On our last morning in Tasmania we left Bicheno Backpackers around 8:00am and headed out to Wineglass Bay. We had about two and a half hours to do the hike we chose at our leisure. In order to get to the beach and back to our tour bus, you had to hike up one side of the mountain, down to the beach, and then back up the cliff side to go back down to the van. This was another day we got our workout in, and though my calves were definitely feeling it that night, it was worth the trip.
On our way back up from the beach, we came across a wallaby who was just a little too friendly with humans.
Our guide was explaining to us that many of the wallaby in the area have actually developed lumpy jaw disease due to humans feeding them. It’s a type of jaw infection that can be caused by poor diet. He said that he’s seen people feed them chocolate, pizza, potato chips… all foods that wallaby obviously not meant to consume. Another issue stemmed from feeding the animals is their reduced ability to find food for themselves. They become dependant upon the human hand that provides for them. Even if they don’t wind up with lumpy jaw disease, this reliance can become detrimental in the winter months when the number of visitors to the area is greatly reduced. Without the ability to forage for themselves, and without the regular tourist there to feed them, the wallaby are susceptible to starvation. No matter where you are folks, there’s a reason park rangers, zoo keepers, and others ask you to please not feed the animals!
Once we powered up the hill and returned to the tour van, we headed out to Ross. It was a small town with lots of antique and craft stores. There were two little bakeries, a wool museum (enticing, I know), and an interesting intersection known as the Four Corners. The buildings on each of the corners consisted of a church, a bar, the town hall, and the jail. It was sort of odd little mash-up.
When we were walking, we came across a sign on the ground that read “Female Factory.” We were curious and followed the arrows, but never found anything. Later we found a historical marker sign that also pointed to “Female Factory,” but it went in a direction perpendicular to the arrows we saw on the ground… so we weren’t really sure where or what it was.
Google, however, is a wonderful thing. When we returned I looked it up, and apparently the Female Factory used to be a factory where the female convicts of Tasmania worked… interesting.
After Ross we visited Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a rescue for injured and sick animals. They are also working to protect the endangered Tasmanian devil. We were given a brief tour and time to feed the kangaroos and check out the other animals. Our first interaction was with an elderly, grumpy koala.
At one point he jumped down from the tree and tried to make a break for it. Our guide was able to scoop him up and held onto him after that. We all had the opportunity to pet the fur on his bum, and then it was time for him to retire to his eucalyptus tree for the night. You’ve gotta love those fuzzy ears.
We were shown the Tasmanian devils next. They’re rather shy and reclusive creatures, and they had a bit of difficulty getting them to come out of hiding, but a dead chick was enough to encourage them.
The sanctuary had a two-year-old wombat, but he decided that his burrow was a much safer spot to be than out in front of us. I can’t blame the little guy. I’d probably be hiding in my burrow after being looked at, photographed, and in the public eye all day. It was also getting quite windy and it seemed as if a storm was moving in. Before we left, we did happen to see a different wombat wandering about. I was finally able to get a photo of a wombat from the front! They seem to prefer to show me their rear when my camera comes out.
As part of our tour, we were each given a small bag of pellets to feed the kangaroos. They had a lot of kangaroos, but all of them were so well-fed by the time we were there. The first few we tried to feed just kinda stared at us like, “Really? That’s all you have for me? Do you know how often I get that? Please…” There were a few further down the hill though who were more than happy to receive a few pellets.
Another neat animal we came across was a quoll, a carnivorous marsupial. I think they had three at the sanctuary, and they were quite lively little guys, running back and forth across the branches.
Having seen a Tasmanian devil and the unexpected perk of petting a koala, my imaginary must-do list of Tasmania had its final boxes checked. Our group met up at the van and headed out for Hobart. Knowing we needed to get a taxi to the airport later that afternoon, our guide dropped us off at Salamanca Market in Hobart, saying adios to “Team America.” We wandered around the market for a while, but everything was closing for the afternoon, so we found ourselves walking along the harbour. At about 7:00pm we hopped in a Taxi. Our Korean driver was quite talkative and really enjoyed his abalone and crab! He kept telling us all about the great spots to get amazing seafood in Tasmania… not knowing that two of his three passengers were vegetarian, haha! It would have been good advise if we weren’t though!
Our flight didn’t leave until 10:40pm, so we had plenty of time to kill in the airport. We read and chatted until our departure and arrived in Melbourne around midnight. The two girls I was traveling with were headed to Sydney the next day, with a flight departing in the afternoon. I’ll be going to Sydney during the trimester break, so I was headed back to Warrnambool, but the train didn’t depart until 7:19am the next day. It was airport camping for us! We wandered down a wing of the airport that didn’t have any departures so we would be in a quieter area, but an airport worker preferred that we be in an area with more people. (Apparently three American girls look like they might make a lot of trouble, but it was no big deal.) We stretched out on the benches/floor until morning. At about 5:00am I headed out to the train station and made it back to Warrnambool around 10:30am. It was quite the day, and it was nice to be back!
All in all, it was a great trip! There was a bit of confusion about the dates, but it all worked out in the end. We had a lot of great experiences and I’d love to go back sometime. For now, however, it’s time to start planning for the trimester break to Sydney and Cairns! My mom will be flying into Sydney to meet up with me, and hopefully my dad will be able to fly over when we go to Cairns. I have Tasmania checked off my Top 5 Australian Must-Do’s… time to check off a few more!