In no other part of Australia will you find such a conspicuous and intact array of native animals as is found in Tasmania. The State is fortunate not to have been severely impacted by the threats posed by introduced species, and the widespread loss or degradation of habitats, as has been the case on mainland Australia. It should be noted that if the fox becomes established in Tasmania, many of our species will face as large a threat as their mainland counterparts.
Our national parks and reserves provide a wide range of secure habitats for many unique species. With over a third of Tasmania covered by parks and reserves, there is no shortage of places to see wildlife where it truly is at home - in the wild.
Some possible wildlife watching spots include:
Narawntapu National Park
Visitors have been so impressed with the profusion of easily seen mammals on the open, grassy plains of Narawntapu that is has more than once been dubbed the "Serengeti of Tasmania". Narawntapu National Park is a great place to see wombats, Forester kangaroos, Bennetts wallabies and pademelons. Tasmanian devils were once common in the park, but the spread of the Devil Facial Tumour has reduced numbers drastically. Brushtail possums and white-footed dunnarts are common, although the latter, like so many of Australia's native mammals, are small, cryptic, nocturnal and shy and thus rarely seen. As is usual with viewing wildlife in Australia, your best chances of seeing wildlife will be in the very early morning, at dusk or at night.
A bird hide at Springlawn offers an excellent opportunity to see and photograph a range of wetland birds, including seven different species of ducks, as well as herons, swans, cormorants, coots, bitterns, grebes and many other water-birds. The beaches nearby provide a contrasting habitat for a variety of coastal birds, including oystercatchers, plovers, gulls and terns. Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles and white-bellied sea eagles may also be seen.
In the dry inland eucalypt forests, at places like Point Vision, green rosellas, black cockatoos and various robins are common. Yellow wattle birds and honeyeaters may also be seen and heard. The Springlawn area has the richest concentration of birds. Here you may see a variety of robins, wrens and fantails. You may also hear the sharp call of golden whistlers.
Ronny Creek and the area around Waldheim at Cradle Mountain are good places to keep your eyes open for Bennetts wallabies, and occasionally, quolls and wombats. Brushtail possums are common. Platypuses occur in Lake Dove and Crater Lake and are best seen at dusk. A wide range of birds is found throughout the park, including the ubiquitous, and endemic, black currawong.
Listen for its call, so distinctive of the Tasmania highlands - a loud "-week-week-kar"
Lake St Clair
Around Cynthia Bay, at Lake St Clair, you are likely to meet two species of wallaby. These are the Bennetts wallaby, and the smaller, more timid endemic Tasmanian pademelon. Occasionally wombats and quolls can be seen after dark. Australia's two species of monotreme - echidnas and platypuses - can be seen around Cynthia Bay. Echidnas are most frequently seen from spring through to autumn in light bushland, often near tracks. Their presence is often indicated by freshly scratched earth.
Platypuses are harder to find. They are quite sensitive to noise, but can sometimes be seen in the lake feeding around the shoreline, particularly around dusk. There is a walking track to Platypus Bay where a purpose-built hide provides a a good place to catch a glimpse of this elusive monotreme. Be aware that often the most you will see is a small, dark shape - somewhat like a small log - on the surface of the water. Binoculars will provide a much better view.
Cynthia Bay sits on the boundary between dry and wet sclerophyll forests, two habitats that are home to a wide variety of birds. Many, such as black currawongs, strong-billed and black-headed honeyeaters, and the yellow wattlebird are found only in Tasmania.
Maria Island National Park
Maria Island National Park
is one of the best places in Tasmania for bird watching. All 12 endemic birds of Tasmania
can be seen in the park, and the diverse habitats provide for a wide range of species.
Cape Barren geese and swamp-hens have been introduced. The threatened forty spotted pardalote is found here in good numbers, along with the white gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) that is essential to its survival. The swift parrot, listed as vulnerable, breeds on Maria Island. The parrot nests in hollows of old growth trees. Nesting has been observed on Skipping Ridge and the lower western slopes of Mt Maria. The swift parrot predominantly feeds on nectar from blue gum Eucalyptus globulus flowers which is widespread on the island in grassy and shrubby dry sclerophyll forests.
Beach breeding birds, including the hooded plover, use many of the sandy beaches and dunes in the Park, particularly at Darlington Bay, Bloodstone Beach and Riedle Bay.
During the early days of the national park, a number of mammal species that were threatened elsewhere were introduced to the island in a bid to protect their kind. Alongside native pademelons, potoroos, common wombats, ringtail possums and echidnas which occurred on the island naturally, are Forester kangaroos and Bennetts wallabies, brushtail possums, Tasmanian bettongs, eastern barred bandicoots and southern brown bandicoots which have been introduced.
The north-western waters of Maria Island are a Marine Reserve. If you love to snorkel, you will love Maria Island. While there is no fishing in most of this reserve, wading, snorkelling and scuba diving offer the rewards of experiencing marine life at close quarters. Some of the fish are as readily observed as the wildlife around Darlington.
Mt Field National Park
Mt Field National Park provides a very diverse range of habitats for wildlife, and the great majority of Tasmania's native mammals occur within the park. At dusk, the flat grassed area around the Visitor Centre comes alive with the endemic Tasmanian pademelon, and barred bandicoots and eastern quolls are also occasionally seen.
The last Tasmanian tiger - the only Tasmanian mammal to have become extinct since European settlement, was trapped in the nearby Florentine Valley in 1933.
Birds have taken advantage of the range of altitudes and habitats available, and consequently many species are found within the park. This includes 11 of the 12 Tasmanian endemic species such as the Tasmanian native hen, which is often seen on the grassed areas near the Visitor Centre.
Platypuses occur in the Russell Falls Creek, the Tyenna River and many of the lakes of the upper region of Mt Field. Dusk is the best time to look for them.
Several species of amphibians and reptiles occur, including the endemic Tasmanian froglet. Skinks in the park include two endemics, the southern snow skink, only found above 1000 metres, and the Tasmanian tree skink, found in tall wet forest.
There are many other areas in Tasmania, of course, where wildlife can be seen in the wild. Many of our reserves protect vital habitat for other fascinating species.
For comprehensive information on the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians of Tasmania, see our Wildlife of Tasmania section.