Wildcare Friends of Doctors Rocks Penguins
We assist the local Ranger staff in protecting, monitoring and managing the Little Penguins at the Doctors Rocks Conservation Area just east of Wynyard in northwest Tasmania
Who we are
Friends of Doctors Rocks Penguins are all passionate supporters of the Doctors Rocks Conservation Area
Where we work
The Doctors Rocks Conservation Area is located 5km east of Wynyard alongside the eastern bound carriageway of the East Wynyard Coastal Road from the Wynyard Scuba Dive Centre to its junction with the Bass Highway and then eastwards along the highway to Woody Hill Point (opposite the Cloverlea Nursery). It is a long narrow coastal reserve approximately 7km long and features a geological feature called “Doctors Rocks” which protrudes out into Bass Strait. The coastal strip is predominantly rocky but there are a couple of small stretches of sandy beaches.
The Doctors Rocks Conservation area is home to a significant number of little penguins with large groups on the immediate west and eastern sides of Doctors Rocks itself and smaller pockets of penguins along the whole conservation reserve. The Little Penguins have no difficulty in traversing over the rocky terrain to get to their nesting areas, but significant numbers utilize the sandy beaches as access points from the water to the foreshore nesting area.
Many shore and sea birds, such as Pied Oystercatchers, Red-capped Plovers, Pacific and Sea Gulls, and of course the Little Penguins and Shearwaters are seen in the Reserve. Ringtail Possums, Bandicoots, Rabbits, Water Rats, Wallabies and Tiger Snakes also live in in the Conservation Reserve.
The small community of Doctors Rocks (approximately 20 residences) can be found at the junction of the East Wynyard
Coastal Road and Bass Highway and there are two residences within the Conservation area itself (these were established long before it was realized there were penguins in the area). A new housing subdivision is being constructed at the western end of the Doctors Rocks Conservation Area. The disused railway line runs between the coastal reserve boundary and the road/highway. Farmland predominates the southern side of Bass Highway. Doctors Rocks is well known locally as a very popular fishing spot and it is not unusual to see people fishing off the rocks and in boats during the warmer months for squid, Australian Salmon and sharks. In recent years, there has been significant interest amongst locals in gold panning within the Doctors Rocks Conservation area.
A steel mesh fence has been constructed along sections of this conservation area where significant numbers of penguins nest within metres of the East Wynyard Coastal Road and Bass Highway to prevent the penguins straying onto the road, but there are still several kilometres of the reserve that border on Bass Highway that is still to be fenced and every season there are penguins killed on the road.
The Wynyard Landcare group have made an important contribution in extending this penguin fence and arranging for the existing fence to be maintained every couple of years and extended in some sectors.
Most of the Doctors Rocks Conservation Area is classified by the Waratah Wynyard Council and the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service as a ‘No Dog’ zone. However, in recent years, the Little Penguins have extended their colony zone westwards into a “Dog Off Leash” area.
What we do
The concept of operating Little Penguin tours at Doctors Rocks started several years ago through an initiative involving Waratah Wynyard Council, the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, a local person with extensive experience with Little Penguins who had worked with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, the Wynyard Visitor Information Centre and local accommodation operators. The Doctors Rocks Conservation Area has only been in existence for a couple of years; prior to that it was listed as a ‘coastal reserve’ under the jurisdiction of the local council.
With the area now listed as a ‘Conservation Reserve’ and under the jurisdiction of the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, it was decided to amalgamate all interested parties and create a “Wildcare” group called the ‘Friends of Doctors Rocks Penguins.’
The philosphy of our group is based around working closely with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service to maintain the Conservation Area in the interests of the welfare of Little Penguins.
The objectives of this group include: offering tourists and local visitors an opportunity to see Little Penguins in their natural habitat during their breeding season (September to April), provide non intrusive viewing opportunities and interpretation talks according to established practices; observe and report on the behaviour of Little Penguins; report on any changes to the physical environment of the area due to natural weather events; engage in cleanup and general maintenance of the area; regularly maintain the penguin fence and install artificial penguin nests (sometimes called concrete ‘igloos’) and report to relevant authorities any inappropriate behaviour observed in the Conservation Area.
Keith Chung (Facilitator) – firstname.lastname@example.org