Monday, February 23, 2009


23 Feb 2009 WOMBAT REUNION – We were in Tasmania yesterday and took a tour to a wildlife sanctuary. They take in wild animals that have been found injured/abandoned. They place was very well run and had a broad assortment of critters. Clyde met and interacted with two wombats -- one baby and one adult and also a koala bear and some wallabies. Mary got to pet a baby wombat and a koala bear and got to hold a baby wallaby in her arms. We witnessed the feeding of a group of Tasmanian Devils – lots of snarling and tug of war over a wallaby leg that was thrown into the pen. We also got to get into an enclosure with several wallabies and feed them, pet them, etc. On the way there and back we drove through the countryside which was mostly devoted to farms. Surprisingly they had some fields devoted to opium poppies (for medicinal use) and some growing pyrethrum daisies (for insecticides) as well as more conventional fields of potatoes, grain, etc. It was an overcast day but still it was a quite pretty there. Rolling hills with river valleys – the hills were golden brown (think California in the summer) and the soil was a chocolate brown. The towns in the countryside reminded us of the US 20+ years ago.

Our ship docked at Burnie – a mainly industrial town on the north coast of Tasmania. The people were very friendly and we enjoyed shopping and wandering around. The town provided shuttle bus service from the dock to the heart of town. On the way, our driver jokingly pointed out the “American Embassy” – it had golden arches. Surprisingly Burnie had a Target store and was dotted with small discount stores similar to Big Lots – one was named Chicken Feed. Apparently Bernie, in the past, had two industrial plants that were big polluters (paper pulp and titanium paint additives) – think dead fish in the ocean and beaches not fit for swimming. The plants are now closed and the locals seemed very environmentally conscious. Beaches are pretty now. Our ship docked next to a huge pile of wood chips awaiting shipment to Japan. The Japanese convert the chips into paper pulp and some of it comes back to Burnie to be used by the local paper factory.

On our tour we passed through a town on the coast named “Penguin”. It was named for the large colony of small penguins that roost on the beach there. The town is dotted with penguin statues and many of the local businesses were named penguin something and had signs to match. Sadly we did not see a single live penguin – apparently they are out to sea feeding during the day.

Today we are at sea on our way to Sydney Australia. BTW Tasmania is a state of Australia and is a large island off the southeast coast about 500 miles away from the mainland.

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