Maria Island

Currently Reading: Trent Dalton – Boy Swallows Universe | Alice Bishop – A Constant Hum | Victor Steffensen – Fire Country

Mum and I are into our tenth day of quarantine since she arrived home from New Zealand on the 22nd March. In the weeks before social distancing became the new normal, I spent ten days down the east coast of Tasmania, including three days on Maria Island hiking with my brother. I thought I’d share some of the pictorial highlights from these adventures for those seeking a reprieve from the onslaught of pandemic news…

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This is the ferry which takes you to Maria – it’s a 45 minute trip. They have a cafe and bar which serves the best toasties (we discovered this on the return trip after a two day diet of dehydrated food)

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Darlington Bay – clear water – lovely spot for a swim

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My little Moondance tent in the Darlington Campsite

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Steve setting up his tent

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Proud of his awesome new airbed

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Maria Island is a wombat paradise – they were literally EVERYWHERE!!!

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This little critter wasn’t even phased by my presence

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After setting up camp, we lit out for the Fossil Cliffs

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Cape Barren Geese are also in abundance on the island in nesting pairs – this one, strutting its stuff, was lacking a partner – not sure if it was happy about its single status or desperately seeking a mate…

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Whale bone bits – signs of earlier times …

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A wee little baby wombat – cuteness overload!

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Fun with signs

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Another dancing man on his floating island in the sky

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From the Fossil Cliffs with views toward Bishop and Clerk – Steve looked at the mountain on the map and said: ‘It’s just a little further around from the Fossil Cliffs, perhaps we could go part of the way and see how we feel.’ I had thought we’d have an easy day one and a bigger day two, but in light of recent events, I’m so glad we pushed on, taking in as much of the island as we could while the National Parks were still open…

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Fossil cliffs

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Details of some of the fossils

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That grassy slope looks gentle doesn’t it? It wasn’t! We powered up here, thinking that we were likely only going to walk part of the way up Bishop and Clerk…

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My internal ‘Mum’ voice prevented me from getting any closer to this edge, knowing how sheer the drop was down to the rocks below

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Steve was a little braver, but we both maintained a safe distance

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The beginning of the switch-backed scree field

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These hardy plants can find a patch of soil to grow, just about anywhere

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Hitting the boulders

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Almost at the summit

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I didn’t make it to the very top of Bishop and Clerk but Steve, who went one rock scramble further, reckons I got 99.5% of the way there

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The view from the (almost) top was phenomenal

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Look how tame that grassy slope looks from way up here… it wasn’t! Point of fact, I had more trouble walking down that hill than I had climbing up it – admittedly I was still nursing a broken toe, and Steve was suffering badly from gout, but we do love our hiking, so we sucked it up …

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Another shot of the view from (near) the top – these views make the pain totally worthwhile

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I’ve never been so relieved to be back at camp as I was after climbing these crazy mountains! Maria Island was on water restrictions, so I swam in the ocean each day in lieu of a shower … heaven!

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We watched the sunset with the wombats from the field adjacent to our campsite

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On day two, with already aching feet, we set out for Mount Maria via Hopground Beach and the Painted Cliffs

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The cliffs are best viewed at low tide as you can also explore the rock pools for abundant sea life

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The Painted Cliffs are absolutely stunning

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Sea worn pebbles line the beach

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Beautiful patterns and shapes

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The cliffs also make for a lovely place to lounge …

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… and lean

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Oceanic networks of honeycombed sandstone

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Canyonlands – Steve said we needed some lego men free-soloing for scale

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Farewelling the Painted Cliffs and commencing the ascent

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Farewell also to this hermit crab that Steve found – it was so adorable

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One of the many beautiful trees we passed on the way to the summit

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The scree to boulder field ratio from the previous day’s hike was inverted on the climb up Mt Maria. We traversed the scree quite quickly, only to find ourselves faced with massive boulders that seemed to go on forever …

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… we’d already been clambering for some time when we rounded the corner and saw this epic sea of boulders stretching out before us. Having broken both wrists (on rock) while hiking in recent years, and still limping from my more recent broken toe, my heart sank at this prospect, but Steve convinced me to try for the tree line before quitting the fight …

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I’d read that the view across the isthmus to the southern side of the island was nothing short of spectacular. By the time you reach tree-line you know you’re almost there, so having come this far I was pretty determined to get that view …

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… and the payoff was so worthwhile! You don’t get a glimpse of the isthmus until you take the last step to the summit. We sat up there at the trig marker eating lunch and taking in the view for a good 40 minutes before descending once again to sea level, the much appreciated ankle soak, and for me, a salty swim …

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The view west to mainland Tasmania

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The descent was a little easier (I sat down for most of it)

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Three points of contact (sometimes five)

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Things of stone and wood

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Bleeding tree

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Back on the flat – yes, Steve was skipping when I took this photo

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He even had the energy to stop and lay some bricks

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I had a visitor on return to camp!

We had such a fantastic couple of days! When the National Parks reopen, I seriously recommend a visit to the island. There are no shops, so you will need to take all your own food supplies, but there is an excellent camp kitchen with drinking water, a toilet block, and picnic tables scattered throughout the campground. There is also barracks style accommodation for those without tents, but for those who love camping, it is a true wilderness adventure!

Books Completed: None – hiking all the way!

3 thoughts on “Maria Island

    • Hi Wes, yes, the hiking was a little more technical than anticipated but very satisfying to reach the summit (and then descend without injury!) – it’s a place I’d always wanted to visit. Can’t wait for the parks to be open and for us to all be able to do some wilderness exploring again.

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  1. Pingback: East Coast Tasmania – Some Pictorial Highlights from the Days before Corona | Booknboot

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