Take a Walk on the Wildlife Side
The days are getting longer, the weather is warming up and the Cradle Coast’s flora and fauna are bursting back into life – spring is the perfect time to explore the region. From national parks to extensive gardens, wildlife parks to farms, there are plenty of options to make the most of the change of season.
Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden
Located at 55 Breffny Rd, Romaine – less than a 15-minute drive from central Burnie – is the 11-hectare woodland garden, set in a natural amphitheatre boasting more than 20,000 rhododendrons and other plants. Award-winning and internationally recognised, the garden offers walking tracks, lakes, bridges and many other unique design features, as well as a resident platypus, echidna and diverse bird life. The garden also has a tea room which offers a welcome and restful diversion for visitors.
Now entering the early stages of flowering, the peak time to see it in all its spring glory is from mid-September to mid-November. To celebrate this special time, an official opening for the flowering season will be held on Saturday, September 8 for invited dignitaries, members and visitors. A morning tea will be held and the garden’s horticulturalist has selected some rare plants to be auctioned off.
Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden is open daily from 9am-5pm (except for Christmas Day and Good Friday) and guided tours are available by arrangement. Entry is $12 for adults and $10 concession. The tearoom is open daily January 2-May 31 from 10am-4pm. For more information call 03 6433 1805, 0400 963 493, email [email protected] or visit the website at www.emuvalleyrhodo.com.au
The Tasmanian Arboretum
Only 10km south of Devonport at 46 Old Tramway Rd, Eugenana, The Tasmanian Arboretum is a botanic garden of trees of the temperate world in a beautiful and peaceful landscape. Within the 66-hectare park you will find the world’s largest collection of Tasmanian living woody plants, southern hemisphere conifers and plants from northern hemisphere forests. The arboretum is home to platypus, which can reliably be seen most days in Founder’s Lake at any time of the day. Around 80 local bird species are present and at this time of year you can see swans on the lake with their cygnets.
During early spring the wattle and magnolia are in flower, you can see conifers with pollen cones and pears and hakea starting to come out. Also in September the Arboretum is hosting The Wildflower Trail, a photographic exhibition of Tasmanian wildflowers, displays of Australian plants and guided walks around the Tasmanian Collection for up to one hour in conjunction with the Blooming Tasmania Garden Festival. It will be held on the weekends of September 15-16 and 22-23, 10am-4pm.
Gates are open every day from 9am to sunset and the Tree Park Kiosk will reopen on October 1 for trading through the warmer months. It will be open from 11am to 4pm for coffee, tea, snacks and legendary home-made ice-cream. Admission is $5 per adult. For more information call 03 6427 2690, email [email protected] or visit the website at www.tasmanianarboretum.org.au
Two Coastal national parks beautiful to visit in spring are Narawntapu and Rocky Cape, both of which require a parks pass to enter.
Located about half an hour from Wynyard, Rocky Cape National Park may be small in scale but is big on natural attractions. Rocky Cape has dramatic geological features including twisted and contorted rocks that were formed over millions of years. The vegetation is windswept and salt-hardy, including coastal heathlands that bloom spectacularly in spring and summer and is home to several orchid species. The Xanthorrhoea plant, with its grass-like skirt and tall flower spike, is a striking presence throughout the park. The park has a variety of walks, ranging from less than 20 minutes to a full day. These take in Aboriginal rock shelters and caves, hillsides of wildflowers, birdlife, tranquil beaches, bays and rocky headlands with sweeping views of Bass Strait.
Narawntapu National Park is about a 35-minute drive from Devonport and stretches from Greens Beach on the mouth of the Tamar River to Bakers Beach in the west. It is peaceful coastal refuge with inlets, small islands, wetlands, sand dunes, lagoons and an amazing variety of plants and animals. Full-day walks take in superb coastal views, with fascinating changes in the landscape and a variety of wildflowers and rare plants. Renowned as one of the best places to view free-ranging wildlife in the state, Narawntapu boasts a rich array of easily observed animals that come out in the evening to graze on the grasslands, including Forester kangaroos, Bennetts wallabies and wombats, often with little ones in pouches or close by. Many species of birds gather in the park, including honeyeaters, rosellas, black cockatoos and robins while water birds flourish on the shores and lagoons at Springlawn. The visitor centre features interpretive displays, picnic facilities, kiosk and toilets.
Apart from sightings of native wildlife in our national parks this spring, your best chance for a close encounter is to visit a wildlife park. Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Mole Creek, less than an hour’s drive from Devonport. The sanctuary houses the world’s largest heritage population of endangered Tasmanian Devils and also has a great range of marsupials, birds and reptiles on site. Trowunna provides a haven of 65 acres of natural vegetation where you will see kangaroos, pademelons, wallabies, potoroos and wombats roaming at their leisure. Trowunna has daily interactive tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Facilities include the Devil Education and Research Centre, a gift shop, parking, toilets and picnic tables. The sanctuary is located at 1892 Mole Creek Road, Mole Creek and is open 9am-5pm daily apart from Christmas Day. Visit trowunna.com.au or call 03 6363 6162.
For a mix of native and exotic species, head to Wing’s Wildlife Park, at Gunns Plains, 23km south of Ulverstone. Time your visit for the Tasmanian devil feed at 1pm, koala presentation at 11am and 2.30pm, meerkats at 11.30am and 3pm and reptiles at 2pm. You can also feed the trout and kangaroos. Other animals you can see include wombats, wallabies, quolls, sugar-gliders, marmosets, monkeys, bison, camels and more. Guided tours, encounters, camping and backpacker accommodation, a cafe and gift shop are also available. The park is located at 137 Winduss Road, Gunns Plains and is open 10am-4pm everyday apart from Christmas Day. Visit wingswildlifepark.com.au or call 03 6429 1151.
What better way to celebrate spring than a visit to a baby animal nursery? For a fun family experience, Guide Falls Farm is less than 20 minutes from Burnie. Set on a large acreage, you can wander through the native gardens and feed the growing family of animals including Edward the emu and the pigs, rabbits, sheep, peacocks, deer and alpaca (just to name a few). Watch the ponds come alive as the giant trout fight for food. Bring a picnic and enjoy an afternoon watching the cows graze and the lambs chase each other through the paddocks. Take a walk to the stunning Guide Falls, which is only 400 metres away. Guide Falls Farm is located at 309 West Ridgley Road, West Ridgley and is open September to April, Thursday to Monday, 10am-4pm. Call 0437 296 469, email [email protected] or visit www.guidefallsfarm.com