The Devil's Dinner Party

Where you can dine in a log cabin while watching wild Tasmanian Devils?

Simon Mustoe

Simon Mustoe

Writer, photographer and founder of Wildiaries

An hour or so from Devonport in Tasmania's north is the secluded Leven River. It flows through a spectacular sheer-sided canyon and on through the privately owned forest sanctuary of Mountain Valley. It was here we encounter wild Tasmanian Devils and quolls.

On arrival, we acquaint ourselves with the local bird life. Yellow Wattlebirds call nearby - with a sound like a hacking cough, their pendulous yellow wattles whip back and forth as they drink nectar from flowering gums. Of all the places in Australia, Tasmania has that sense of being an 'island', with mysterious and exotic animals that could only have evolved in such isolation.

Wild Tasmanian Devil
Watching a wild Tasmanian Devil crunch through its meal. Photo, Simon Mustoe, Wildiaries.

The owner Len meets us at the 'gate', a piece of string between two posts, and leads us to our forest digs. These open-plan wooden shacks are nestled in the valley with spectacular mountain views. There's a wood fire for heating, a small kitchen and three-tier bunks. With floor to ceiling windows, each bed has a view - an essential feature for wildlife watching, as we were to find out.

Len has lived here for 30 years and entertains guests from all over the world looking to see Tasmania's endemic wildlife up close. Animals here are abundant and Tasmania has the unfortunate label 'road kill capital of the world' but there's a lack of carrion on the road to Mountain Valley. Mostly to protect the remaining devils from being run over, Len picks up the carcasses. The odd one can be found outside your room at dusk.

Our objective was to film devils and quolls, so we set up lights and a few bits of log and rocks outside the window to create a 'set' for filming against. We positioned ourselves comfortably with cameras behind the glass (so the animals couldn't detect our scent) and waited.

Before dark, the first pademelons arrived. We saw half a dozen or so manicuring the lawn outside with their front teeth. Just on dark we saw a shape appear and a huge double-chinned Spot-tailed or 'Tiger' Quoll walked into view. The pademelons didn't seem to mind despite the quoll being quite capable of making a meal from one of them. These carnivorous marsupials are a beautiful pale brown with bright white spots over their entire coat. it was quite undeterred by our presence. 

Devils are truly nocturnal so it wasn't until about 10:30 that we glimpsed one at a distance. Another half an hour and suddenly one re-appeared right on the balcony no more than a metre from where we were sitting ... amazing!

The action continued all night, so we soon dimmed the lights to a minimum and tucked up in bunks. We laughed, it was like a slumber party for wildlife film-making. Where else in the world can you lie in a bed half-asleep next to a roaring fire, sipping wine and looking directly at wild nocturnal carnivores delighting in their own dining experience? And believe me a devil's dinner party is a quite a sight and sound.

Wild is what we love to see and this place is so truly remarkable, we have returned time and time again, for ourselves and with guests from all over the world. 

Ask us about the ideal time of year to visit, with the best chance of seeing wild devils. This is an experience that will suit couples, micro-tour groups or families. Email or enquire above. 

About the Author
Simon Mustoe

Simon Mustoe

Writer, photographer and founder of Wildiaries

Simon is CEO of DeluxeLife. He is also an ardent conservationist and has been studying and observing wildlife for over 40 years. He's written a book called Wildlife in the Balance. He loves taking his worldwide travel experience to help people discover new and exciting places to visit,as well as contributing to science and conservation.

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