Ed Petrie

All Under The Place – 24 Oct, Tasmania, Australia

Today I stroked a Tasmanian Devil. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d find myself writing.

This occurrence came about because I’m currently in Tasmania, that island at the south east of Australia. It’s been 3 days since we were last filming, as we had 2 days off in Melbourne (if you’re ever looking for a club that’s open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, then I highly recommend Revolver on Chapel Street. I also recommend writing off the next day once you’ve been). We then spent the next day getting the short flight to Tasmania and driving to the small town of Sheffield. Passing through Tasmania in the car we all remarked on how we felt at home for the first time since arriving this side of the world. The fields are lush and green, there are rolling hills and woods, and the weather’s pretty much what you’d expect during a dodgy British spring.

Today we were up and out early from our freezing hotel rooms to film a piece about Sheffield’s many murals. The town’s economy was collapsing in the 1980s so they started encouraging local artists to paint on the side of buildings to bring tourists in and it appears to have worked a treat – we were there for a start.

After lunch we headed up into the sparsely populated wooded mountains to the Tasmanian Devils Sanctuary, not realising how much it had been snowing up there. Came as a complete shock to all of us to find ourselves driving through a mild blizzard, and when we arrived the Devils were snuffling around their enclosures in the snow. They’ve gone to number 2 in my list of favourite animals just below otters. They’re about the size of a fat Yorkshire terrier, full of personality and make up to 13 noises, one of which sounds like someone being sick. We even got to stroke a tame one called Ozzy. What was sad to learn was that in the wild they’re probably going to be extinct in the next few decades. There’s a terrible cancerous disease sweeping through the island’s population. When they’re all dead they’re hoping to repopulate with the healthy ones from sanctuaries like these.

Let’s hope the Tasmanian Devil doesn’t go the same way as the Tasmanian Tiger, a marsupial dog. The last known one died in the early 1930s after they’d been hunted to extinction. Locals still like to convince themselves that their ancestors weren’t responsible for the annihilation of an entire species, and occasionally claim to have seen one in the mountains. But our guide at the sanctuary, Wade, said they’re sadly long gone.

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