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Found 8 results

  1. Bill and I have just returned from a 3D/2N trip to Melaleuca and Bathurst Harbour in remote southwest Tasmania.Our first and final sightings during this 3 day break were of the highly endangered Orange-bellied Parrot (OBP). This was Bill’s second visit to Bathurst Harbour and Melaleuca – the first was in 1994 when he sailed with a group from Strahan to Hobart to attend the inaugural Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. I have always been interested in the history and wildlife of the area but have been deterred by the isolation, legendary bad weather, poor access and rugged terrain that have combined to ensure that the Melaleuca area was visited mostly by hardy sailors and bushwalkers. I have heard much about the plight of the OBP and the strategies to save this precious remaining population, so an opportunity to see this rare feathered gem hooked me right away. Some years ago Par Avion built the Southwest Wilderness Camp at the mouth of Melaleuca Inlet and began to fly in travellers seeking to explore this area. This leisurely, comfortable option has opened up the rugged region to a greater cross-section of travellers. Highlights: Hot weather and calm seas 2 scenic flights over remote Southwest of Tasmania Amazing scenery and perfect reflections Beautiful Firetails Orange-bellied parrots Melaleuca has a rich history that features whalers, piners, miners, sailors, explorers and fishermen who have visited the area for over 200 years, whilst the Needwonnee people, the traditional owners lived in the area for thousands of years. Melaleuca is located in the southern area of Bathurst Harbour which is a large shallow bay connected to Port Davey and ultimately the Southern Ocean by the 12 kilometre Bathurst Channel. The waters flowing from Bathurst Harbour are typically stained a reddish-brown derived from tannin leached from button-grass and heathland plains. Melaleuca, Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey are part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which was initially proclaimed by UNESCO in 1982 and today comprises approximately 1,000,000 hectares or 20% of the area of Tasmania. The area has been subjected to severe glaciation and contains one of the world’s last remaining expanses of temperate rainforests. Remains found in limestone caves are evidence of human habitation dating back more than 20,000 years. Melaleuca’s most famous resident was Deny King, a young tin miner who followed his father into the southwest wilderness, married and raised his own family in the wilderness. The King family were the subject of a 1975 episode of the ABC series A Big Country. A book by Christobel Mattingley called King of the wilderness : a life of Deny King (2001) documents his extraordinary life in this rugged region. Today, Deny’s Nissen hut style home is visited by his daughter, Janet Fenton who I was fortunate to meet ths trip. Janet who arrived for a month long stay while we were there. She and her husband had travelled around the south coast of Tasmania in their own boat and were planning on working with Friends of Melaleuca to repair slips, the Nissen Hut and complete work at Clayton’s Corner. Deny’s sister Winsome married a local fisherman, Clyde Clayton and lived first at Bond Bay in Port Davey before moving into the calmer Forest Lagoon and re-assembling their house and garden from Bond Bay at Clayton’s Corner. Win and Clyde left Melaleuca in 1976 and their home is now owned and managed by the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service and is available to day visitors, fishermen and passing yachties. Melaleuca’s second famous resident is the Orange-bellied Parrot, (OBP) a highly endangered species of which approximately only 40 individual wild birds remain, including this year’s juveniles. The National Recovery Plan for the Orange-bellied Parrot provides support to this population with captive breeding, nesting boxes and food stations.
  2. These photos were taken today around Elderslie in southern Tasmania. Brown Falcon Laughing kookaburra
  3. Bill and I went to Bruny Island for a 3 night break in early June. The weather was perfect, clear crisp days and cool nights except for the last day which didn't really matter. We stayed at the Inala Reserve for a second but by no means final time. Inala is owned and managed by Dr Tonia Cochran who runs tours and accommodation on a former farm at South Bruny Island. Tonia must have one of the best office views ever - her desk and computer overlook the raptor feeding area and she has a birds eye view of the daily activities. The Jurassic Garden contains plants from when Australia was part of the super-continent of Gondwana. The John Bowen, a small ferry was running a shuttle service between Kettering and Bruny as the Mirambeena, which is a double deck car ferry, was in dry dock. The John Bowen could be described as a low-sided punt and we had views of the D'entrecasteaux Channel as we sat in the car for the crossing. This Brown Falcon was sitting on power lines at the Neck as we drove south. Once we arrived an unpacked I hot-footed it up to the Raptor Hide as I was keen to see the Wedge-tailed Eagles this trip. This white morph Grey Goshawk was perched in the late afternoon sun. We went for a walk around Inala, once the fire was lit. There was a wallaby in the home paddock that kept a close eye on us. As the sun dipped below the trees the wallabies came out in force, including this wild white one. A female Scarlet Robin litted along beside us.
  4. Bruny Island is an escape from Hobart - just a 40 minute drive to the ferry at Kettering and once arriving "ön-island" the pace of life slows, beautiful scenery abounds and peace and quiet become the norm. @gnu-gnu and @@farin and I spent 3 nights on Bruny in March 2015, we stayed at Inala, a natural paradise owned by the helpful and knowledgeable Dr Tonia Cochrane. I won't spend a lot of time writing about the island as very little has changed since I posted my longer 2013 report Highlights of this trip were Inala, a morning cruise to the Friar's Rock Seal Colony with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys and a visit to South Bruny NP. We disembarked at Roberts Point and went in search of the 40 spotted pardalote where I was unsuccessful once again. We drove further north to scenic Barnes Bay before stopping at the pub for lunch. A pair of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos at Great Bay were a good omen for a wonderful weekend. Inala is located on the southern part of the island - these photos were all taken around the property including the new Gondwana Garden to which overnight guests have free access. Inala farmhouse nestles into the rural surroundings. and the Gondwana garden is accessed through a gate close to the accommodation. The mist hangs low on this early morning, Inala attracts a wide variety of local birds. New Holland Honeyeater Grey-shrike thrush Tree Martins Flame Robin Grey Goshawk Bennett's wallabies proliferate and these 2 orphans are being hand-raised by Tonia. Tempting as it was to spend all weekend at this hide-away, we had booked a Wilderness Journey with Rob Pennicott so we set out in search of seals and seabirds. These Black-faced cormorants made themselves at home on a pontoon near the Adventure Bay jetty where the cruise begins, and the rugged coastline has many sea-caves and soaring dolorite cliffs. This pillar provides passengers and crew with some thrills, These Great and Black-faced cormorants were amongst the first sights at Friar's Rocks while these seals were the main reason for the trip. Black-faced cormorant colony, Friar's Rocks After the cruise we returned to Inala for a lazy afternoon. Next day, we visited some quiet beaches where Pied and Sooty Oyster-catchers were enjoying the sun. At South Bruny Island NP the Lighthouse and Keeper's cottages are ideally situated. This Scarlet Robin flited around an empty shack near an old cemetery. The lighthouse is one of the sites where the Mountain Dragon can be easily seen. Nearby Jetty Beach is a beautiful quiet corner with clean sand and lots of birds. Silver Gulls swam in the shallows while Kelp Gulls and Sooty Oyster Catchers patrolled the water's edge. More Silver Gulls (the juveniles have dark wing spots) and 3 juvenile Pacific Gulls A Green Rosella preened in the nearby Camp Ground, and this Blue Tongued Lizard was one of a pair we saw later on Lighthouse Road. All too soon, its time to head back to the ferry - this Scarlet Robin posed at the waters edge in Daniels Bay and the boats bobbed quietly at the Alonnah Jetty. The DÉntrecasteaux Channel was calm for the return.
  5. This year I took an extended Easter break with my partner to visit the far northwest of Tasmania. It had been about 20 years since we last travelled this way and we were keen to see wild scenery, the wind farm at Woolnorth, birds and animals and to drive the Western Explorer Road to Corinna. Easter began at Strahan where the juvenile Superb Fairy Wrens were intrigued by the lemon tree in the front garden and a flock of raucous Yellow-tailed black cockatoos flew overhead. We drove to Queenstown where copper has been mined for over 100 years. The town is known for its bare hills and isolation. The Lake Margaret Power Station was built in 1914 by the Mt Lyell Mining and Railway Company to supply power to the mine. This photo shows the rainforest encroaching on the site of the station and the former town of Lake Margaret. We drove to Lake Burbury, stopping to visit the site of the old Mt Jukes Proprietary Mine, almost overgrown by now and its whereabouts known to a dwindling number of locals. Here's a photo from an earlier trip of Lilly scrambling up one of the steep cuttings on the road to the lake, which is criss-crossed by a myriad of mountain streams stained brown by the button grass. This photo was taken looking down the Linda Valley from the site of the Iron Blow where the ore body was first discovered over a century ago. Back in town, the Mallard and Pacific Black Ducks contrast sharply with the Queen River. We drove north from Strahan to the coast and found these Australian pelicans on the mudflats of the Inglis River at Wynyard. Travelling westward, at Table Cape we took photos looking east and west. before a short seaside lunch stop at Boat Harbour. We were staying three nights at Stanley which is a small town in an area known as Circuar Head that is dominated by a well known Tasmanian landmark known as the Nut. The Nut is a volcanic plug that rises 150m from the sea. Our 3 days passed very quickly. We explored around Smithton where this grey fantail was perched on a fence wire and at Irishtown found a large flock of Masked Lapwings, and were very lucky to find a feeding flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos late one afternoon, Driving towards the wind farm at Woolnorth I saw these watchful Pacific Gulls on the shore at Montague. Woolnorth is one of Australia's oldest companies as it was established by Royal Charter in 1825. Dairying is the main activity at Woolnorth today together with a wind farm and an important weather station managed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Some claim that Woolnorth has the cleanest air in the world. Cape Grim is at the northwest tip of Tasmania with the next landfall being southern Argentina. The Doughboys lie close to the Cape Grim coastline. At the end of each day we were treated to a memorable sunset. We enjoyed our time in the far northwest - fine local produce at Xanders restaurant in Stanley and our accommodation in the converted loft of the old post office now known as Stamps of Stanley. We attended a very moving Anzac Day service at Stanley where the quiet town, the cenotaph and the shadow of the Nut underscored the true meaning of this day when Australians remember those lost in battle.
  6. My partner saw a house-sit advertised for May-June on Bruny Island, and after meeting the owners it was agreed that he would move in for 8 weeks. After a brief conversation we agreed this would be a good move and brighten up winter no end. Bill was to stay on the island and I would commute for weekends. This is a 'sort of' trip report because I lived at home during the week and went to work as usual, however the weekends had a distinct safari atmosphere. A winter house-sit in the mild climate of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel was very appealing when compared with memories of last winter in Hobart. West Hobart and Mt Wellington June 2012. Sure we had some gray days and some chilly nights but these were tempered with winter sun, a great choice of beaches and some wildlife watching opportunities. Bruny Island is southeast of Hobart and is accessed by a 15-20 minute vehicular ferry trip from Kettering Cars arriving at Roberts Point, Bruny Island on the Mirambeena. The island is around 100 km in length and is joined by a narrow isthmus known as ‘the Neck’ We had been to ‘Bruny’ (as the island is locally known) for a couple of short breaks in 2002 and 2009 which we really enjoyed and had always said we must spend more time there. Bill was looking forward to taking the dinghy and catching flathead (a local sweet-fleshed fish easily caught in the shallows) and enjoying a beachside life for 2 months. Lily, the German Short-haired Pointer is happy wherever he is, I temporarily reduced my hours at work so that I could have Friday afternoons and Monday mornings off allowing for 3 nights on Bruny and 4 in Hobart each week. The house is just 1.5 km on the south side of the ‘capital’ Alonnah and the block runs down to the water There are 9 houses at Sunset Bay and most weekends we are the only residents. Drifting off to sleep to the sound of the waves on the beach, rain on the roof or the wind in the tree-tops is a treat. Its blissfully quiet, the pace of life is deliciously slow and the only intrusion into the peace is when 3-4 cars drive by at once, signifying that a ferry recently discharged vehicles at Roberts Point 40 km away. My weekly routine is to finish work at noon on Fridays, gather up a few supplies and head to Kettering which takes around 45 minutes from home with a stop at a local farm stall for fresh fruit and veg. Once I’m ‘in the queue’ for the ferry, there is time for a decaf from the Mermaid Café before driving onto the Mirambeena. Locals, tourists and weekenders are milling around at the dock – some play ball and Frisbee games with dogs whilst others chat amiably until loading begins. Many vehicles have big toys attached, boats, kayaks and mountain bikes whilst others are loaded up with building materials and garden supplies. The atmosphere at the dock is one of anticipation – a change of pace on Bruny for most of the Friday afternoon commuters. The drive to Alonnah takes about 40 minutes and I’m soon on the deck with a cuppa gazing out over the waters of the d’Entrecasteaux Channel and keeping an eye out for birds in the garden. Our days are spent in the slow lane – exploring the island, checking out the local eateries and walking the dog on the many empty beaches that the island offers in winter. This photo of a dirt road and a cluster of country mail boxes evidences secluded island life. Alpacas graze side by side with sheep and children catch the Space Shuttle to school Rural Bruny offers picturesque sights of green paddocks and dirt roads The Adventure Bay Market has delicious home baking, cards featuring Tasmanian birds and wildlife and hand-knitted alpaca garments. A second hand stall is a fund-raiser to purchase new carpet for a local church. The weekend always flies by, and all too soon its Monday. After a leisurely breakfast its time to drive back to Roberts Point to catch the 10.00 am ferry back Kettering and to work in Hobart Kettering The South Bruny National Park showcases the natural heritage of the island and the (now de-commissioned) South Bruny Lighthouse (1838) is testament to the importance of the waters around Bruny to early shipping. Tourism is developing well on the island which boasts a number of unique attractions that includes the Bruny Island Cheese Co, Get shucked (oysters), Bruny Island Premium Wines, Bruny Island Smokehouse, the Bligh Museum that specializes in the maritime history of the region, a local art gallery and Rob Pennicott’s Award Winning Bruny Island Cruises. The island has approximately 600 permanent residents and I’ve heard that this swells to over 3,000 in peak holiday times. There is a long tradition of timber cutting which has been surpassed by farming and tourism today. The island has been classified by Birdlife International as an Important Bird Area because it supports the world’s largest population of the endangered Forty Spotted Pardolote, 13 of Tasmania’s 14 endemic species with good populations of Swift Parrots and a breeding colony of short-tailed shearwaters. Bruny Island is a haven for wildlife. Seabirds are easily seen, and thousands of birds gather at Daniels Bay at low tide or perch near the water on available vantage points Black-faced cormorants and Pacific Gulls, Grundy's Point, Bruny Island. Black-faced cormorants are sometimes seen at the Roberts Point ferry station Pacific Gulls and Pied Oyster Catchers relax in a quiet corner of Adventure Bay. White-faced herons stalk the shallows in the still mornings and are often seen in front of the house, A White-bellied Sea Eagle is often perched in a dead tree just south of the Neck late in the afternoon The garden at Sunset Bay is frequented by many birds that include Green Rosellas shrike thrushes New Holland Honey-eaters (here’s a photo taken elsewhere) and elusive Flame Robins Scarlet robins rarely sit still long enough for a photo, Nor does the brilliantly coloured Superb Fairy Wren, Noisy wattle birds are heard from the tops of the tallest trees. Brown Falcons are frequently seen at roadkill or perched on power lines along the road, A rare sighting of a wedge-tailed eagle was especially welcome The Tasmanian sub-species is widespread, yet uncommon. The declining population is due to habitat loss, decline in breeding success due to nest disturbance and a small breeding population (approximately 95 pairs raise a chick each year and the mortality rate among chicks is thought to be around 50%), decline in the number of mature birds and an unnaturally high mortality rate possibly due to persecution. I was lucky to see a flock of feeding Yellow tailed black cockatoos at the roadside. The closest was 3-4m from the car and I was able to get good photos of this bird chewing into a branch to extract a juicy grub. The ripping of the bark and gnawing of the branch were quite loud for a bird of this size.
  7. A friend sent me this link to an amazing story - a swimming echidna. This was filmed in Maria Island NP which is about 10 km from the sunny East Coast of beautiful Tasmania.

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