I still intend to post photos from Mt Field NP and the Tasman Peninsula to complete my collection of Tasmanian excursions. When I do, I will back-date them to keep them with the Cradle Mountain post.
I haven’t been altogether idle in the three weeks since my last post here. In fact, I have spent more time than usual working on my site – but the Words & Images blog and the Music section rather than Green Path.
As my regular readers may have expected, I made a point of photographing all the wildlife (large and small) I came across in my few weeks in Tasmania in November and I have been uploading those photos to iNaturalist in between blog posts. There are a couple of samples here but this link should take you to all of them on a single page on iNaturalist.
Now that I have finished, an overview is possible.
I ended up with 100 photos, not many in comparison to what I would have seen and photographed in a similar amount of time in the bush in tropical Queensland.
I could have taken lots more photos of the common birds (silver gulls, black ducks, currawongs, sparrows, etc) and marsupials (Bennett’s Wallaby, Pademelon), of course, but that would only highlight the (relative) lack of diversity in another way.
I saw but didn’t photograph a few echidnas and one platypus but no wombats or devils and none of the smaller macropods. I likewise saw birds I was unable to photograph, but not enough to change my views about numbers or variety.
More than three quarters of of my species were invertebrates, i.e., insects and spiders. Their relative numbers were not what I would have seen up here in Townsville, as I saw far fewer butterflies and far more beetles, proportionally, down there.
I did photograph quite a lot of tiny moths, flies and midges but I suspect that was partly my urge to record every possible bug in the unfamiliar environment. I might not try quite so hard here, knowing that I’m likely to see them again soon.
Tasmania is not very big, especially to Queenslanders like us, but Cradle Mountain is as hard to get to as Strahan, and for similar reasons: it’s at the end of several hours’ drive into wild country whether you start from Hobart or Launceston. Launceston is the closer of the two but the trip still takes a couple of hours – down the highway towards Burnie, then through Sheffield, past Mt Roland and up into the northern edge of the highlands. It’s worth the effort.
The entry-point to the park is a big new visitor centre with a carpark to match. Free shuttle buses run from it all day to Dove Lake, the end of their run, with stops at accommodation, walking tracks and the ranger centre.
We fitted the Dove Lake walk and two shorter walks (Enchanted and Waldheim) into the two long half-days we had there. Another day would have been nice, but I’ve already said that about several other places we saw, so I guess we really needed a longer holiday.
We stopped in Zeehan on our way from Cradle Mountain to Strahan, and passed through Queenstown on our way from Strahan back to Hobart.
The two towns have similar histories, having prospered – boomed, in fact – because of mining in the late nineteenth century but dwindled during the twentieth. In this they resemble Charters Towers and Ravenswood in the Townsville hinterland, and all four towns have public buildings out of all proportion to their current population.
A North-South line through Hobart and Launceston divides Tasmania fairly accurately into the settled East and the wild West. The West is wetter and far more mountainous, and much of it is wilderness (and long may it remain so!). Macquarie Harbour opens onto the middle of the West coast and was one of the most isolated outposts of the early colony. Its main township, Strahan, did well enough from fishing and timber-getting to survive but is still a tiny spot of humanity in a world of mountains, water and trees.
Strahan is now a pretty little town strung along the northern coast of Macquarie Harbour. Fishing and timber are still important but tourism, exemplified by day-long harbour tours on big catamarans, has become a major activity.