The Hunter Valley, NSW

Tassie devils are back on the mainland for the first time in 3000 years

By The Weekender Travel

October 7, 2020 | 3 minute read

It’s the feel-good news we all desperately need in 2020. 

For the first time in over 3000 years, Tasmanian devils are living in the wild on mainland Australia and it’s all thanks to another adorable Aussie - Chris Hemsworth. 

* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.

Hemsworth and his wife Elsa Pataky were part of a team who last month captured, transported and released 11 Tasmanian devils into the New South Wales wilderness. The animals were set free in the Barrington Tops wildlife reserve in the Hunter region, joining another 15 devils released earlier this year. 

With only 25,000 devils left in the wild, conservation experts hope this project will help save the endangered animal. Tasmania’s population plummeted after a deadly facial tumour disease spread through the state, wiping out an estimated 90 per cent of the species. All NSW bound devils have been fully vetted to ensure they are disease-free. 

The world’s largest carnivorous marsupial is believed to have disappeared from mainland Australia over 3000 years ago due to the threat of dingoes. Fortunately, they were able to thrive in Tasmania where dingoes had not been introduced. 

The conservation group behind this project said, ‘without Aussie Ark the Tasmanian devil stands to disappear, forever.’

If the project is successful and the animals breed, 40 more Tasmanian devils will be released on the mainland over the next two years, building up the population and potentially rescuing them from the endangered species list. 

Introducing the predators will also help with ecological balance and regeneration of the national park, by managing possum and wallaby possums and culling feral cats and foxes. 

If you don’t want to try your luck at spotting the reclusive animal in the wild, here is where you can see these Aussie icons in captivity.

The little devils can be found in all the big zoos across Australia but if you want the best experience, go straight to the source - Tasmania. Tassie has a number of parks and wildlife sanctuaries dedicated to protecting their treasured namesake where you can get up close to the native animals while also contributing to their survival. 

Devils @ Cradle in Cradle Mountain National Park is a conservation and breeding facility where you can take a day or night tour, watch a feeding and see what the devils get up to. 

The Tasmanian Devil Unzoo is the future of zoos - there are no cages around these animals. Here you can come face to face with devils in the forest and learn about the unzoo’s efforts to save them. 

Trowunna is a wildlife sanctuary where you can meet and greet a Tasmanian devil, just be careful of your fingers if you go in for a pat, those teeth are sharp! 

East Coast Natureworld is a gorgeous place to visit the devils, set amongst 150 acres of natural parkland and lagoons. Be sure to watch a feeding session, they get wild.

You can also see devils at Bonorong, a sanctuary that is home to Tasmania’s first wildlife hospital.

At Wings Wildlife Park you can snuggle a devil (if you dare) or meet one of their cute and cuddly babies.