2020 Tas Up Melaleuca Creek
People who need People
And where has the orange-bellied Parrot gone?
It is easy to understand how important family and friends are to people living busy lives in isolated places like Tasmania’s south west wilderness but what is surprising is how few other humans are needed to remain happy and content with one’s life. The quality of those bonds was sufficient to raise well balanced children and sustain marriages and friendships for life.
What a highlight it must have been for the King family, including the girls, Mary and Janet, to entertain Sir Edmund Hillary for a few days and what fun those girls must have had as they pottered up and down the creek in their dinghies exploring their environment.
Once all the Huon pines had been felled the search was on for other valuable products and using skills learned from England and the gold rush in North America Peter Willson discovered the ore needed to make tin, cassiterite and his friends leant a hand in the mining, Charles King using gold he found in the mine to make his wife Margaret’s wedding ring.
All that finished when the area was made into a National Park in 1970 and since then the main concern has been with conservation of the flora and fauna of the area.
So with everything here set up to preserve the native plants and animals why are there so few orange-bellied parrots left? The answer is because they over winter in Victoria and South Australia where they suffer as a result of loss of habitat and genetic diversity, fox and cat predation, the more frequent bushfires, competition for nest sites and disease.
Here in the Southwest National Park the staff are working on their preservation by releasing captively bred parrots back into the wild, providing supplementary food at the table you see outside the museum and providing nesting boxes from which they can monitor the numbers. Possibly the warming climate will make it unnecessary for them to migrate in the winter and may also encourage other species to make the Park their all year round home where their survival prospects are better.
We wandered back to the jetty along the boardwalk past the airstrip. The tenacious little crayfish are prolific here and their little holes with mud ‘chimneys’ proliferate all around us, literally millions of little holes all over the landscape aerating the damp peaty soil and contributing to its on-going health.
Bron came back in our dinghy with us so Ken was able to get more speed out of his two cylinder motor and we shared another evening before turning in early ready for the start of the journey to Macquarie Harbour northwards up the west coast of Tasmania the next day, our ‘Swallows and Amazons’ Adventure tucked under our belts.