Get up close with the island state’s most famous furry resident and learn more about other native animals and what is being done to protect them
Formerly the Taranna Wildlife Park, the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo is the world’s first intentional ‘unzoo’ – a project to create a model wildlife and a futuristic nature experience.
The vision of international design consultant Jon Coe, the park encouraged the Hamilton family to turn their traditional Australian wildlife park into an immersive experience.
Visitors can enjoy guided walks and can observe wild possums and birds via nesting box cameras, or hand-feed free-ranging wallabies and wild parrots.
Hundreds of trees were planted and bushland reserves provide natural habitats for pademelons and honeyeaters.
It is of course also home to the infamous Tasmanian Devil. The size of a small dog, the devil was once native to mainland Australia, but is now found in the wild only in Tasmania.
These carnivorous marsupials are dwindling in population due to Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), a fatal, transmissible cancer that was first observed in Tasmanian devils in the mid-90s.
The Unzoo’s ambition is to support the effort to save the Tasmanian Devil and is a partner in the official Tasmanian Devil Conservation Project.
Additionally, the Unzoo breeds healthy devils for future wild release on the Peninsula.
The keepers teach guests about the ongoing efforts to help save the devils at presentations and feedings throughout the day.
Location, opening hours and entry costs:
Location: 5990 Arthur Hwy, Taranna TAS 7180.
Opening hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm. This changes to 9:00am – 6:00pm in summertime.
Seven days a week apart from 25 December.
Entry costs: Adult ($36.00) and child ($20.00).
TIP: It’s suggested to allow around two hours for the sanctuary experience.
TIP: Get there at first feeding (10:00am), when the animals are hungry and more active.
There are no train services in Tasmania, so visitors rely on bus, car hire or coach.
By car: The Unzoo is around 55 miles from Hobart. The journey time takes 1 hour – 1hr. 30mins on the main highway to Port Arthur.
It’s about a 10min (5.5 miles) drive from Port Arthur.
TIP: Tasmania is Australia’s only island state and can be reached via air and sea only.
There are direct flights to Hobart and Launceston departing from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Direct flights are also available from Melbourne to Wynyard (Burnie), Devonport, King and Flinders Island.
Visitors can also travel to Tasmania from Melbourne by sea on the Spirit of Tasmania, arriving in Devonport.
Things to see:
Visit the four devil habitats – the Devil Den, inside-out You-Zoo, Farm Yard and Fern Forest – to see Tasmanian Devils up close.
The guides lead 15 wildlife presentations each day with Tasmanian devil feedings every hour or so.
All presentations (except the Devil Tracker Adventure) are included in the cost of the entry ticket.
Tasmanian devil feeding starts at 10:00am and go on throughout the day, finishing at 5:00pm or 4:30pm during May-September.
Devil Tracker Adventure
The Devil Tracker Adventure is a fully-guided four-wheel drive tour through private farmland and native bush to see first-hand how Tasmanian Devil numbers are being tracked and monitored.
The 1.5hr tour includes a visit to the Devil Tracker Station that is set on the edge of native forest. Visitors learn about the healthy Tasmanian devils living in isolation on the Tasman Peninsula.
Visitors can also view a hidden camera site in the forest to monitor devil activity and health data.
The Devil Tracker Adventure takes up to 12 guests and includes a traditional Tasmanian morning tea.
Prices: $60 (child, (not suitable for under eight years)), $110 (adult) or $280 (family ticket).
Tasmanian Devils aren’t the park’s only residents. Visitors can watch Tasmania’s only free-flight bird show.
Around the Unzoo, there are installed nesting boxes for local birds and possums.
Additionally, the Unzoo has identified nearly 100 species on its grounds. These range from Blue Wrens to Wedge-Tailed Eagles.
The park’s trail leads visitors to the Norfolk Bay Waterfront viewing platform, where you can use binoculars to spot wild water birds, such as Pelicans and Black Swans.
TIP: Visit the reception area to collect a self-guided Unzoo map and bird and plant checklist.
You can hand feed wallabies, kangaroos and pademelons as you wander over two kilometres of nature trails.
Most kangaroos live on the continent of Australia, though each species have different habitats.
While Gray kangaroos domicile in the forests of Australia and Tasmania, the Musky Rat-Kangaroo nest down on rainforest floors in northeastern Queensland.
As herbivores, they eat grasses, moss, leaves, flowers, ferns and insects.
The smallest kangaroo is the Musky Rat-Kangaroo, which is a tiny 6 to 8 inches long, while the Red Kangaroo measures 1 to 1.6m long from its head to rump.
Checking out C & J.