Burnie was a surprise to all of us. We did not know quite what to expect of this little town on the north coast of Tasmania. Indeed we had no idea what to expect of Tasmania at all. We pulled into a tidy little port with ship load after ship load of timber and wood chips! The area's number one industry is timber, mostly for paper-making and for shipping to Japan and Korea. And obviously that means forests. But this was only the beginning of our new discoveries.


Burnie was first settled in 1827, and was known as Emu Bay. Its name was changed to honor a director of the Van Diemen"s Land Company director, George Burnie, in 1840. This "company town" first tried raising sheep, but the grass quality is non-nutritious. So the sheep business literally died out. Then came lumber and shipping. Today, tourism is just beginning to make a contribution to the economy. The village is bright and clean - home to some 20,000 residents. But it has yet to develop a charm of its own.


The country around Burnie is nothing short of spectacular. A lot of it is dedicated to the raising of dairy cattle. Burnie is famous for its own cheese industry. But a lot of its is also wild and quite beautiful and lush. Tasmania has snakes, some of them poisonous, so hikers must beware. But the climate is fairly constant and pleasant, never getting either too cold or too hot.


A new distilling industry has started up in Burnie, making a Tasmanian whiskey. This was so new, however, the local restaurant and bar did not have any of the local product to try. Tasmania, on the other hand, has been brewing beer for some time - indeed, lays claim to the first brewery in Australia!

The beauty of the land is, however, the best source of intoxication here.


We visited a wildlife preservation park (Wing's Wildlife Park) for an up-close look at the native inhabitants of Tasmania. Here, Diane has a chance to greet a wombat "up close and personal." Do not miss our Wildlife pages for Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand! Diane even got wrapped up in a python!


We also visited Gunns Plains Cave not far from the farm. We have seen many caves over the years, but this one was quite interesting. The shot at left is of a "Wedding Cake" - a familiar feature for many spelunkers. Also, these caves had "glow-worms": in the pitch dark, these tiny entities (a mosquito-like fly in the larvae stage) produce a luminous excretion which serves to attract insects that inadvertently find their ways into the caves. The insects are trapped in a sort of web and then become food for the "glow worms."

Something new for us, however, were several curtain formations such as the one at left. Rather than the usual daggers from above (stalactites) or pointed  cones (stalagmites) which are formed by drips from the top accumulating over time, these are formed by drips from cracks that appear to build sheets of minerals into curtains - and they are even translucent. They were very lovely.

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