Saturday, 4 October 2008

Narawntapu Marsupials

.....Wildlife watching at its easiest

The Narawntapu National park (Formerly Asbestos Range National Park) is located on the north coast between Port Sorrel and the Tamar. The park was declared in 1976. Some have referred to it as the "Serengeti of Tasmania". A bit of an exaggeration? Well maybe, but the area is certainly host to a great variety of wildlife, much of which can be seen at close quarters. There are 20 species of mammal in the park. Of these there are four marsupials which are very easy to find. They are:

  • Macropus giganteus tasmaniensis - Forester Kangaroo
  • Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus - Bennetts Wallaby
  • Thylogale billardierii - Tasmanian Pademelon
  • Vombatus ursinus tasmaniensis - Common Wombat

The Forester Kangaroo (Tasmanian subspecies of the Eastern Grey) was reintroduced to the area in 1975. While I often see these around the Springlawn area, they are more timid than the other macropods as can be seen from my photo.

(Click on Photo to Enlarge)

Macropus giganteus tasmaniensis - Forester Kangaroos - keeping their distance

Bennets Wallaby (also known as the Red-Necked Wallaby) is the most approachable. The ones around the picnic area will often come begging for food. Please don't oblige them as processed foods can cause health problems for them such as "Lumpy Jaw".

Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus - Bennetts Wallaby

The Tasmanian Pademelon, (now extinct on the mainland) is also easy to see. Take the short walk from the picnic area to the bird hide and you will see many of them in the undergrowth. They are not always easy to photograph as they are often in the shadows. In fact I've taken better shots of them in my own backyard at night than I have done in the park in broad daylight.

Thylogale billardierii - Tasmanian Pademelon (Second Photo from last August)

The other easily found marsupial is the Common Wombat. These are also found grazing during the day and if you move slowly, some will allow you to get incredibly close. I was impressed last year when I counted 19 wombats across the Springlawn area. However, the author of "Where to Watch Wildlife in Tasmania" talks of seeing 93 wombats from a good vantage point overlooking the area.

Vombatus ursinus tasmaniensis - Wombats (third photo is from last August)

The Springlawn area was once agricultural land. You can see this from the aerial view below. In some of the photos above the grass looks like it has been mown but the area is in fact a giant marsupial lawn, grazed on day and night. There is a lot of competition for food here which is why many of these normally nocturnal animals are found feeding during the day. The wallabies also feed on the leaves of plants such as the Coast Wattle. On one occasion I saw a Pademelon about 1.5 m up a tree feeding. The trunk of the tree was inclined at about 45 degrees which would have made it a little easier to climb. Apparently this is not unusual at this site.

View Larger Map

Arial View of Springlawn Area


  1. I like the term 'Serengeti of Tasmania' And that low angle shot of the grazing wombats has a bit of a 'vast herds on the savannah' look about it!

    Ninety-three wombats? Ninety-three! The whole area must be honeycombed with burrows. Wow!

  2. That sounds like a great place. Its really great when the wild-life is sufficiently secure to let you get up close.

  3. Thanks Snail - yes burrows everywhere. In fact I was watching one wombat going in and out it's burrow yesterday and didn't even think to get a photo of it.

    Thanks Mick - Yes it a great spot. I need to stay back after dusk some time and look for devils.

  4. Fine set of shots!

    Narawntapu as a word looks oddly multilingual. Do you know its origins?

    And you're probably aware one of the foremost wombat guys gained his insights by crawling through burrows. Got your infrared gear handy?

  5. Thanks Tony - Narawntapu (nah-rown-tah-poo) was originally the Tasmanian aboriginal name for the area at the East end of the park (West Head to Badgers Head). Asside from being a place name, I'm not aware of any meaning in the word.

    Oh... and I don't think I would fit in a wombat burrow :-)

  6. Loved this post Alan. Marsupials were one thing we didn't do too well with on our trip over. Just Eastern Grey Kangeroo and I think Red-necked Pademelon at O'Reillys. Would have loved to see a Wombat and specially a Tassie Devil. Hope you can post something on them sometime.

  7. Great report Mosura. Seems like a wonderful place to see the indigenous species. They all look in good condition. The chances are over here, that if you get close to a Wombat it'll look pretty 'scungy'. Solid boys aren't they?

  8. What a treat to be able to see wombats out and about during the day.

  9. A great post as usual, Mosura!
    Fantastic photos of the Wombat and the Wallaby. It must have been an exciting day for you :)