2009: Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania

Pirates Bay

Visibility didn’t clear until well over the Bass Straight and the first landmark I could be sure of was Great Lake in central Tasmania. Our descent into Hobart started and the broad River Derwent came into view. Soon the city itself sheltering under Mount Wellington and we were down.

From the airport the Lufra Hotel at Eaglehawk Neck was only an hour away but in that short drive more corpses strewed the road than I’ve ever experienced. What the fuck did Tasmanians do for leisure? Mow down wild creatures? Was there nothing else on the island? Was it their Grand Theft Auto?

I didn’t need to be a seer to read the entrails splattered across the tarmac. Tasmania was not going to be good. Indeed the next day on the Forestier and Tasman Peninsulas would be the visit’s acme. A stupendous view over Pirates Bay, a room upgrade and a fine pint of Cascade – the southern of the island’s two beers – also managed to finish Friday on a redeeming note.

Saturday furnished the world life list with seven new species and number 1,026 flapped aboard as soon as I awoke with forest ravens outside the hotel. I’d probably already seen them on the drive in without realising they were so easy to identify: they are the only corvids on the island. They’re almost endemic with only an outlying strip of their distribution across the Bass Straight and a subspecies around New England.

Tasmania has enough endemics that I could probably have birded anywhere that morning. The environs of the hotel should have done the job. A coastal path led past fringing eucalypts to the Tessellated Pavement but the trees were quiet and only kelp gulls made their entrance to the trip list. I extended the walk and did uncover one lifer, albeit a species that I could have logged back in Goolwa, South Australia.

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