There are many forests surrounding the town of Burnie from the UNESCO World Heritage area that contains Tasmania’s most famous mountain, Cradle Mountain, to the rain forests of the Tarkine wilderness. The town has a long-running logging industry and woodworkers, papermakers and print artists abound. The forests also contain rare wildlife, ranging from wedge-tailed eagles to echidnas and the fabled Tasmanian devils. The land is excellent for farming and Burnie’s agricultural products include award-winning single-malt whiskeys, hard apple cider, chocolate, trout and salmon, hormone-free milk and cheeses and beef from Cape Grim in the far northwest. It is also known for having the world’s cleanest air.
Today, I visited the home of what is said to be the largest collection of Tasmanian wildlife in the world at the family-run Wing’s Wildlife Park set among 106 acres of bush land. The park functions in part as a haven for injured or orphaned wildlife, providing a rehabilitation area to help them re-enter the wild. To get there we travelled along the Bass Highway coastal route, via the resort town of Ulverstone and through the countryside, before arriving at Gunns Plains and Wing’s Wildlife Park. We had plenty of time to explore the park, and to meet the animals and their keepers. We saw Tasmanian devils (finally!), kangaroos and their smaller relations called pademelons, emus, ostriches, wombats, echidnas, and quite a few birds, including my favourite, the pink galah, which I think is lovely but which is considered a pest. There was a reptile enclosure and I’m not fond of snakes but I had a quick visit. There were also plenty of native freshwater fish, black swans, birds of prey and native hens in the wetland area. Afterwards we returned to Burnie passing by pastoral farmlands and through the town of Ulverstone.