Night Time Animal Spotting & Devil Feeding | By Kate Butler
When you stay at Cradle Mountain Hotel, be sure to join the animal spotting tour one night. Our bus picked us up from our accommodation one cold, dark, wet evening and began its short journey over to Devils@Cradle, the Tasmanian devil sanctuary. On the way, our driver shone his huge spotlight out of his window, searching high and low for signs of life. I didn’t have high hopes, as the rain pelted the bus and the windows began to fog up. But after just a couple of minutes, I felt like I was on safari; animal eyes sparkled in the torch light from every direction; there were tiny wallabies poking through the grass and bouncing along and wombats contently nibbling away. Though wild, they seemed completely undeterred by the bus creeping past. By the time we reached the sanctuary, I had already lost count of how many we had seen.
We hopped out of the bus to join the after dark feeding tour. After a brief chat about the devils, the keeper lead us back out into the cold and onto a viewing platform high above two enclosures. The first thing to hit me, other than the freezing air, was the haunting cries echoing around the park. Never had I heard such sounds – no wonder they’re named devils. They were hungry and excitedly cantering in circles. The keeper threw them a gruesome concoction of wallaby and possum parts, which they scrabbled over like wild dogs. It was strangely mesmerising. We also got a glimpse of something I’d never seen before, the quoll. I learnt an unbelievable amount about the little critters and the sanctuary is doing an incredible job in conserving what are now becoming rare breeds.
Once all the animals had full bellies, it was back onto the bus to continue spotting for a while longer. Our driver, a retired dairy farmer, had a wealth of knowledge and such a passion for the wildlife. He also had an impressively keen eye for the animals (I mistook nearly every rock for a wombat). He dropped us back outside the hotel in time for our own feed, in the aptly named Quoll’s restaurant, for an enjoyable buffet feast.