a massive thesis kinda snuck up on me. Relatively speaking, anyway, akin to the way a rather large, uncoordinated elephant could sneak up on me if I covered my eyes, plugged my ears, and hummed loudly.
My mother spent two weeks visiting me over Easter and my birthday, and we had a fantabulous time. We decided to rent a car, cross our fingers, and hope for the best – since Australians drive on the left side of the road. For someone who is naturally a nervous rider (My mother), it was a bit hair-raising at times, but I think I did a marvellous job adjusting. Due to my fascination with Australian wildlife, we visited quite a few zoos and wildlife parks (like Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary), which were fantastic. I also made sure to show her all the sights Melbourne had to offer.
Mooned by a gorilla at the Melbourne Zoo.
A wedgetail eagle in flight at Healesville Sanctuary.
An echidna wanders by while we hike at Briars State Park on the Mornington Peninsula.
We spent three days in Tasmania, which has become one of my favourite parts of Oz thus far. We stayed at a lovely B&B called Hillview House overlooking Launceston, in northern Tassie in the Tamar River Valley. The island state is made up of vineyards and sheep grazing land in the north and east, with scattered state and national parks of protected forestland and gorgeous coastline. The southern and western portions of Tassie remain, for the greater part, undeveloped and densely forested, though logging is slowly eating away at these pristine environments. The best way to get around is by car, though we mostly stuck to the main thoroughfares, since many smaller roads are unpaved. Our main goal being to see as much of the countryside as possible in our limited time, we’d pick a general direction in the morning, hit the road, and stop by various places that looked promising (such as the Chudleigh Honey Farm and the House of Anvers Chocolate Factory).
Hillview House, Launceston, Tasmania
Cataract Gorge, near Launceston, Tasmania
The Tamar River Valley
My favourite by far (with some bias) was the Trowunna Wildlife Park in Mole Creek, a wildlife rehabilitation centre with a Tasmanian devil captive breeding program. Kangaroos, wallabies, and wombats range freely in and out of the park’s borders. A wombat is a small, stocky herbivorous marsupial, not “an implement used in the game of Wom”, as a cheeky aussie recently said. The keeper gave a great educational tour of the park and allowed us to pet tame resident koalas, wallabies, and devils (whose bristly tail I patted with much decorum whilst the toothsome end was restrained). Tassie devils, despite their small stature, are the largest living marsupial predator and have teeth quite capable of crushing human bone. Our tour was not complete until we had met an adorable baby wombat the keeper had raised from the pouch. It was orphaned, like many of the park’s residents, when its mother was struck by a car.
Very old koala
Keeper with a very pissed-off Tassie Devil.
Aforementioned bone-crushing teeth
Marsupials have not adapted well to the development of roads through their habitat. On many roads you will find the evidence of this every hundred meters or so. To this day many native fauna are seen as pests, so many drivers don’t stop when they hit an animal to make sure it doesn’t have a living joey in the pouch. Young wombats have been found to survive up to a week in the pouch of their dead mother before dying from starvation. With this on my mind, along with the image of that adorable rescued wombat joey, my conscience was not assuaged until I stopped at all fresh-looking carcasses to check for joeys. With the sheer volume of roadkill, this was both a time-consuming and gruesome task, thankfully I was well-prepared by my nights spent hauling around condor food. Mom wasn’t quite as excited to participate. I did not, however, find any orphaned marsupials.
Mom with the adorable baby wombat.
It was wonderful to spend the holiday with my mother and share my new life with her. It's hard to believe that I've been here for four months now, it's flown by.
Aussie slang of the week: footy (Australian Rules Football), good on ya (well done/congrats), servo (gas station), petrol (gasoline)
Tasmanian road sign