Saturday, July 5, 2008

Brush Tailed Possums and More

Brush tailed possums are common in Tasmania, and they sure are cute! Nocturnal marsupials, they raise one young at a time. The mother possum has the hair sort of worn off her back end from the baby rising around on her back as she moves around. Eventually the little kid moves off on its own. They also come in a rare golden color, and every local animal sanctuary seems to have a golden possum.

One night in Tasmania our guide, Craig, from Pepperbush Adventures (aka Sassafras Dundee, as he was dubbed) took us to his cabin in the woods near Scottsdale, Tasmania. We were lucky enough to have a gourmet meal he cooked using local bush ingredients, such as sassafras leaves, pepperbush leaves, and other local ingredients like Tasmanian cheeses, salmon and wallaby. After dinner, the scraps were set out for the night animals, on the lawn. Craig was a great guide - very in touch with local wildlife, the environment, and very conservation minded. His family is from Tasmania for generations, and he loves everything about the place as near as I could tell.

First on the scene after darkness fell were a mom and baby possum, pictured here enjoying strawberries. (The mom is the darker color). Several possums came out, and one even walked right up and checked out my hiking boot. We also got to see spotted quolls. Their eyes would shine in the flashlight beams as they bounced around, which was very fun to watch. We saw pademelon, Bennett's wallabys, a wombat, and a banded bandicoot too. It was a great night and by far the best meal of the trip.

Dinner began with local Tasmanian fruits and cheeses, then "swamp rats," which were liked herbed pancakes with sun dried tomato, blue brie cheese, and pepper honey. We had mushrooms stuffed with parmesan cheese, and amazingly good red peppers roasted with mayonaise and tuna inside. Then wallaby, and trout, and venison meatballs. Cookies (aka biscuits down under) for dessert.

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