Tasmania, separated from the mainland of Australia since the last Ice Age, has developed a unique character of its own. A dramatic and spectacular island, strewn with rugged mountain ranges and wild forests, it supports a natural history that is rich and often bizarre. This comprehensive tour presents an opportunity to enjoy the very best of Tasmania’s wild landscapes and distinctive selection of birds, plants and mammals, including such appealing creatures as fairy wrens and Fairy Penguins, Echidnas, Wombats, Platypus, Pademelons and Tasmanian Devils!
We begin and end our holiday in Hobart, from where we are able to explore Mount Wellington in search of the many Tasmanian endemic bird species which occur here, amongst them Green Rosella, Dusky Robin, Scrubtit, Brown and Tasmanian Thornbills, Black Currawong and Black-headed, Yellow-throated and Strong-billed Honeyeaters as well as many other colourful and interesting species.
To the south, on Bruny Island, we next explore another stronghold of endemic birds and, as well as such species as Tasmanian Native-hen and Yellow Wattlebird, we will be looking for the island’s speciality, the Forty-spotted Pardalote, one of Australia’s most endangered species. As dusk draws in, we will settle into position for the spectacle of Little Blue (or Fairy) Penguins and Short-tailed Shearwaters that come in from the ocean to their burrows each evening. On another evening we will head out after dark to spotlight for quolls (native cats), possums and wallabies, following a daytime cruise from Bruny in search of seabirds. Being so far south, some of the Southern Ocean cormorants, albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters and terns may be seen, as well as dolphins, seals and perhaps even a Southern Right Whale.
Next we will visit Mount Field, Tasmania's first national park which was established in 1917. It offers the wild, diverse and primeval beauty of the Tasmanian ‘bush’s, with forests of giant trees and huge tree ferns, plus, at higher levels, a unique alpine flora, particularly towards the summit of the mountain. Similarly, with such a wide range of altitudes and habitats within the park, a great diversity of both birds and mammals may be found, the latter including many that are either extinct or endangered on the mainland such as the Eastern Quoll and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot. Indeed, it was near here — in the Florentine Valley in 1933 — that the world’s last Tasmanian Tiger was trapped, to be displayed in Hobart Zoo for the rest of its sad days.
We now head into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, a vast expanse of contingent national parks and conservation areas that protects one of the last great temperate wilderness regions in the world. It includes the Southwest, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers and Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Parks, and protects a stunning range of ancient landforms and forests, deep and wild rivers, narrow gorges, jagged mountain peaks and sub-alpine moorlands. Here we will make a spectacular journey on the West Coast Wilderness Railway, which largely follows the course of the King George River through this vast and virtually impenetrable wilderness, taking us from the old mining town of Queenstown to Strahan, on the west coast. Here we will cruise the waters of the vast and magnificent Macquarie Harbour, enclosed by a magical and pristine environment of wild rivers and forests of Huon Pine, an endemic tree species which can live to be over 2,000 years old, making it one of the longest living species on Earth!
We continue our exploration of this magnificent wilderness by visiting Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, one of the most dramatic and spectacular landscapes of Australia and a great place in which to find some of Tasmania’s mammals. These include such species as Rufous-bellied Pademelon, Bennett’s Wallaby, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Wombat, Echidna, Tasmanian Devil and Spot-tailed Quoll. The park also offers great walking opportunities and an abundant birdlife.
A night in Launceston gives us time to visit the nearby Cataract Gorge before we travel to the beautiful Freycinet Peninsula with its stunning white sandy beaches and spectacular views towards the pink granite mountains of the Hazard Range. The park contains around 145 of Tasmania’s 230 bird species, due to the high diversity of habitats and associated plants found here, and we will devote a day to its exploration from our base in nearby Bicheno. We will also spend an evening watching Little Blue Penguins as they come ashore to their nesting burrows.
Back in Hobart for our final night in Tasmania, prior to our homeward flight, there will be a chance to re-visit Mount Wellington in search of any of the endemic birds that we may have missed during this comprehensive tour.