A young woman with short brown hair is smiling. She is holding a baby Tasmanian devil on her left arm. She is wearing large glasses circa 1990 and a black sweatshirt.

“T” is for Tasmanian Devil (and Tonia)

When I joined an online writing group last year, I had no idea what to expect. I had read horror stories from some other groups. I knew as a social person I would do well if I could connect with other positive people who were engaged in the same activity. I took a deep breath and posted an introductory note, hoping I was not making a mistake.

Tonia was the first to welcome me, to say hello and reach out with support. She does this consistently for new members. If I have questions, or need to share a moment of joy, Tonia is always there. Whenever group members are struggling, she is the voice of reason and encouragement. Tonia is honest but never malicious. Earlier this year, when I was overwhelmed by the positive response to one of my posts, Tonia sent me a note I now have taped to my screen. Writing is not about numbers; it’s about heart. The message keeps me grounded, and has helped me focus many times.

Tonia’s blog, The Vast and Inscrutable Imponderabilities of Life, is full of wit and honest observations about the wonder of life. Like many bloggers, Tonia is participating in the A to Z Challenge this month. She graciously offered me an opportunity to write a guest post. I asked for the letter “T.” My post on the Tasmanian devil appeared on her blog yesterday. If you are interested, you can read it by clicking this link. While you are there, please visit her other pages. Read her exquisitely written prose, and admire her gorgeous photography.

In the post I mention a photo from my days as an exchange student. I did not provide that photo for Tonia’s post, and of course another amazing writing friend commented on the lack of said photo. So, for Roslynn, here is the photo of me as an exchange student twenty five years ago holding a Tasmanian devil.

Tasmanian devil
Please, try to focus on the Tasmanian devil and not my gigantic glasses!
Scenic view of a field of kangaroos with hills and mountains visible in the distance.

Day 11 – Mt. Field National Park and Bonorong Wildlife Park

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Last week Tuesday, on Day 11 of my Australian Adventure, Malcolm and Rae drove us to Mt. Field National Park, Tasmania’s first national park. I visited the park during my exchange student tour of Tasmania. I loved seeing Russell Falls and the amazing swamp gum and stringybark trees.

These trees are some of the world’s tallest flowering plants. The lush ferns which grow along the accessible path to Russell Falls were brilliant emerald. The photos show the beauty better than I illustrate it with words. Kelly described our visit to the park as one of the highlights of our time in Tasmania, and I have to agree. It was wonderful to spend an hour in the woods, walking among the trees and the ferns, marveling at the falls.

There are many walking trails you can take to explore the park, but not all are accessible. Even if you only take the accessible path to Russell Falls, you can still enjoy the majesty and natural beauty. And you should put this on your list of places to visit if you travel to Tasmania.

After a quick lunch, we drove to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Bonorong is a sanctuary, not a zoo, for Tasmanian wildlife. Their aim is to heal Tasmanian animals and return them to their natural habitat. You can see devils, wombats, emus, snakes, lizards, echidnas and more. Many of the animals do not exist anywhere other than Tasmania.

Bonorong has been very active in the efforts to save the Tasmanian devil. Since the early 1990s, the devil population has severely declined due to Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease. This cancer spreads through direct contact, and when devils squabble their direct facial contact exposes them to the disease. The cancer causes lesions and tumors around the face which prevent the animals from eating. The species is now endangered and there are preservation efforts throughout Australia to protect the continued survival of the devil. You can learn more about Bonorong’s efforts to save the devil here.

On our visit last week, we saw a delightful devil (I think his name may have been Banjo?) who was enjoying trying to wrestle a snack from his keeper. Twenty five years ago, I held a baby devil when I visited a wildlife park. As a young American, I only knew the Warner Brother’s cartoon version of the Tasmanian Devil. Seeing a real devil in its natural habitat helped me realize how important the species is to the ecosystem and environment in Tasmania. It would be a shame if the population continues to dwindle.

During our drive on Tuesday, we stumbled upon a farm selling fresh “field tomatoes” from a building boasting a sign which read “Men’s Shed.” Despite the warning, Kelly and Rae went inside and bought a large box of ripe, juicy, red tomatoes. They smelled divine, and Kelly was cleaning them off for a snack before we even pulled back on the road. Dinner that night was toast topped with tomatoes and Vegemite. I could get used to fresh tomatoes in March!

**Today’s post is brought to you by Chick, a man I adopted as an extra dad many years ago. Chick, you always told me to have fun and enjoy the everyday wonder of life. Thank you for helping me continue to explore the world. I appreciate your help in making this trip happen!

Photos used with permission from Malcolm W.