Best places to see wildlife in Tasmania?

Old May 4th, 2008, 08:17 AM
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Best places to see wildlife in Tasmania?

Where specifically would you suggest for a wildlife focused visit to Tasmania? My interest is seeing wildlife in the wild. Thanks!
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Old May 4th, 2008, 08:59 AM
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Suggestions for specific wildlife guides and/or tours are welcome too. We plan to drive around ourselves and don't want to join a tour for the duration of our trip or anything like that but wouldn't mind hiring a guide or joining a tour for the day or night.
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Old May 4th, 2008, 03:05 PM
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Cradle mountain is where we saw the most wildlife: echnida, wombat, poteroo, kangeroo, platypus, tasmanian devil (running across the road so we only had a glimpse).

Very early in the morning and dusk are good times to see them. If you stay at the Cradle Mountain Lodge, you will see them all around the cabins.

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Old May 4th, 2008, 03:58 PM
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Another vote for Cradle Mountain - wildlife nirvana.

For penguins, Bicheno and Stanley.

For birds, Tamar Island Wetlands (very near Launceston).
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Old May 4th, 2008, 04:43 PM
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Also Bruny Island - google Inala Tours who do wildlife tours of Bruny and other noted wildlife spots of Tasmania. There's a little town in Northern Tasmania actually named "Penguin", another good spot to see these animals.

If renting car from Avis, do check if they allow their vehicles on Bruny, when we were there last year, they didn't.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 10:32 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions everyone! And thanks Pat for alerting me to check possible restrictions. That's something I hadn't thought of.

I looked on the Avis website and found this restriction on Tasmania You and any Authorised Driver must not, unless authorised in writing by Avis, drive or take the Vehicle: above the snow line in Tasmania... from the beginning of June until the end of September.

We were actually thinking of going in August/September so that could be a problem. I'm guessing Cradle Mountain is "above the snow line"?

I haven't found the Bruny restriction yet but that's probably because I haven't looked hard enough.

I checked the Hertz website and didn't find any snow line restrictions just these on Tasmania:

The following roads are prohibited from use:

- The unsealed roads connecting Smithton and Zheehan:

(a) On the West Coast, any further south than the Arthur River township; and

(b) Inland any further south than where the Kanunnah Bridge crosses the Arthur River.

- The back roads between Oxford and Copping on the Southeast coast.

- The Ben Lomond Road above the bottom of Jacob's Ladder.


Are any of these on the "normal" tourist route?

Also Hertz has this general restriction regarding unsealed roads:

on any road or other surface which is not sealed other than a road under repair, a short access road to a National or State Park, tourist attraction or holiday accommodation or a road notified to you by Hertz, unless the Vehicle is a four wheel drive

Renting a 4WD increases the cost significantly. Is it necessary? Are there a lot of unsealed roads? How much snow/ice are we likely to encounter? My husband is originally from upstate NY so has lots of winter driving experience.

Finally, are we crazy to go to Tasmania in winter?
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Old May 5th, 2008, 01:39 PM
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I decided to call Avis at Devonport airport for clarification. I was told Cradle Mountain is not considered above the snow line so we could go there. Places she mentioned were considered above snow line are Mt Wellington and Ben Lomond. Avis cars are not allowed on Bruny. Graded unsealed roads are OK.

She also mentioned that the road to Cradle Mountain may close if the weather's bad. I asked how likely that was and she said it was hard to say. I called Cradle Mountain Lodge and asked the same question and they said it was extremely rare.

I'd still like to hear others' thoughts on the sanity of going to Tassie in winter in general and 4WD vs non-4WD. Thanks!
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Old May 5th, 2008, 03:56 PM
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We rented a normal car to go round Tasmania earlier this year. In a 2 week holiday (Freycinet, Cradle Moutain, Strahan, Lake St Clair, Hobart) we only encountered 2 short unsealed roads: to Friendly Beaches at Freycinet National Park and to the ocean beach at Strahan. In each case, I confess I interpreted them as "short access roads" and took the non-4WD down them.

I don't think you need to rent a 4WD in Tasmania, but I'm not sure how wintery conditions would effect that decision.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 04:45 PM
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Hi Patty -

We visited Tassie in October one year and had fabulous weather. We also visited in March and had horrendous weather. I'd have guessed it would have been the other way around, but no...In other words, there's really no telling what the weather will be like.

Take your rain gear and fleece, and go with the attitude of enjoying your visit no matter the weather and you'll be fine.

During our visit to Cradle Mountain (October) we had excellent weather - we were told by a parks employee that it'd snowed two days prior to our arrival. She also told us that the area only gets about 35 really nice days a year, the sun shines 1 day in 10 and that it rains 7 out of 10 days, so the weather is iffy at best anyway.

During our visit in March we had multiple days of torrential rain at Lake St Clair, snow on Mt Wellington and plenty of wet, cold days throughout. But we still had a great trip.

We didn't need a 4WD on either of our visits, and we tend to take the road less traveled when possible.

We did encounter some unsealed roads, but not enough to warrant a 4WD vehicle IMO. If I remember correctly, the road to the Tahune Forest Airwalk was unsealed (in 2004 anyway) and it's 29 km from Geeveston, so apparently 29 km would be considered "a short access road to a National or State Park, or tourist attraction".

The drives you've mentioned as being on the 'no drive' list aren't routes a visitor would be inclined to take anyway. We drove as far as the Arthur River Township and I had the distinct impression that most visitors don't even get that far, let alone keep going.

Don't worry, a regular car will be fine.

Have a fantastic trip!
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Old May 5th, 2008, 07:21 PM
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OK, 2WD it is!

Pat,
Is this the penguin tour you're referring to? http://tinyurl.com/56rq3d This was the closest one I could find to the town of Penguin or are you not referring to any tour specifically, just the area in general.

Has anyone done the platypus tour at Warrawee forest reserve? http://tinyurl.com/6pf26q

Has anyone been to Narawntapu NP? It's dubbed the "Serengeti of Tasmania" by the park service but I can't seem to find any comments from anyone who has actually been there.

Thanks everybody!
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Old May 6th, 2008, 03:43 AM
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No, Patty, the one I was referring to was Inala Tours, the recommendation came from the leader of a birdwatching (and other animals) group from US who visit Cairns, Daintree, Atherton Tableland every second year in November and who I've got to know well over the years. After they leave FNQ, Tasmania is an optional extra for their group who go to Bruny Island, Crater Mtn and also take a flight into wilderness south of Strahan, specifically for for some type of rare parrot whose name eludes me and am sure is of little interest to anyone but an avid birdwatcher.

Didn't use a tour for Penguin, a local told us where to spot them there. It wasn't far from the town, though. And there's a very helpful man there in the tourist info office. Penguin also has an interesting market, but probably only open on weekends.
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Old May 6th, 2008, 11:22 AM
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Thanks, Pat!

For those who have stayed at Cradle Mountain Lodge (or other accommodation in the Cradle Mountain area), did they feed the wildlife? I thought I saw a reference to CML and wildlife feeding somewhere (now I can't remember where I saw it!) and was wondering if it's true and whether it's still practiced.
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Old May 6th, 2008, 03:59 PM
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Feeding the wildlife within Cradle Mountain is not allowed and for good reason - some foods cause diseases in the animals (such as lumpy jaw) and can have disasterous affects. Feeding also causes some animals to become aggressive, and increases the population around visitor areas which can damage vegetation and cause inbreeding.

Please don't feed the animals.

An exception would be if you're visiting a wildlife sanctuary/park that feeds kept animals on a regular basis and feeds them proper foods.
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Old May 6th, 2008, 04:21 PM
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Thanks, Melnq8! I saw some non-park accommodations as well as tours that fed wild animals (not in a sanctuary) that made me uncomfortable. That's why I asked. And I could've sworn I saw some reference to CML doing this but it may have been very outdated or wrong info and like I said, I can't seem to find where I originally saw this.
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Old May 6th, 2008, 05:00 PM
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Lots of animals come down to the CML because of the abundance of grasses (native and introduced), but they are definitely not deliberately fed there. There was also a devil living under the lodge itself.

The only place I can think it could be is the privately owned Tasmanian Devil operation, I seem to recall it advertised "feeding times."
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Old May 7th, 2008, 12:34 PM
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I'm glad you guys both confirmed there's no feeding there, thanks!

How does this itinerary sound?

Day 1 - arrive Devonport at 1:15pm, pick up car and drive to Cradle Mountain
Day 2 - Cradle Mountain area
Day 3 - drive to ? to meet Chris Coupland creaturesofthenight.biz (he came highly recommended by a friend's colleague who lives in the area) for an afternoon/evening wildlife tour to ?, overnight ?
Day 4 - drive to Kettering, ferry to Bruny
Day 5 - Bruny
Day 6 - ferry back to Kettering, drive to Hobart
Day 7 - fly out of Hobart at 10:30am

? = Chris is based out of Sheffield, but I'm not sure at this point where the tour would start/end and where we'd go, so it's possible we could be sleeping anywhere from Devonport to Launceston or somewhere in between that night.

Is it too ambitious? Particularly, I'm not sure about making it all the way to Bruny on Day 4. Would you suggest adding a stop in between (where?) and cutting Bruny down to 1 night? Would it be worth going to Bruny for 1 night? Would Maria be a suitable alternative to Bruny? How do the two compare? Maria would be a day trip only (the accommodations sound a little on the spartan side ) so I'm leaning more towards Bruny just because I get the feeling we'll see more wildlife at dusk and dawn than during the day, but maybe I'm wrong. Is there something else you would cut instead? Thanks!
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Old May 7th, 2008, 03:01 PM
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Just to update and summarize what I've found so far regarding rental car policies and in case anyone else is interested in this information:

Avis
Bruny - No
Unsealed roads - OK

Hertz
Bruny - OK
Unsealed roads - AUD2000 non-waivable excess in case of accident

Budget
Bruny - OK (no cover if the ferry sinks but they said the ferry owners will cover us in case that happens )
Unsealed roads - OK

Thrifty
Bruny - OK
Unsealed roads - AUD1650 non-waivable excess in case of accident

BTW everyone is so friendly! I'm not used to that
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Old May 7th, 2008, 04:20 PM
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Patty -

This site might help regarding TAS driving distances:

http://www.rentforless.com.au/distances.htm

Sorry, I can't help with Bruny Island, as we've not yet been there (notice I say 'yet').

Liz lives in TAS, maybe she'll chime in.

The 'creatures of the night' site states it leaves from different departure points, so it appears there's some flexibility there.

Just a note about insurance excess in Australia - if you have a US issued Visa card, it may well cover the excess (mine does) - suggest you check coverage with them. Of course, it's no help if you damage the car while off roading or something, but it's nice to know they cover that huge excess otherwise.
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Old May 7th, 2008, 05:21 PM
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Liz can see Bruny Island across the water from where she lives in the lovely Huon Valley, but right now she's gadding around Hong Kong and China. She should be home in about a week, so she'll probably chime in then.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 02:59 PM
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Too tight all around. The drive to Kettering from Cradle Mountain is probably 4 hours and you would have to coordinate with the ferry exactly to catch it to Bruny. We did Bruny as a day trip from the Huon and the wonderful Matilda's which has unfortunately now changed hands. I don't remember that ferries were more frequent than once per hour each direction. The return from Bruny thinking you will just dash to Hobart airport, return the car and make your flight is also too tight, IMHO. And if the Bruny ferry sinks, you've got bigger problems than your insurance coverage!
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