Natureworld and Wineglass Bay

Coles Bay Travel Blog

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We started at Natureworld, a small, intimate but slightly sad nature park. We arrived in time for animal feeding, and were treated to proper views of tasmanian devils, wombats, bennett's wallabys, quolls, and even allowed to pet the eastern grey kangaroos seeing as they were roaming tame and unhindered around the park.

Following the animal feeding, the keeper pointed out that the 'Pelican train' was leaving soon on a tour of the park. In this way all the guests at the park are moved around as one group of about 40 from one activity to another so you really get a personal feel to the day. The train was driven by the park owner 'Bruce' who looked like Denis Norton and turned out to be from Guildford. He in fact owns the park, adding to the personal touch.

He drove us round to the reptile enclosures, the Tasmanian Devil baby world, the aviary and explained some of the problems that have befallen the park recently.

Aside from the recent drought that has left the park looking very dry and the animals' water features empty, there was also a freak tide that caused the sea to burst the sandbank and flood the park. All of the irrigation channels, the little river, and the animals' water ponds were flooded with the salt water, and with the drought on they are not permitted to re-irrigate using freshwater. They are going to have to cut down many of the eucalypt trees that have not survived.

Additionally, there is a memorial in the park to the previous owner's wife and mother. In Port Arthur, where we visit tomorrow, there was a terrible massacre in 1996 when a crazed gunman shot down 35 people, the owner and his wife were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Bruce with deadly black tiger snake
She was shot and killed and he was shot through the neck. The mother was informed of the news and as she ran across the road to ask a neighbour for help she died of a sudden heart attack. The owner survived but sold the park in the aftermath of losing his wife and his mother.

Finally, there is a state-wide issue with the native Tasmanian Devils. These are dying rapidly from a mouth cancer that is passed by sharing saliva, discovered in 2000. So if two devils fight or share a piece of meat, they can pass the disease along. Added to this Devils only live to 5 yrs, only breed between 2-5 yrs and only have a maximum of 4 offspring. This is a subject naturally close to Tasmanians heart, as the devil is an iconic part of their heritage and culture. Not to mention associated problems are with foxes that (as usual) were introduced by the damn English to provide sport, and up till now populations have been kept in check by the devils.

Wineglass Bay
Now populations of devils have dropped by a third in 10 years, the foxes are on the rise and will have a huge impact on the Tasmanian ecosystem and all the native birds and animals that depend on it. In short, everything that makes Tasmania Tasmania, could soon be over. They say the devil could be extintct within 25 years. Much is being done to protect the Devil; there are parks dedicated to the research and potential immunisation of the devils, and since west coast devils have found to be more resilient to the disease they hope to breed east coast devils with west. Natureworld is creating a closed island for the devils off the coast where they can keep a safe, breeding population and hope to help stem the extinction. Other parks are doing the same, they need 5000 breeding pairs for the species to survive...

Bruce also fed the giant pelican, a beautiful ethereal group of white, fallow deer, and some geese.

After the train we all sat around for the 'baby-feeding', At first domestic animals were given to us all to hold; rats, rabbits, guinea pigs etc. But then the handler brought out a baby quoll, and a baby Tassie Devil. We were allowed to hold them unfortunately, but we were allowed to stroke them.

The next thing on the agenda was the reptile feeding. Like I said yesterday, the black snakes are the most dangerous, but Australian snakes really rarely attack unless they are provoked or stepped on by accident. The really dangerous snakes are those that attack, but since Aussie snakes are too small to eat us, they aren't interested and usually just try to move away. To clarify by the way, black snakes are the same as tiger snakes, but since Tasmania is cooler than the rest of Australia they have evolved to be completely black so they warm up quicker (ecotherm). There was also a rogue tiger snake with yellow body and black stripes; this is an evolutionary throw-back and adaptation to camouflage this snake in sandy areas.

He was feeding them dead chooks (chicks) from a bucket of water. Squeezing them out and throwing them one to each snake. He is there to prevent the snakes from eating one another if they are not all equally fed. From the original 1000, 800 ate each other when the owners didn't bother to care for them, and when the park saved them there were only 200 left. In the enclosure, if two snakes are eating the same chick they will both continue to eat until one has consumed the other...

It was fun watching the snakes swallow their little snacks...;)

So back to the van and onto Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park. Sadly this pristine and beautifully arched and sheltered sandy bay is pretty inaccessible with an hour and a half walk to it, so we settled for a half hour walk to the look-out, where we met another wild wallaby, and then scampered back down for lunch at a random little sandy beach where I tucked into the delicious cheese and pickled onions I'd bought the day before yesterday.

It was then a quick drive back to Hobart to drop everybody off and say goodbye as Rose was rushing to catch another bus and we'd stayed late at the Natureworld. It was sad to say goodbye but a relief to be settling down in one place for the next 4 days while we use Hobart as a base. Greg and Tanya have been great tour guides and we would never have got to see so much without their invaluable help.

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Bruce with deadly black tiger snake
Bruce with deadly black tiger snake
Wineglass Bay
Wineglass Bay
Coles Bay
photo by: Biedjee