Mid Winter on Maria. Just you, endless starry skies and the wisdom of wombats!
With a couple of friends from tropical North Queensland and ebikes in tow we headed over to Maria Island for a mid week three day getaway.
With our motley collection of boxes, bags and bicycles checked in ala Jetstar we boarded the midday ferry from Triabunna. The trip across the Mercury Passage only takes 30 minutes, on a bejeweled, gold ex-MONA catamaran no less! Thankfully trolleys were available on arrival at Darlington Bay to transport our gear from the jetty up to our bunk room in the Penitentiary.
After dropping off our supplies and sorting out who was sleeping where, we jumped on our eMTB’s and headed toward Painted Cliffs
The first thing you notice about Maria Island? Wombats! Wisdoms of wombats roaming free, grazing in the daylight sun seemingly unperturbed by the presence of humans. If you’re like me and you love native Australian animals it’s a dream to be up close and personal with our furry critters. Wombats breed over Winter. It was exciting to catch glimpses of joeys sneaking a peak at the world outside their mother’s backward facing pouch.
There’s no end of things to explore on Maria. The short ride to Painted Cliffs was repeatedly interrupted by ruins, cottages, clifftop views and of course native animals.
Late in the afternoon the sun broke through the cloud cover. The Painted Cliffs glowed in the golden light. Not a bad first afternoon for our group on Maria.
Night skies are spectacular on Maria Island! With clear skies and the moon yet to rise I headed out for a little astro photography. The glow of the Milky Way cancelling out the spooky vibe of the nearby hospital ruins.
After breakfast on day 2 we jumped on our ebikes and rode up along the stunning sea cliffs to the start of the Bishop & Clerk hike. The hike to the summit is one of Tasmania’s Great Short Walks, with the reward of stunning 360 views. The adventure was topped off with a a high speed roll back down to Darlington village on our bikes.
The sunset that night was incredible! We spent the last couple of hours of the day chasing the light, followed by an evening astro photography session at the old barn – right beside the ruins of penal colony cemetery. CREEPY!
After a yummy pancake breakfast on our last morning we headed out on the final adventure of the trip. We cycled to French’s Farm on our ebikes, before continuing on to the isthmus that connects the north and south island. After a couple of hours exploring the side by side beaches of Shoal and Riedle Bay it was time to head back to Darlington Harbour for the ferry home.
I’m already looking forward to returning to Maria again!
Our eBikes were perfect for making the most of our time at Maria. By running them at low assist we were able to make the batteries last the three days without recharge.
Staying on the island for a couple of nights makes for such a richer experience vs day tripping. Waking up on the island with the many other critters makes for a great start to each day. We were able to enjoy the early and late light, as well as explore ruins at night.
The penitentiary accommodation is great value and adds a lot of comfort and convenience to your stay especially in Winter. Every bunk room has its own wood heater, and wood is supplied. There is no power in the bunk rooms but there a few powerpoints in the mess hall. The mess hall has several hotplates and small number of cooking pans, so bring your own.
For more information about Maria Island visit https://encountermaria.com.au/