Huonville and Hastings Caves

The Walligans are back as a unit.

Jenni returned from her travels and joined me in Huon Valley Caravan Park. We’re due to leave in just over a weeks time and due to some serious work commitments we’ve a lot to get through before we leave.

Platypus

I was hoping Platypus would make an appearance for Jenni and thankfully he did.

The rarely seen Platypus in the wild
The rarely seen Platypus in the wild

Jenni spots the Platypus

Jenni spots the Platypus

Our Platypus made many appearances over the next few days. Every time was a gift. Many people we’ve met this week have told us this is first time they’ve seen a platypus in the wild. Gary, the guy who looks after this camp site has hundreds of pictures he has taken over his years here and he, like us, will never take it for granted.

Tasmanian Devils

Tasmanian Devils can hypnotise small birds
Tasmanian Devils can hypnotise small birds

The Huon Valley Caravan Park are part of the ecosystem for the protection of the Tasmanian Devils, now an endangered species. Since they died out on the mainland 400 years ago Tasmania is the only place in the world they exist. Unfortunately they have lost over 80% of their numbers recently to the devastating facial tumour disease. This is a cancer that has 100%  fatality rate in the Tasmanian Devils. Between 1996 and 2015, the population dwindled by 95%. To see one in the wild is now very rare. We’ve not seen one in the wild yet. We did hear their screeches in the night when we stayed in Lilydale earlier in the year but never set eyes on one. I hope someday we do.

Dinner Time
Dinner Time

The park takes in older Devils that have been rescued or are no longer part of the breeding and preservation program and look after them until they die. They have a show for the park tourists to raise money for and promote the cause. The park is also a small working farm with special breed ducks, chickens and geese. Whilst the Tasmanian Devils were promoted as the star attraction, the cute chicks and ducklings stole the show.

Gary with a week old duckling
Gary with a week old duckling

The little fella was, I must admit, particularly enchanting.

Week old duckling
Week old duckling
Day old chick
Day old chick

That was until the little chick who was in an egg shell just 12 hours ago was pulled from Gary’s pocket.

Day old Chick
Day old Chick

Jenni was quite smitten with chicky. I’m reasonably sure we’ll be driving away from the place and I’ll hear a ‘Cheep Cheep’ from Jenni’s pocket.

Although Lulu and her mum garnered a few “Awwww’s” from the crowd too.

Lulu getting her dinner

Thankfully Lulu is a bit too big to fit on a pocket.

Hastings Caves

On Sunday we took to the road to visit Hastings Caves.

Hastings Caves
Hastings Caves

Our timing was perfect, we were the only people on the tour on that session. Janelle, the tour guide, was able to be generous with her time and her knowledge.

Hastings Caves
Hastings Caves

The tour took just under an hour and the caves were quite breathtaking. We’d love to have spent a lot longer exploring.

Flowing Rock Floor
Flowing Rock Floor

The floor of the cave at this point looks like a frozen river of rocks. The water runs off the stalactites and onto the ground which is on a slight slope. Millions of years later you get this effect.

Stalactite Straws
Stalactite Straws

Stalactite straws are formed, like all Stalactites, by water dripping down and each drop leaving a molecule or two of minerals when it falls off the end. They grow 1 centimetre every 1,000 years, it has taken them about 25,000 years to look like this. They’re called Straws as they have a hole down the middle. Using a broken piece Janelle demonstrated how all of the stalactites have a hole down the middle and how all of them, and stalagmites too, have a crystalline core. She shone a torch into the core of a broken piece and we could see it glow.

All Stalactites and Stalagmites are crystal
All Stalactites and Stalagmites are crystal inside

When a stalactite meets a stalagmite it makes a column and takes hundreds of thousands of years to form.

The Rock column
The Rock column

We would never have been able to get this picture if we weren’t the only ones on the tour.

Magnificent Hastings Caves
Magnificent Hastings Caves

The caves are set in the middle of a beautiful rain forest. This is the car park at the entrance to the caves. Probably the most beautiful car park location I have ever seen. There is a contender later in this blog but I think this takes it.

Hastings Caves Car Park
Hastings Caves Car Park

This is me as we left the caves. Obviously a very happy chap.

I seriously need a haircut
I seriously need a haircut

Tasmanian Wildlife

The park we are in is also inhabited by dozens of different species of bird life.

The river is full of ducks and water hens.

Duck family
Duck family

These guys lived right alongside our tent and came to greet us every morning and every time we returned from a trip. In fact I am writing this bit at 7pm sitting having a sundowner outside the tent and they just came up to check in with us.

Hey guys, just checking you're ok!
Hey guys, just checking you’re ok!

White Faced Heron

White Faced Heron
White Faced Heron

I first saw this White Faced Heron sitting high in a tree waiting. It sat for at least 30 minutes looking around before flying off.

The Heron waits
The Heron waits

Now we see him occasionally sitting on rocks and branches along the river bank. Once or twice I have seen him fly low and fast up the river. Its a great sight. I hoped to capture it and one day I luckily had the camera with me when he did a fly by one night.

Warp factor 6 Scotty, Ay Captain.
Warp factor 6 Scotty, Ay Captain.

Black Swans

Now, where I come from Swans are white. When I arrived in Australia I was shocked to find they have black swans too.  There are parts of the Derwent river just near Hobart that have hundreds of black swans and cygnets.

This gorgeous lady came to visit us in the park one day. It could be a gorgeous fella? Not sure. I am sure he/she is gorgeous though.

Australian Black Swan
Australian Black Swan

She certainly looks good in the Park. I hope she stays.

Black Swan
Australian Black Swan

Superb Fairy Wren

One of my favourite Australian birds, the aptly named Superb Fairy Wren has made his nest on the river bank across from where we pitched our tent. He comes round to visit regularly but he never sits still for more than half a second. I have dozens of pictures of empty branches where he was just a second ago.

Superb Fairy Wren
Superb Fairy Wren

Kookaburra

We’ve seen Kookaburras often on our travels. They are one of my favourite Australian animals. This one plays up and down the river bank on many occasions sits on a branch waiting for something to eat to wander by.

Kookaburra sits and waits
Kookaburra sits and waits

Technically they are a bird of prey. Here’s a good view of it’s colouring.

Beautiful plumage the Australian Kookaburra
Beautiful plumage the Australian Kookaburra

Plovers

The park is home to maybe 50 Plovers. Plovers may be the most stupid and annoying birds on this planet. Their attitude is the equivalent of kids in the back seat of the car on a long journey just poking at and annoying each other. They are hilarious to watch. That until I was told they have a poison spar on their wings they can gouge you with on a fly by. Of course they are dangerous, they’re Australian.

Mommmmm, he's looking at me funny.
Mommmmm, he’s looking at me funny.

Tasmanian Weather

After Ireland, Tassie has the most changeable weather I’ve experienced. Over the two weeks we’ve been here we’ve ranged from bright warm sunshine to torrential rain driven by strong winds. One night the wind was so strong I didn’t sleep as  I had to get up 4 or 5 times during the night to tie back down a tent rope that had pulled free. The next day I went to the local camping store and bought 20 massive tent pegs and drove them deep into the turf to secure us down. It worked. The tent or the tarp hasn’t moved since.

Camping under a stormy sky
Camping under a stormy sky
Camping under reasonable sky
Camping under reasonable sky
Camping under a beautiful sky
Camping under a beautiful sky

After the rain it was warm, the fungi bloody loved this. We woke to a field full of these little guys.

Mushroom heaven
Mushroom heaven

I wish I knew if they were safe to eat.

Glaziers Bay

We did a bit of exploring around the surrounding district one day on a short drive to a place called called Cygnet. Cygnet wasn’t too interesting but we found a little cove called Glaziers Bay with some serious views a bit of dramatic  beauty

Glaziers Bay
Glaziers Bay
Glaziers Bay
Glaziers Bay
Glaziers Bay
Glaziers Bay
The Second Most Beautiful Car Park
The Second Most Beautiful Car Park

Huon Valley Caravan Park

I think I have to have a special mention in closing this blog to this camp site. It has been a pleasure staying in such stunning surroundings. Jenni and I have been able to work here easily, comfortably and productively every day.

Houn Valley Caravan Park
Huon Valley Caravan Park

Tonight our friendly Platypus visited us again. Jenni spotted him this time. We got just as much pleasure seeing him this time as the first time and every time.

This is a special place.

Till next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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