The plane trip from Sydney to Hobart was about 90 minutes. We landed and caught a bus to
Greg hailed from Newcastle, a few hours north of Sydney. It had been many years since he had traveled to Tasmania so we were essentially discovering the island together. Thank-the-goddess he was used to driving on the left side of the road. He had driving rights, since I jumped every time we went around a corner the first three days, seeing oncoming traffic in our lane. We stopped for groceries and headed to the island's SE corner known as the Tasman Peninsula.
My first look at the cliff shores of Tas came at Eagle Hawk Neck, a narrow isthmus with a stunning view of beach and craggy cliffs below. I didn't know we were looking down on Pirates Bay, a place I would soon experience one of the most magical nights of my life.
We were looking for a place to park for the night when I suddenly spotted my first wallaby ... the marsupial that looks like a miniature kangaroo. He was standing along the side of the road. Thus, my first Tas wildlife shots were through the windshield. No matter. I was stoked!
|Thru the windshield ...|
I awakened next morning to a shrill call, somewhere between a laugh and a shriek. It was a Kookaburra. I couldn't believe it -- had sang of them, in rounds, at age ten at summer camp in Iowa, with no clue to their home or description:
"Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
merry merry king of the bush is he,
laugh Kookaburra laugh Kookaburra,
how gay your life must be."
Decades later, here they were! --- sitting a gum tree outside the van. I would hear them every day in Tasmania and never tire of their raucous interruptions.
We proceeded on a drive around the Tasman Peninsula; parked at the end of a gravel road at a trailhead and began a hike. Within the first ten minutes we saw two different snakes. We later learned that Tas has three snakes and all three were poisonous. These two, a tiger and copperhead, were slithering along minding their own business. I was fascinated, having escaped the female aversion to the biblical enemies. The hike to the end of the peninsula was deeply moving, through ancient eucalyptus that belonged in an HC Anderson fairy tale. I expected to hear them speak. The overlook ending was breathtaking.
We lunched on the edge of lavender fields, visited deep ravines in rocky seaside cliffs and that evening made our way through funky Doo Town to Pirate Cove for an event only the locals knew to tell: the nighttime arrival of the Fairy Penguins. Fairy Penguins are the smallest penguin on earth, standing only about a foot or two. They spend daylight hours fishing and feeding in the cold ocean and every nightfall they return to their sandy burrows onshore. We sat in darkness, the beach lit only by the light of a half moon. We were about to give up when suddenly there they were. First one, then two, three, and dozens ... waddling ashore and walking within inches of where we sat on the beach. They passed right by and up the sandy hill to their burrows. Remarkable climbers. Otherworldly sight.
Fairy penguins are are a blueish black/gray. I did not take photos of their arrival, as white light disturbed their migration. Folks were asked to put a red cloth over flashlights. (There were only six of us spread out along the beach.) Greg had a red swatch from a prayer bundle. So appropriate. I wish I had photos, but no image could have captured the magical migration of the little ones. I was privy to a mystery.
|So impressed with the cooperative effort ...|
|Waiting for the Penguins|
|Forests and Lavender|
|This was a great accompaniment to the scrumptious celery soup. The foodie delights just beginning!|
Birds along the way ...
|How many Oyster Catchers do you see?|
|Where we saw the snakes|