The weather forecast said “storm” but luckily down here in Tasmania the weather doesn’t read the weather forecast and does its own thing. The result was that we were on our way to hide up a long inlet when we noticed that things weren’t as bad as they were meant to be. Ten minutes later the inlet had been replaced with Chinamans Bay off Maria Island. We arrived just as the rain began.
05:45 Alarm clock goes off. Quick weather check. Blue skies.
Breakfast. Get the dinghy in the water and the engine on. Dress for cycling. Get the bikes out of the boat and in to the dinghy. Cross to the island and find a landing place. Build the bikes together.
08:10 on the bikes and off exploring Maria Island.
The island is uninhabited except for two park rangers who stay in “the city” at Darlington and the first ferry arrives just before nine so, to begin with, it was just us two and the kangaroos and the wallabies and the pademelons and the geese and the penguins and two extremely relaxed wombats. We cycled between the hundreds of “locals” who were all obviously confused about how we were there so early.
We passed ruins dating from the time when the island was used as a convict island and then took the “main road” through the forest to Darlington. The dirt track was well graded, gently rolling and completely devoid of motorized vehicles so perfect for mountain bikes.
In Darlington we found the “town” that was originally built as a penal settlement and later used as an industrial town. At the information office we asked about obtaining a park pass. The lady was a little surprised as you have to show your pass to get on the ferry. Theoretically you can not reach the island without a pass. We explained that we had sneaked in the previous evening and landed at dawn unseen by any one but the local wildlife at which point she thanked us for our honesty. It didn’t help though. The lady had no passes, the phone number she gave us only has an answering machine and the website won’t process us.
We had been advised to visit the old lime hoppers and sing in them which we did and thoroughly enjoyed the amazing acoustics as our voices reverberated around us. I admit that this was not an activity we would have thought of ourselves.
Leaving the town we cycled up a steep grassy hill (Heidi cycled – Neill cycled half way and then pushed.) At the top of the hill we were rewarded with a fantastic view back across the sea we had crossed the previous day with Mount Amos on the horizon. We took pictures and then continued back in to the forest and up to the islands reservoir. Back in town we visited the museum and were amazed to find an Irish visitor sat playing the perfectly tuned piano. What a treat.
We headed back in to the bush and stopped off at an abandoned brewery / winery for our picnic. There is so much to see on this island but the clouds were already appearing to remind us that we were on borrowed time this outing and we should be getting on.
On our way back to the boat we stopped off at the painted cliffs. These are amazing and no photo can not do justice to the colors and textures of these rocks. You could almost believe that the aboriginal great father of all spirits had been painting here back in the dreamtime.
Back at the dinghy we reversed the morning activities and, before the winds arrived were packed and showered with a coffee in the cockpit. Being situative is half the secret to being lucky.