Wildlife in Tasmania is abundant, unafraid, often unique to the island, and hence for most part relatively easy to spot. Compared to the mainland and other popular wildlife spotting destinations, the animals are often exceptionally easy to get close too. Even the Tasmanian Devil (seen above in a photo take by Barry Irons at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary), which has suffered a major blow with the Devil Facial Tumour Disease, can be seen in the wild with the right experts and guides and in the right parts of the island. Tasmania has some of the best wildlife guides and experiences in Australia and with some careful itinerary planning there is no reason why it isn’t possible to see all Tasmania’s wonderful creatures and birds in their natural habitat. Tasmania also has some world class wildlife sanctuaries which are dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing wildlife, and to educating others, locals and visitors alike, about the need to be vigilant and responsible.
If your yearning is to see Wombats, Platypus, Quolls, White Wallabies and even Tasmanian Devils in the company of some of Australia’s greatest characters, look no further. Here are some of the best wildlife tours available to visitors in Tasmania through Tasmanian Odyssey:
Craig ‘Bushie’ Williams is quite simply one of Australia’s greatest bush men and wildlife guides. You don’t roam the north eastern forests, lakes and mountains of Tasmania for fifty odd years since childhood without learning a thing or two about the land, its wildlife and your own survival, and Bushie has been master of this land since he was a wildlife-obsessed eight year old. If you long to see Platypus, Craig’s your man. Don’t just expect to see one either, more like five or six in an hour or two. His ‘Puggles and Bubbles’ tour combines the best of the Tamar Valley’s wines and sparklings with Platypus spotting by a beautiful lake on private land near the little town of Scottsdale followed by a tour around the boutique wineries of the Tamar Valley which produce Australia’s top wines.
Then it’s off to the tallest flowering trees in the world, the white swamp gums, in a hidden copse down a secret track in a forest that was first discovered by Bushie’s father and grandfather, both from a long line of forestry workers who knew these massive trees like the back of their hands. After a day exploring the forests and spotting Echidna, Tasmanian Pademelons, Wallabies, Forester Kangaroos and Playtpus, not to mention dropping the occasional line for your lunch, you will find yourself at Bushie’s ‘restaurant in the sky’, his rustic shack somewhere in the wilderness around Ben Lomond, and in the shadow of Tasmania’s second highest peak. Here you will experience the bushtucker BBQ of legends, Bushie’s very own wallaby and pepperbush sauce, scallops, cheese and much more all washed down by copious quantities of Tasmanian wine. As light falls and tales of the Bush abound, the more colourful and fantastic by the hour, the local four-legged inhabitants come out to play.
Welcome aboard Rob Pennicott’s multi award winning eco-cruises around Bruny Island and Tasman Island, skirting the highest sea cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere as you head out to the very edge of the Great Southern Ocean, looking south to Antarctica. Join as a full day from Hobart or a half day from either island and spend three hours exporing the rugged southern coastline spotting abundant and majestic sea life including megapods of Dolphin, huge Fur Seal colonies, Albatross, Shearwaters and even Humpback, Southern Right and Killer Whales which have been returning to Tasmanian waters in vast numbers much to the delight of Rob, his crew and passengers. The boats are especially designed for eco-cruising allowing you to get up and move around, head into deep caves, and feel the adrenalin of passing at high speed between the cliffs and huge dolerite spires that tower into the sky.
Tonia Cochran is the first lady of Tasmania’s birds. She owns and operates from Inala, a 500 acre Land for Wildlife farm near Cloudy Lagoon on Bruny Island about an hour (and a short ferry ride) south of Hobart, home to all 12 of Tasmania’s endemic species of bird including six species of endangered birds - the Forty-spotted Pardelote, Wedge-tailed Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Swift Parrot, Masked Owl and white morph of the Grey Goshhawk. Inala also has 40 species of orchids and an amazing diversity of plant species and several species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Tonia’s tours, which take keen birders and wildlife enthusiasts all over Tasmanian and Australia, are an ecologically-friendly and educational experience using specialist guides She is also a wildlife carer and is invariably to be seen with a tiny marsupial rescued from its injured or dead mother’s pouch and brought to Tonia for months of her dedicated care. Invariably they grow, leave the fold but stay close to Tonia’s side and live peacefully on her property to the delight of her visitors. Elsewhere on Bruny Island, the world’s only White Wallabies can be seen in the wild and visitors can enjoy delicious local cheeses, wines, oysters and fruits and little in the way of mainstream tourists.
Where else will you see Platypus, Quoll and Tasmanian Devils in the course of a few hours and within just a few metres of your cabin? Mountain Valley, near beautiful Leven Canyon in Tasmania’s north, so hidden that almost nobody in Tasmania has heard of it, is a private nature reserve and Land for Wildlife area that has been under the stewardship of Pat and Len since the early eighties. Your arrival, after a stunning drive through Tasmania’s northern forests and valleys without another soul to be seen, will be greeted with a walk down to their river to spot Platypus playing in the brook. A climb down into Len’s cave reveals glow worms, and as dusk falls, and if the temperature drops, Pat will light your roaring log fire in your rustic, spacious cabin. As nightfall settles the animals gather in numbers outside your cabin and you just settle back and wait for your precious nocturnal visitors to put in their nightly appearance.
Drive just twenty minutes from Hobart and you can come face to face with virtually all Tasmania’s endemic mammals and reptiles at Bonorong, a wildlife sanctuary that rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured and orphaned animals. The setting is magnificent, and the care and dedication shown by the staff, led by Greg Irons, Australia’s leading young light in Australia’s wildlife conservation, is an inspiration to not only their visitors but to local Tasmanians. Thanks to Bonorong’s concerted efforts to educate islanders, children are teaching their parents about the importance of checking the pouches of dead and injured animals and calling the Bonorong Wildife SOS line to get animals to a carer as soon as possible. As a result, visitors will see a constant stream of baby Wombats,Tasmanian Pademelons, Wallabies and Echidnas most of which will hopefully enjoy a new life in the wild thanks to Bonorong. Opt for a private behind the scenes tour or a night time feeding tour to get a really fascinating insight into Tasmania’s wildlife including one of the island’s most important captive breeding enclosures for Tasmanian devils, and discover how this unique and much maligned marsupial is one of the most badly misrepresented animals in the world.
Devils@cradle, Cradle Mountain
This unique alpine conservation sanctuary breeds Tasmanian Devils along with the Eastern and Spotted-tail Quolls and gives visitors to the iconic Cradle Mountain region a remarkable insight into the lives of three of Australia's surviving carnivorous marsupials. Located in a prime location, just 500 metres from the entrance to the Cradle Mountain National Park, Devils@cradle has expanded significantly to become Tasmania's leading devil sanctuary giving visitors an amazing insight into the mysteriuos world of the Tasmanian Devil both day and night. The sanctuary is a key member of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Programme. You can wonder at leisure throughout the day, join one of the 45 minute guided Day Keeper Tours, or at night join the unique 1.5 hour After Dark Feeding Tour in a setting that is as close to the Devil's natural habitat as it is possible to get short of being in the wild. Behind the scenes dedicated staff play various roles in the conservation of the species, ranging from hand raising orphaned Devils and Quolls, undertaking infra red camera monitoring of wild Tasmanian Devils, and supporting the local Parks and Wildlife surrounding roadkill and animal welfare issues. All in all a must-do experience for anyone visiting this magical region of Tasmania and a huge added bonus to the Cradle Mountain experience for those interested in learning about the plight of the Devil, and its fight for survival.
Combine walking and wildlife in this bold initiative that has been created by two unique Tasmanian businesses, Tarkine Trails, Australia’s only true rainforest walk in the far North West of Tasmania, and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, supported by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy. The installation of motion-sensing cameras in the trees in the remote Tarkine rainforest, the last stronghold for healthy Tasmanian devils, has enabled scientists to monitor these evasive, shy carnivorous marsupials on their nocturnal hunts for food, and study their behaviour in an area that might be their last salvation. Walkers are enlisted in the project by changing films in the cameras and studying the results back at camp over a log fire and delicious dinner. Walking through this pristine, ancient rainforest with its huge silent rivers filled with giant burrowing crayfish is powerful stuff but the added dimension of knowing that you are helping save one of the world’s most threatened species from extinction is surely nothing short of life-changing.
This seven night small group tour is ideal for those with a passion for wildlife but less of a passion for spending days behind the wheel of a hire car. The expertly guided tour also means that you will travel with like-minded visitors and travel in 4WD luxury, thus able to cover vast areas of ground, some of which is remote and not so easy to navigate, in a much shorter time than you might otherwise have managed, with all tours, activities, accommodation and many meals taken care of for you. Starting in Launceston your group will head for Cradle Mountain and the UNESCO World Heritage Wilderness. Head north to Stanley and the Nut, and deep breathly as you are close to the Clean Air Testing Station which consistently monitors the cleanest air in the world. Enjoy a fantastic night watching Tasmanian devils. Head to the north east via the ‘Serengeti of Tasmania’, the Narawntapu National Park where minimal tourism infrastructure yet maximum wildlife make guiding essential for the best possibile experience. Your tour takes you to Bicheno via the magical Binalong Bay in the legendary Bay of Fires, on Tasmania’s tranquil and mild north east. That evening you will stay in a lodge that has its very own colony of Fairy Penguins. Your tour continues south via the Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay to the convict built village of Richmond and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, and south to Bruny Island, home to Australia’s only white wallabies and all of Tasmania’s 12 endemic species of birdlife.