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 The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #026

Editorial

I'm writing this while sitting on the banks of the Mersey River in Devonport. We've been killing time for a day or two, waiting to board the ferry tonight.

I mention to Chris that I'm looking forward to getting back on the mainland, she agrees, and after some discussion we realise what our problem is.

We're claustrophobic!

That's right, we can quite happily hibernate for days in a house the size of a shipping container, but we feel hemmed in by the island state.

Go figure.

I guess it's something to do with horizons. With all the hills in Tasmania the horizon is never very far away. The attractions are also never far away, which is good in most respects, but we don't get that feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, of vast plains leading to a flat horizon

We love Tasmania, have enjoyed our time here, and will certainly be back, but, for the moment, we can't wait to get into the Australian outback and see some horizons.

 

 

Sun 14 Mar 2004

No sound from the rat last night, maybe he's gone, but I do find a butterfly resting on the bitumen.


Butterfly on the bitumen in the carpark.

Anyway it's time for us to move on. We pack up, drive back into town, and turn left towards the Bay of Fires.

Half an hour later we drop anchor at Swimcart Beach. We have a great spot right near the sand.


Our campsite on beach at Swimcart.

Mon 15 Mar

"Tell 'im to get outa bed" I hear from outside, and it's only 10 o'clock, how rude.

I stumble from the bedroom and out onto the deck, to see a familiar face looking up from the sand.

It's Shorty, we camped with him at Ningaloo in Western Australia over a year ago.

He's camped at the other end of the beach, and saw Wothahellizat while on his morning walk. Shorty's a nice old fella, he's travelling around Australia by himself in a small Winnebago that must be as old as he is.

Later I walk down to Shorty's for a chat and a beer.

Wed 17 Mar

This morning I ride up the coast to check out some other campsites. I find several good ones, but they're not good enough to warrant moving.

As I near the turnoff to Cosy Corner I see two girls standing on the road, flagging me down.

They obviously aren't hitching a ride, I'm on a motorbike.

I pull over and immediately see their problem, a car half buried in the dirt and trees, several metres off the road.


The pranged vehicle in the bushes.

They ask for a phone as theirs doesn't work here.

Mine does, but I don't have it on me. There are some houses just a few hundred metres away however, so I ride back to find out if anyone is home. They follow on foot, and by the time I find someone they have arrived so I let them tell the rest of the story and I head off.

On returning to the crash site I try out my crash investigation skills.

There's a crest about 100 metres from where they ran off the road, and skid marks starting soon after the high point of the crest.

The girls are young and on holiday from Europe, ie. not experienced drivers and probably have never driven on dirt roads before.

My guess is that they were driving too fast for this type of road, lost traction when they crested the hill, then braked, with the predictable result.

It's a common problem with people not used to driving in the country. Driving on dirt roads is not the same as driving on bitumen.

TIP: If you're not used to driving on gravel roads TAKE IT EASY. A couple of years ago we heard of three separate fatalities on dirt roads in the Northern Territory. Without knowing the details I speculated that they were probably all rollovers, in rented 4x4s, with tourists at the wheel.

I was right.

ANOTHER TIP: If you're renting a vehicle, even if it's a 4x4, your insurance may not cover you when driving on dirt roads.

Thu 18 Mar

We've decided to get serious about the rat. I ride into town and buy two rat traps, the old fashioned kind that will break your finger if you're not careful when setting them.

I place one under the floor in the food storage area, and the other in the pantry. Rats are largely nocturnal though, so I don't expect any action until tonight.

Meanwhile I spend the afternoon exploring the rocks at nearby Cosy Corner.


A limpet clings to the wave-polished granite.


Crab claw on the sand.

At around midnight I hit the sack.

Ten minutes later I hear "thwack" from the kitchen.

I look in the pantry, no rat. Then I lift the floor and find it. The offending rodent is a Black Rat (Ratus ratus), although it's looking more like ratus deadus at the moment.

He's not in the trap though, just lying beside it. Maybe his reactions were fast enough to almost get clear. Maybe he jumped so hard he bashed his head on the floor.

Whatever happened, he's not dead, but does look a bit under the weather.

I pick him up, walk outside to place him on the grass some distance from the truck, then return to bed.

I didn't want to hurt the little fellow, but lately he's been gnawing everything, and it was only a matter of time before he munched on the plumbing or electrical systems.

I assumed that he was fatally wounded, but as I lie in bed I think that maybe he was just stunned. If that's the case he won't make it through the night, it's a cold clear night, too cold for such a little body to be lying in the open. Not to mention any predators that would make an easy meal of a stunned rat.

I get up again and retrieve the rodent, place him in our wire mouse trap, which in turn I place in one of the storage bins. One that's ratproof, just in case.

There's nothing more I can do, he'll either be alive in the morning, or not.

Fri 19 Mar

The rat is alive, and quite frisky.

We'll let him go, but not until we're about to leave as we don't want him running straight back into the truck.

Meanwhile I go down to the beach for some pre-dawn photography.


Pre-dawn light and a crescent moon.


Two cormorants fly through the early light.


Sea fog swirls around the nearby rocky point.

Then back again after breakfast.


Various recreational pursuits and the glittering water.

For the next few hours I work on some photos that must be prepared before we leave St Helens. It's slower going than I thought, so we decide to stay another day or so. That means we'll have to have a rodent release.

I carry the cage about a kilometre along the beach then turn inland to a sheltered spot in the scrub.

When I lift the lid he doesn't immediately realise that he's free. He pauses just long enough for me to grab a couple of photos, then our little guest waddles off into the undergrowth.


The rat pauses before making a break for freedom. The detail from the main photo shows a closeup of his eye, and gives an idea of what he is seeing, scary stuff.

Sat 20 Mar

Up before dawn again.


Another great sunrise.


The leaves on the beach are covered with dew.

I've got some business to attend to in St Helens next week, so we decide to stay here at Swimcart beach for another couple of days.

Mon 22 Mar

Today we see our first Tasmanian dolphins. Unlike dolphins we've seen in the past, who pretty much swim past and keep going, these ones hang around for an hour or so. There must be some good fishing to be had in this location, as they swim up and down the beach.

They're too far offshore for a decent photo, so I'm content to look for easier subjects.


This small reed has some of the coarse Swimcart sand adhered to the top of its stem.

Tue 23 Mar

We've been here over a week now, and I guess we really should move on.

We return to the sports ground at St Helens, then ride into the shops. It's time for our three-month food shop, trouble is prices here are way too expensive.

As we plan to spend the next three weeks in and around Mt William national park, we just buy enough food to see us through that time.

Thu 25 Mar

We leave St Helens and head north, turning off towards Mt William national park after a few kilometres.

At around 2 we pull over for a cuppa. We've no sooner sat down than a small Iveco 4x4 pulls along side. It's Steve and Connie, friends of ours from the Gold Coast. Neither of us knew that the other was in Tasmania, it's a small world.

Moving on we pull into the Eddystone Point carpark at around four. As we alight from the truck we find that the wind is so strong it's difficult to stand straight.

We walk up to the lighthouse and find it surrounded by dead mutton birds. It's the weirdest thing, 70 or 80 birds lying around the base of the lighthouse in varying stages of decomposition.


Dead mutton birds surrounding the lighthouse.

I've never seen anything like it, and cannot immediately explain how it would happen. I know mutton birds are prone to dying in large numbers, but why all around the base of the building? And why at vastly different times?, some are old dry carcasses, some are new.

It's as though the lighthouse was actually emitting a heat ray or something.

We move the truck to a spot overlooking the coast.


Our campsite overlooking the rocks and beach.


The beach and small sheltered harbour at Eddystone Point.

As the sun sets I head off looking for photos.


Late afternoon light on the lighthouse. As to the purpose of the small structure on the right?, I have no idea.

While walking along a track I startle an animal and just manage to see a tail disappear into the bushes. I put down most of my equipment and creep forward to find a wallaby staring at me.

The poor little mite has glaucoma in one eye.


Bennetts wallaby with glaucoma.

I take some photos, then return to the rest of my equipment. As I'm picking up my tripod I notice that there's a crescent moon. This would make a nice photo with the lighthouse in silhouette, but not from here.

After some scouting along the rocks I find a spot that juxtaposes the moon at about the right position relative to the lighthouse. The light has yet to fire up though, so I wait.

While waiting a movement catches my eye, a dolphin breaching just off shore. I wait for it to reappear. There he goes, wait a minute, it's black, and that dorsal fin must be two or three feet high.

It's a bloody killer whale!, a full size orca swimming just a hundred metres off the rocks.


Two killer whales cruise by. Female in the left photo, male in the right.

Ten minutes later I notice the first glimmer emitting from the huge rotating lens. I wait a few more minutes for the beam to brighten, then take some photos.


The crescent moon and lighthouse just after the light fires up.

It's dark by the time I've finished, so I follow my nose back to the rotting mutton birds, then return to the truck along the track.

Later Chris and I look at the lighthouse beam through the truck's roof hatch. It's a fascinating sight. The beam is quite visible in the sea mist as it knifes through the air just a few metres above our heads, so coherent that it's almost tangible.

We also notice a strange phenomenon. If we look away from the lighthouse, in the opposite direction, it appears as though there's another one on the nearby point. The beam bends in such a manner as to appear to be originating from a position directly in front of us, whereas it's really shining from behind.

It even appears to be rotating from a point 180 degrees from it's true source.

"Why does that happen?" Chris asks (after 20-odd years the poor dear still thinks I know everything).

"Well...it's because it's further away...over there"

She doesn't look convinced so I continue.

"And therefore it's not as near as it is here"

She's still not convinced.

"Which means that it looks smaller because it's not as near over there as when it's over here..."

At about this point she realises that I've got absolutely no idea, and we both burst into laughter.

I then start thinking about the mutton birds. It can't be a coincidence that they are all lying around this particular building, and not other tall structures along the coast.

It must be the light, as I said it's incredibly powerful, certainly strong enough to dazzle anything that flew too close, thereby causing it to collide with the tower.

Maybe that's the answer.

Fri 26 Mar

We're up before sunrise and walking along the rocks.


Pacific gulls fly past a crimson sunrise.


The lighthouse's beam reflects in the water.


First light touches the rocks.


The sun disappears behind clouds.

After breakfast I return to the lighthouse complex, consisting of three houses and associated out buildings.


Lighthouse staff houses and a tin shack.

I don't think there's any manned lighthouses in Australia these days, certainly these houses are abandoned. There are however some signs of recent habitation, and I'd say it's not that long since there was someone living here.

Then I return to the mutton birds. Many of them have mouths and eyes writhing with maggots, not a pretty sight.


Maggots in the mouth of a dead mutton bird.

But the maggots aren't having it all their own way. One of the older carcass's larval lodgers have abandoned ship, and are wriggling their way across the concrete footpath. They're tiny, between 1 and 3mm, and my guess is that their mommy laid them in a carcass that was already eaten out, so they have to search further afield for their food.


This fly is a bit late, the carcass is already dry.

Unfortunately for them they are vulnerable out in the open.

What attracted my attention in the first place was not the maggots, but some ants carrying small white things. It's only when I investigate closely that I realise what's happening.

The ants are having a field day, all they have to do is wander around until they bump into a maggoty morsel, pick it up, and return to the nest.

I follow an ant who found one of the larger maggots. His load is at least twice his size and probably three times his weight. He struggles across the 12 inches of concrete to the nest, each grain of sand, and minor furrow in the concrete, a huge obstacle to the tiny creature.

Finally he reaches home, a hole in the concrete surrounded by orange lichen.


The ant reaches home with a maggot dinner for the whole family.

For a few seconds he struggles as his wriggling load catches on a ledge, then he drags it into the darkness.

I can't help but feel sorry for the maggot, he never had a chance in life, and his future was not looking rosy as he disappeared into the earth.

Sat 27 Mar

We're booked to return to the "north island" in exactly one months time. It's a good 200k to the ferry wharf at Devonport, I hope we can make it in time :-).

The weather is perfect today, and being a Saturday there's plenty of people around launching boats etc.

We spend the day sitting on the deck, just watching the world go by and answering questions about the truck.

Mon 29 Mar

I get up early to photograph the rocks and the sunrise.


Another fantastic sunrise.

Later I get talking to Tony and Madeline, a couple who dropped into the point while on their way north.

Tony used to be in the army, and he worked on these trucks for years. He knows a lot about them, and we chatted for some time.

We also had a group of walkers surround us for a while, asking all the usual questions and taking photographs of the truck.

Apart from that we just watch the waves and explore the rocky coast.

Tue 30 Mar

After a bone-jarring trip from Eddystone Point we pull into Great Musselroe Bay.

We both explore the nearby national park and see hundreds of forester kangaroos. Mt William NP is largely open grasslands in the north, and the kangaroos spend most of the time grazing on the plains.

We also check out the campsites at Stumpies Bay, but decide it's not worth moving to any of them.

After lunch I return to the park to try and photograph the kangaroos.


Grass tree near the entrance to the park.

As I approach the turnoff I see it's largely blocked by a four-wheel-drive towing a boat. The occupants of the vehicle are standing in the middle of the road, answering the call of nature.

I slowly pick a path through the various obstacles, and proceed along the track. Within a few hundred metres I spot some 'roos and stop to watch them.

Minutes later the 4x4 approaches, I turn around to watch it, and see a hand emerge from the offside window. It's holding a can of beer. They stop right next to me and I reach out to take the beer, after all I don't want to offend anyone :-)

So far not a word has been spoken, why I was made this silent offering I'm not sure. I must just look like someone who needed a drink.

Anyway we do talk for some time, long enough to drink another beer. The fellas are over from the west coast, looking for some good fishing spots.

When they leave I return to my kangaroo watching.

It's interesting to watch the animals, but it's very difficult to get close. Even at a hundred metres away, through the bushes, I'm spotted by the alert marsupials and they run.


This is about as close as I can get to the forester kangaroos.

After several attempts I do get close to a small male. It takes about half an hour crawling through the long grass, but eventually I get to within 10m of the animal.

I then realise why I got so close, this is a bennetts wallaby, they appear to be very tolerant of humans.


There's nothing like a good scratch.


Now I know there's not much of nutritious value in grass, and therefore herbivores have to spend every waking hour eating. But really, you think he'd stop eating, just for a second, to do number twos.

Wed 31 Mar

Just after breakfast a young couple approach and ask if we have some jumper leads, their car won't start.

I don't have any leads, but I can charge their battery if they bring it to the truck.

They do that, and we leave the battery on the charger for a while. After about ten minutes I think that is probably enough, and carry it back to them.

We replace the battery in it's cradle and the car starts. The couple leave, and so do we.

The road is still dirt, but has recently been graded and therefore is in good condition. Just out of Gladstone we turn left and head north towards Petal Point, within eyesight of Tasmania's most north-easterly point.

We park with a view of the ocean and are immediately set upon by fellow campers, all with the same questions.

I talk at length with Jim & Ally, a young couple from Adelaide. They are interested in most of the things I am. Jim is also an architect and he is very very interested in the design of the truck.

The wind picks up, the truck is copping it broadside and rocking like a boat, so, just as you would a boat, I turn it into the wind.

Later I walk down to the sheltered area of the campground and stumble across Tony and Madeline, the couple I spoke with the other day at Eddystone Lighthouse.

We sit around their fire. Tony has built several campervans, and we talk about motorhome construction.

Thu 1 Apr

We had a howling gale last night, and it's still going this morning.

Our neighbour takes his three-legged Chihuahua for a walk, and the dog is having a hard time. It spots our truck and turns into the wind to investigate, however the tiny little thing can't make any headway. For a brief period it fights against the elements, then it's owner picks it up and comes over for a chat.

Early in the afternoon a car load of blokes turn up. They'd heard about the truck "on the radio", which I assume means a CB, and came over to have a look.

They are up this way to go fishing over on Flinders Island, but the weather makes that impossible.

They estimate that the wind is about 45-50 knots.

Fri 2 Apr

I ride around to Little Musselroe bay. It's more sheltered, and a nice spot, but not really worth moving the truck.

There's two fellows working on a new toilet. I pull up to say g'day and, before I open my mouth, one of them asks "How's that big truck going?".

He recognised me from the TV, and has also heard that Wothahellizat was in the district. "The whole island's talking about it", he says.

I return to the truck to find Chris preparing dinner. She needs a can of something from the under-floor storage, but finds more than she bargains for when she lifts the floor.

After disposing of our rat the other day we reset the trap and placed it back under the floor. Chris lifts the floor section and finds that the trap has another victim.

This time it's a mouse, and he's not as lucky as the rat. He had managed to eat most of the cheese from the trap, but got a bit greedy and paid the ultimate price.


The poor little mouse's last act was to try and get one more bite from the cheese.


I remove him form the trap and lay him on a rock in the sunset. RIP little mouse, I'm sorry.

I think we're ready to head north now. For several days we've been looking at maps and talking about where we'll go when we get back to the mainland.

Yesterday I enquired about moving our booking forward, but it would cost us more. Currently we're booked to travel on the 27th of April. However the 27th is the first day of the off-peak season, any earlier is in the shoulder period, and is therefore more expensive.

Sun 4 Apr

This morning we pull into Bridport, specifically to the Old Pier beach. Originally we only plan to spend the day here then camp just out of town, but it's a nice spot, so we decide to spend the night.

The old pier, which presumably lends its name to the beach, is really just a collection of rotting pylons. Not much use as a pier, but very photogenic, which is probably why there's a group of people photographing it.

They are on an adult education course from nearby Scottsdale.

The class leaves, but later, around sunset, the teacher and her friend return.

As the moon rises we photograph the old pier.


A new moon rises over the old pier at Bridport.

Mon 5 Apr

I get up before dawn to take some more photos of the pier, then we have breakfast, pick up our mail from the post office, and head for Launceston.


The old pier at dawn.

Wed 7 Apr

We've been in Launceston for a couple of days now, and we've found a very convenient spot to stay right near the town centre.

While here we've put new starting batteries in the truck. They never really recovered from their total discharge a couple of months ago, and for some time now I've had to give them a quick charge every morning before I could start the truck.

This is becoming a pain, and will be a real problem on the ferry in a couple of weeks, so we bite the bullet and buy two new N70ZZs at $145 each.

We're parked just across the road from Coles and take the opportunity to do our three-month shop.

I've also had the flat motorbike tyre fixed at the Honda dealer, just around the corner.

All-in-all it's been a very productive couple of days.

Thu 8 Apr

We don't want to be on the road over Easter, and I've got some work to do before we leave Launceston, so we move around to "our" spot on the creek.

The work I refer to is the scanning and cataloguing of 15 rolls of film, so the next few days will be spent doing that. Roll on digital. With a digital camera I could work on each day's photos in the evenings, not have to wait until I get into town, then have the massive task of working on hundreds of photos.

Sat 10 Apr

The police drop in as I'm relaxing with my evening beer. They're either just curious or going to move us on. They get out of the car without donning their hats, so I guess they're just curious.

Apparently they'd seen the truck around town, and wondered what the hell it was.

Now they know.

We chat for a while, presumably until they decide we're not undesirables (note the double negative, "not undesirable" isn't the same as "desirable"), then it's "OK we're off" and they're gone.

What with all the use of the desktop computer lately our batteries are running a little low, and I've set up the generator on the roof.

After tea we decide to start it up to replenish the batteries. I raise the roof hatch, lock it open, and reach for the generator's pull cord.

WHACK!

The hatch comes crashing down onto my head, handle first.

I obviously didn't lock the hatch very well. I swear rather loudly, which brings Chris to investigate.

Looking down I see blood dripping onto my arm. Bugger, not again, I did something similar a couple of months ago.

There's a one-inch gash in my scalp to which Chris applies some Dettol, and a strip of paper towel, held in place with one of her hair clips.

A class job that I'm sure any emergency ward would be proud of.

It's been a tough day, a brush with the law, and being assaulted by the truck. I need to lie down and listen to some music.

Wed 14 Apr

There's a particularly annoying ad on the TV here in Launceston. It's for a somewhat pretentious menswear shop, and suggests that I should "define myself" in their clothing. Like I need a $100 cravat to be defined.

They follow on to say that they cater for "any budget". Maybe I should go into town, slap $10 on the counter, and tell them to go all out with an ensemble that will define me.

Actually, now that I think about it, ten bucks would probably cover it.

Thu 15 Apr

Sometime after dark a coaster arrives and parks nearby.

For about half an hour they muck around settling the vehicle. They drive back and forth for no apparent reason, search around the area with a torch, and appear to be looking under the bus.

We've got no idea what's happening, but eventually things settle down.

Fri 16 Apr

We plan to leave town today, but by the time we've done some washing, and bottled the home brew, it's lunch time and we decide to stay put. Anyway, I need to do some web surfing.

I ride into the Launceston library and pay $6.50 for an hour on a computer.

While I'm clicking away I hear voices behind me. A young lad has entered the room, and he is talking to the women running the internet cafe.

It seems that he's had a rough time. I hear snippets of conversation...

"...so you stopped breathing then?"
"Yeah they did CPR."
"...something wrong with my heart..."
"They reckon it's too much stress..."

Too much stress! He can't be more than twenty years old.

Still it isn't all bad news, he's about to buy a new computer. Apparently he's just received some type of payout because his aunty was murdered.

And I sometimes think I've got problems.

Later, just as our neighbours are about to leave, they ask if they can have a quick look inside the truck.

Three hours later we're still talking. They decide to spend another night as well.

Jim and Susan are a nice couple, Americans who moved to Australia a few years ago. Jim's a retired photographer so we have a lot in common.

They explain last night's carry-on with their bus.

Apparently they camp here often, and have a rock secreted nearby that is just the right size to level their bus. Last night however they couldn't find the rock, and had to search for another.

Having found one they drove the rear wheel onto it, but the rock became stuck in between the dual tyres. Then they had to drive back and forth to extract it.

Sat 17 Apr

It's raining. We intend moving to Asbestos Range National Park from here but don't want to pay $8.80 per day to sit around in the rain, so we elect to stay put again.


Poplar leaf on the wet bitumen.

During a break in the weather I walk up to the shops to buy a paper, which we spend the rest of the day reading.

Sun 18 Apr

We leave Launceston and spend the night at Egmont Park, a nice little picnic area not far out of town.

Mon 19 Apr

We arrive at Narawntapu (Asbestos Range) National Park before lunch and are greeted by two wombats on the side of the road.

The campground is also swarming with wildlife.


A pademelon reaching for new leaves, it has a large youngster that appears to still prefer milk.


This spotted quoll looks and acts very much like a cat. It does its "rounds" several times a day, looking for handouts or anything left out by a careless camper.

After lunch I ride back along the road looking for the wombats. They've gone, but I see two more on the plain near the horse yards.

One of them allows me to approach very close.


At this time of year the wombats wander around on the plains all day.

I lie down in front of him and he continues to amble in my direction, getting so close I can no longer focus on him.

Later in the afternoon Chris and I walk up to the bird hide. It's a short walk, maybe a kilometre or so, through the forest and swamp that surrounds the lagoon.


The lagoon is surrounded by swamp and tee tree forest.


This pademelon is hopping in about one inch of water, in a spot that looks like it would be much deeper.

The light is great, and there's some swans quite close to the hide.


The bird hide allows you to get very close to the water birds.

On our return we find that we've caught yet another mouse. I walk into the scrub to release him, but he jumps to my hand and seems happy to stay.


Our captured mouse doesn't want to leave and sits on my hand.


Eventually I prise him off and set him down on a tree branch.

As the sun sets more wallabies emerge from the bush.


Bennetts wallabies forage around the campground at last light.

Tue 20 Apr

It's overcast today but I wander up to the lagoon anyway.


Great reflections in the swamp.


Swans fly towards the lagoon, set against the sun and clouds.


Reflections in the lagoon surface.

The light isn't great for wildlife photos, but good for the forest.


Two shots showing the weed on the water in the swamp.


The elevated walkway leading to the bird hide.


There is a small section of the forest that has erie-looking trees.


Two small mushrooms on the forest floor, each about 3/4" (19mm) high.


I spot a forest gnome walking along the trail.


He drops to all fours and crawls through the bush.


Eventually he decides that I'm harmless, and we sit for a chat.


The view from the bird hide.


Another view from the bird hide, this time using a slow shutter speed on some moving swans.

While watching the swans form the bird hide I notice a mushroom-like column of smoke on the horizon. It looks like a nuclear bomb has been set off somewhere around Westbury. Did we miss something? We'd better watch the news tonight.


Nuclear attack on Westbury, the swans don't seem to notice.

Later: No mention of a nuclear attack on Tasmania's north coast, I guess it was a bush fire.

Wed 21 Apr

Stick my head out before dawn but it doesn't look promising so I go back to bed. After about ten minutes I feel guilty though, so I get up again and go for a wander.


A Tasmanian devil trap. This one has sprung, so presumably there's a devil inside.

It really is quite dull though, and I'm hungry, so I return to the truck for breakfast.

Later I ride up to the horse yards and get up close and personal with some wombats.


Wombats are quite comical animals, in the first photo this one is scratching his backside.


Eventually I tire of photographing the front end.

Some fellow campers alert me to the fact that there's a wombat mom with baby on the nearby plains.


Mommy and baby wombat on the plains.

By moving slowy I manage to get very close.

Mum is a bit wary, but after watching me lying on the ground for about ten minutes, she settles down for a nap.


Curious young wombat with its relaxed, but still alert, mom.

The youngster is curious, but won't venture too far from mom.

Thu 22 Apr

Up to the lake before dawn. There's some low cloud cover that is moving fast and changing shape. This causes the sun to appear and dissapear frequently which creates many photo ops.


High clouds catch the sunlight first.


A tree stump and swans in the morning light.


Fantastic cloud formations reflecting.


Swans on a glistening water.


Non-fighting swans with clouds reflected in the lagoon.


ighting swans with clouds reflected in the lagoon.


The sun bursts through the clouds for a few minutes, creating some great light on the mist.


Then its gone and we return to misty conditions.


Three cormorants and a heron perch on a dead tree.


The park information building seen from the lagoon.


One of the park's out buildings, presumably an old farm house, as this area was a working property until the 70s.

Early in the afternoon I return to the plains. I see a wombat heading for a depression that I know has a pool at the bottom.


Wombat sauntering across the plain towards a water hole.

Reasoning that he's going for a drink I follow.

It's interesting to watch him drink. There's no obvious movement of any kind, no lapping, swallowing, or sucking. He just places his mouth on the surface of the water and appears to syphon the liquid.


Wombat drinking, there is absolutely no movement at all to indicate that he's doing anything other than dipping his mouth into the water.

After spending some time with the thirst-quenching wombat, I go looking for the mother and baby wombat. I don't find them but do encounter a small mob of forester (eastern grey) kangaroos.


A curious forester kangaroo.

Fri 23 Apr

I need to know the name of the lagoon I've been photographing for the past couple of days, so I go over to the park office.

The ranger is somewhat taken aback when I ask, "You know" he says, "it hasn't got a name, how can that be?"

He asks his offsider, she doesn't know of any name either, and they wonder about the procedure for naming national park features.

He seems to think that "Anthony's lagoon" would be suitable. It strikes me as being a little strange that he would pull that name out of the air, when most things these days are given aboriginal handles.

Then I look at his badge, "Anthony" it reads.

It's been raining most of the day but the pademelons and native hens still have to eat, so they are out getting wet.


Tasmanian native hens strut around then take a bath.


This fellow seems to have lost something.


I've finally figured out where the "melon" comes from in pademelon.


This one is looking a bit sorry for himself in the rain.

Both Chris and I notice that every now and then the pademelons and wallabies reach saturation point, and shake violently to shed the water.

I'm feeling too lazy to go outside in the rain with a camera, but Chris convinces me to get off my backside.

I'm glad she did, as I think the resultant photos are some of my best wildlife shots.


Pademelons shedding rain water from their fur.


The quoll returns to the campground, on the scrounge for a free feed.

Sat 24 Apr

We leave Narawntapu national park today.

As far as wildlife watching goes, this national park is probably the best I've encountered in Australia. Nowhere else I know of will you see wombats and quolls just wandering around in broad daylight. And the wallabies are everywhere.

The park is touted in it's own literature as being "Australia's Serengeti". Well I've been to the Serengeti, and I think they're drawing something of a long bow with that comparison, but I admit that, with all these animals out in the open plains, the feeling is similar.

TIP: Come in the autumn, firstly because the sun is low in the sky and the light is great. But mostly because the animals have young, and they are out in the open all day because it's cool.

We drive into Devonport and pull into our spot on the banks of the Mersey River.


I spot these mushrooms while driving along the road.

Sun 25 Apr

A few days ago I met local photographer Bob Iddon, and he offered me the use of his telephone line to upload the web site.

He lives in Ulverstone, about 20k away, so I ride up with my laptop.

Bob's a nice bloke and we chat about photography for some time. I've been researching digital cameras for the past six months and Bob owns a Nikon D100. He has thoughts on digital, and some equipment I can play with.

Tue 27 Apr

At about 6PM we drive over to the wharf and line up with the other mainland-bound vehicles.

All large vehicles are inspected by security to make sure they're not carrying dangerous goods, or smuggling someone inside the vehicle.

It normally takes one person to do this job, but in our case it seems that four security personnel are required. One to look under the bed, and three who can't resist a chance to have a look inside.

Finally we drive onto the ship, lock up the truck, and make our way to the cruise seats. They are just as uncomfortable as before, prompting me to dub them "bruise seats".

Just like our outbound trip six months ago, the safety video specifically states that people must sleep in their allocated cruise seats, and not on the floor, or in the public areas.

And also, just like the previous trip, no-one pays a blind bit of notice. By midnight it's almost impossible to walk around without tripping over a slumbering passenger.

I do lie down for a short time, but elect to read my book for most of the night.

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