Monday, January 25, 2010

Devil Take the Hindmost

On Saturday David and I drove my mother down to the Port Arthur penal colony for some historical education, and we stopped at the Tasmania devil conservation park en route.

TAZWhen I first told friends about our impending Tasmanian adventure, there were lot of jokes about watching out for rabid cartoon characters.  Most of you probably know Taz, the giant, slobbering whirlwind of a Tasmanian devil imagined into popular culture by Looney Tunes.  In reality, devils are quite shy little animals, about the same size as the average cat.  They sleep their days away, and go foraging for carrion at night.  Their name comes from the absolutely terrifying noises they make when they find carrion and start to fight amongst themselves for the privilege of eating it.  And they eat it with a set of jaws about the same size as those on your average dog.  As such, your average Tasmanian devil is about 60% body and 40% head.



Unfortunately for the little devils, their constant squabbling over food is rapidly leading to their demise.  The Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is endemic in the wild population – one of only three known contagious cancers.  The conservation park is currently breeding a disease-free population while working on a cure, so we were happy to pay their relatively steep admission fees.  Poor little devils, indeed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Spectacular Show

Hobart entered 2010 with incredible style. The day was, apparently, the hottest ever recorded in December (about 37 degrees Celcius, which is quite reasonable by the standards of most other Australian cities) and big storm clouds started to gather around 9pm. The lightening started around 10pm, and it lasted right through the midnight celebrations. David got some video from our living room window, but these pictures were assembled from various photographers by the husband of a colleague at work. I don’t know who to credit, but they were being emailed around as part of a slideshow so I think it’s OK to post them here as well. Enjoy!













For the record, David and I live in a waterfront apartment about 1/2 kilometre from the well-lit tower on the left (the Wrest Point casino), so we had pretty good seats for the show.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Wineglass Bay

Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park is another of Tasmania’s most-visited places. After a stunning lightening show on New Year’s Eve (another post to follow) David and I packed up our gear and headed up island to see what all the fuss is about. Here is the best picture I was able to take from the viewing platform versus a picture that someone else appears to have taken from an airplane.


I confess that it’s quite pretty, but must admit that I found Mt. Field National Park more to my tastes. I prefer trees and mountains to beaches, but am lucky to always find myself living in places where I have easy access to both. Perhaps the highlight of the day in Freycinet was running into the kooky customer at the tail end of our 12km hike.


This is a grass tree. I had never seen one before (they are native to Australia, like many other weird and wonderful flora and fauna), and was pleased to meet one that had a haircut similar to those inflicted on me by my mother when I was a child.