Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

No Penguin Tour for You!


After a leisurely (the entire) afternoon drive, Al and I had finally arrived at our destination, Bicheno, Tasmania, population 640 and one penguin tour company. We went straight to the tour company to make sure we could get booked in, but alas, it was booked out! How could this be, this isn’t even tourist season? Apparently, it is bus tour season, because it was a busload of tourists that booked the tours!

Bicheno

The tour operator seemed to genuinely feel bad and told us to just go to the beach at dusk and we would see penguins.
With lots of time on our hands before dusk, we decided to go exploring. There is a wildlife park in Bicheno, being the animals lovers we are, we had to go there. Tasmania has many unique animals such as the tasmanian devil, quolls and bettongs and the wildlife park has them all. The bettong looks like a cross between a rat and a wallaby. It is very small like a rat, but hops like a kangaroo. Very cute!

Bettong

The Eastern quoll is about the size of a cat with a beautiful spotted coat of thick soft fur, but has a head like a rat.

Eastern Quoll

The tasmanian devil reminds me of a little tiny bear, but it has a red mouth. Vicious!

Baby devil at the park

All of these animals are nocturnal so they are not easy to see in the wild. Tasmania is also home to many different kinds of possums, kangaroos, potoroos, wallabys and other animals that roam the night.
After a visit to the zoo we decided to go and see the blowhole. It was quite spectacular when the waves were large.

Blowhole

Being in Tasmania one has to dine on crayfish as it is the local favourite. It was very nice and easily as big as a good size lobster. One thing I didn’t get to try while in Tassie was the abalone. Tasmania has abalone farms. Considering that abalone has been illegal in Canada since the 80’s, I wanted to have my chance to try it again. I was told it was only available in restaurants in Hobart. By the time we got to Hobart, we were tired and did not dine out in a restaurant with abalone. Next time!
Finally dusk had arrived, we went to the beach and waited and waited and waited.

Waiting

It was not a warm day, in fact it was quite cold. Finally there is was…a tiny fairy penguin.

fairy penguin

So cute! We decided to go back to the blowhole because that is where most locals had said we could see the penguins, they were right. There were tons of them coming out of the water to make their way up the beach for the night. It amazes me that they come in to the rocky shores even when the waves are pounding. It doesn’t seem to bother them at all. They mutter and mew amongst themselves and if a person gets too close they hiss and growl, which I found quite amusing because they are extremely harmless and small and very very cute. I guess they figure if they sound big, they will be safe!
After spending far too long with the fairy penguins, we decided we had better hit the road for the one and a half hour drive back, or so we thought that was how long it would take. It took way longer!
Why, because there was as many animals on the road as there was in the wildlife park. I am sure of it. It was a slow process so as not to add to the amazingly large amounts of road kill one sees in Tasmania. We saw two wallabies, kangaroos, many possums (too many to count), and tons of frogs! Because Al was driving so slow, we managed to snake our way through all of them without mishap.
We were driving over a bridge when I glanced to the side and there sitting on the stringer was a devil. I started screaming to Al, it’s a devil, it’s a devil!

Devils

Al being the sweetheart he is, turned the car around to take a second look. Sure enough, there was a tasmanian devil sitting on the side of the bridge. When we pulled up he growled and barred his teeth at us. He was not pleased with being disturbed. Very vicious looking and yet still incredibly cute. Most Australians will go their entire lifetime without seeing a devil in the wild and here we were, sitting on a bridge, in the dark, out in the middle of nowhere, looking at a wild devil. Lucky, lucky lucky! What an extraordinary day!

 

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