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sports: Tasmania Wildlife, Wildlife in Tasmania, Tasmanian Wildlife, Flora and Fauna in Tasmania, Tasmania Ecotourism, Tasmanian Tiger, Tasmanian Devils
Wildlife in Tasmania
In this environment it’s hardly surprising that a wide variety of flora and fauna some of the most distinctive in Australia has thrived in the park. Eucalypt and temperate rain forests grow in the valleys and on the lower slopes, while higher up you’ll often encounter snowgums and, in areas of wet forest, pandani, a giant heath plant that can grow to 12m in height.
In much of the central areas of the park you’ll also pass through wide expanses of button-grass plains. Although you always feel you’re in pure wilderness when hiking anywhere in the park, these plains were created by the aborginal hunters who have lived in Tasmania for over 30,000 years. Having fled to the coast during the last ice age, they ventured back into the high central plateaus after the glaciers retreated. The fires they lit encouraged button-grass to grow on the damp, peaty soil. The plains proved ideal hunting grounds, being home to abundant colonies of wombats, wallabies and kangaroos, (many of the descendants of which can be seen in the park to this day).
Early European trappers were also attracted by the hunting. Their prey included possums, wallabies, wombats and ‘Tasmanian devils’, the latter known for their phenomenally strong jaws and hideous appearance. Despite the assault. these nocturnal carnivores have survived to the present and are still seen in the park. Sadlythe same cannot be said for the ‘Tasmanian tiger’, a striped, wolf-like animal (unique to Tasmania). This marsupial carnivore was targeted by a government bounty and eliminated by 1936.
The Overland Track
There’s a variety of hiking trails in and around the park, but all join a single artery, the Overland Track, which begins at Cradle Valley in the north and snakes southward for 77km to Lake St Clair in the south. It’s definitely the best way of seeing everything the park has to offer. The full route can be completed in as little as five days, although six to seven days allows for side-trips up adjacent peaks.
You can hike this trail in either direction, but travelling from north to south is the easier choice as there’s then an overall descent in the track. Whichever way you go, the Overland Track crosses the full gamut of highland scenery, from the moorlands, lakes and gorges around Cradle Mountain in the north, across the Pelion Plains in the centre of the park, down through the jagged spires and deep valleys of the Du Cane Range to the great Lake St Clair in the south.
The best time to visit is during the southern hemisphere’s summer, but the track gets busy December to April.
Huts mostly have around 20 bunks. Bring a sleeping mat as there are no mattresses. Camp-sites are often available nearby. A good tent is essential in case the huts are full.
“Four seasons a day” says it all. The cold temperate climate is closer to New Zealand’s than Australia’s. Blizzards and bad weather can occur at any time of year, and it’s essential to have full wet-weather gear and warm clothing.
Buses run daily to both ends of the trail during summer. Red Line, Tiger Line and Tasmanian Wilderness Transport are the major operators. In summer a regular launch service also operates between Narcissus Bay and Cynthia Bay on Lake St Clair.
Tasmap publishes a 1:100,000 scale park map that is ideal for trekkers. — with information on flora, fauna, the park’s history and trekking. It’s available at ranger stations and information centres.