Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Meeting some of the Tasmanian wildlife

Shoal Bay
The scenery is spectacular but the wildlife is pretty amazing, too. We spent a couple of nights at anchor in Shoal Bay, on the west side of Maria Island and did some great walking. The whole island is a National Park so the natural woodlands and grasslands have been preserved, though they bear the marks of penal colonies, commercial farming and even cement-production activities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Haunted Cove. The rocks are a deep orange, caused by a covering of lichen
A hike to the beautiful Haunted Cove at the very southern end of the island introduced us to some Black Cockatoos, a large (and venomous) brown snake, some Bennett's Wallabies, an ant-eating Echidna and, later on, we ventured to the other side of the bay to meet our favourites so far, the Wombats.

The rubbery nose of an Echidna

These shy animals curl into a spiky ball when they sense danger so we had to wait silently and patiently for it to peek out

A Bennett's Wallaby watches us watching him. You can see why Joseph Banks, the naturalist on Cook's ship Endeavour, struggled to find a description for kangaroos and wallabies when he first saw them and, for a while, thought they were some kind of giant, mutant mouse!
Bennett's Wallabies are the most common species on Maria Island - they have black feet and forepaws

A larger wallaby, and friend
Not a sheep! Our first view of a wild Wombat, grazing the open grassland
Back-lit Wombat

Graham was within about 3 metres of it without being noticed

No tail and a rounded rear end (important attributes as you'll read below)

Some Wombat facts (courtesy of Wikipedia) for you:

  • They grow to up to 1m long and weigh up to 40kg
  • They have a very slow metabolism so take up to 14 days to digest their grass and plants food
  • They dig burrows with their sharp protruding teeth and paws
  • Their only predators are Tasmanian Devils and Dingos
  • Whilst they move slowly, they can accelerate quickly to 40kph and maintain that speed for up to 90 seconds.
  • When startled they have been known to run straight at humans and bowl them over before giving them a deep bite or two. Didn't know that until after we'd been stalking them with the camera!
  • If chased by a predator they run to into the nearest burrow and block the entrance with their rumps. Their lack of tail and their very tough rumps come into play as they donkey kick with their back legs or else drop down to allow the predator to climb over their back then squash its skull against the roof of the burrow.
  • Their poo is cuboid
  • They are protected in all Australian states apart from part of Victoria but they were once hunted, with a government bounty paid for each kill.
Feel free to casually drop any of these facts into conversation!

So, apart from seeing the elusive nocturnal Tasmanian Devil, we were very happy with our wildlife on the island, and then had some very different mammals to accompany us on the sail further south.

Of course, all this good stuff has to be tempered by some bad stuff and so we spent a couple of hours investigating why the engine cooling water flow-rate seemed a bit slower than normal. 

The water pump impeller (replaced only 8 months ago) had lost six of its nine vanes. The challenge was to find them in the cooling system, a process which involved some disassembly of pipework.
We are glad to report all is well now and we found a super anchorage further down the Tasman Peninsula.

Canoe Cove in Fortescue Bay, tucked behind a wrecked ship for perfect shelter

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