Monday, June 23, 2008

The Flora and Fauna of Tasmania

I said that to my small group last night and my husband said, "The who and the what?" Flora means the plants of an area or region, and fauna means the animals of an area or region. As in, the flora and fauna of Mississippi include kudzu and possums.

Spending two months in one place, more or less, gave me the awesome opportunity to see the wildlife as well as the plant life in Tasmania. Of course, on the car trip from Launceston to Sheffield I expected to see kangaroos hopping all over the place. Uh, yeah. They don't do that. Well, I'm sure they could, given the right circumstances. But as I looked out my window I wondered if I would get to see the animals made so famous by the Land Down Under. It wouldn't take me long before I was introduced to some of them.

One morning not long after I arrived in Sheffield I awoke to a cacophony of noise very close to Heather's home. I found Heather and asked her what in the world that was, and she informed me that it was a
kookaburra, and they did that most every morning. As much as I tried, I never got a good picture of a kookaburra. I either was too far away or didn't have my camera. One day I was visiting someone and suddenly a plump bird plopped down in the tree just outside the glass door of the living room. It was the elusive kookaburra, and I hadn't brought my camera for some unknown reason. The nice lady I was visiting offered to take a picture with her camera and send me the photo, but I never received it. Oh, well, that's what the 'net is for. Make sure you listen to the sound it makes, too.

On to pictures I do have. I called this post the "Flora" yada, yada, yada, but I really only have one picture of actual "flora." But it's a good one. The flora, not the picture. This is a Wattle Tree. It is widespread in Australia and one type of Wattle is the floral emblem of Australia.

Now to the "fauna." One of the major highlights of the summer was the trip to Trowunna Wildlife Park at Mole Creek. They pride themselves on Tasmanian Devil conservation, even more now than when I was there. There is a contagious cancer the Devils are contracting and it is killing thousands of Devils. It hurts my heart to think these little unique creatures may go the way of the Tasmanian Tiger.

Okay, off that depressing thought. I know what you're thinking. Or at least what you did think when I mentioned Tasmanian Devils. This is what you thought...

Go ahead, admit it. It's okay. Not many people know what a real Tasmanian Devil looks like, much less sounds like. And believe me, you don't forget what it really sounds like when you hear it.

It's amazing to think that such an awful sound can come from such a cute animal. Okay, maybe not so cute, but still. It is considered the "cleanup crew" of the Tasmanian bush. It eats roadkill, and how. I watched it eat every bit of pieces of meat...fur, bones, everything. I hope you're not eating as you're reading this. But they really are very needed animals in Tasmania.

Okay, on to "cuter" animals. These little dudes that Stephanie and I are holding are wombats. They are so cute, but I had never even heard of wombats before my trip.

We then moved on to the Kangaroo area. These are Gray Kangaroos, and some even had little joeys peeping out from their pouches. Too, too cute.

Here are some wallabies. These were not at the wildlife park, but this was a good spot to put them in. Notice the brown mud on my knees. That's because I fell halfway down the hill trying to feed the wallabies at Cradle Mountain. never ends.

Do you see how close that wallaby is to my face? He was seriously wanting my carrot sticks, and he was scaring me! He kept getting closer and closer until I had to throw the whole bag away to get him off of me.

Okay, back to the wildlife park. This is the one I had been waiting for. My entire life. No, really! Now, koalas are no longer living in Tasmania, having been hunted to extinction on the island in the 19th century, so this is one non-Tasmanian-native. If you look closely you can see the baby attached to the momma koala. I was about to die from the cuteness.

I don't even know how to introduce this next picture. My face is lit up with so much joy, I'm sure my face hurt after this day was over. I had always, always wanted to hold a real, live, koala. I got my wish.

I've had people ask me if this is a real koala. Uh, yes. Why would I hold a fake one? Oh, wait, I do later on. But that's another post.

If I had to choose one picture to capture my summer, this would be it. Pretty fitting, if I do say so myself.


Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does Taz look like a possum with hair? I try not to get too close to the ones in my backyard.

I love the picture of you and your koala. Did you name it?

HeathahLee said...

Yeah, those possums can be MEAN! *shivers*
I think this koala's name was Mary but I didn't name her. I did get one for my birthday that I did name...I'll post about that later. :)

Kat said...

Now Heathahlee, you go telling everybody all we have here is Kudzu and possums, nobody will ever come see us. You think they even know what Kudzu is? :)

Kimba said...

Those are great pictures! I really love the one of you with the koala. You look so thrilled.

And I never realized that a wallaby was so big. I kind of pictured them being the size of a hampster.

What fantastic memories you must have of this experience.