Tassie Road Trip: A Fragile Patchwork of Landscapes

Our family drive from the west coast to the east coast of Tasmania had me singing the praises of its natural wonders. Yet, I also discovered that much of it could disappear unless we humans face the music on how our lives affect the world around us.

Overlooking the Vale of Belvoir, in the foothills of Cradle Mountain.

By Dulce Zamora

On the 4th of January, we drove from the west coast to the east coast of Tasmania in one day. We started out in Strahan, worked our way up through Cradle Mountain Road, and then headed for the Bay of Fires. Our journey revealed a patchwork of landscapes. There were froth-laced shorelines, zigzag mountain roads, and large swatches of golden grasslands. There were dense, chaotically knitted forests of pine, eucalyptus, leatherwood, and myrtle beech. There were rolling pastures of grazing cows, sheep, and goats with colorfully-wrapped buttons of hay.

Waters stitched together life with majestic ocean waves, snaking rivers, deep shimmering lakes, and meandering streams. Wildflowers whimsically embellished gravel, craggy boulders, and windswept bush.

Even the quaint little towns were bedecked with gems: fern-filled rainforests, alpine lodges with stacks of fireplace logs, or murals in every corner.

If there were a song about Tasmania the Beautiful, I would sing it — from the Southern Ocean to the Indian Ocean (or the Tasman Sea). I would crisscross this quilt of wonders again and again for we really only traversed through a sliver of it.

It makes me sad though that so much of this pristine wilderness is endangered — the grasslands, numerous wildflowers, and the ptunarra brown butterfly. Even the iconic Tasmanian devil faces extinction. We did not see them, but their presence was always acknowledged by the local tour guides. Many of the devils have been afflicted with facial tumor disease. Conservationists are helping them now, which is a good thing because the devils were once killed by people who thought they threatened livestock and the animals that humans hunted for fur.

One creature that is already extinct: the Tasmanian Tiger. People hunted these shy creatures, because, again, they were believed to threaten livestock.

It makes me wonder: How are we humans treating our earthly cohabitants today? There are treasures in Tasmania, but natural wonders abound all over the world. How are our habits and fears affecting the animals and environment around us? It’s a hot topic, and can be controversial. While we hash it out, life (and death) goes on. Some say it’s the natural evolution of things. Some say we need to do better. Some say we need to take care of our own first.

I’d like to think that we can care for ourselves and be mindful of other creatures and the world around us. While it is not as easy as it sounds, we do have another natural treasure within: our brains. Perhaps we can figure out how we can be the powerful thread that keeps this wonderful patchwork of natural wonders together.

The Vale of Belvoir is the only living grass valley of its kind.

We arrived at the Bay of Fires at sunset.

©2019 WindsweptWildflower

by Dulce Zamora

17 January 2019

 

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