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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Maria Island

Maria Island has been on our to-do list for a while. The walks we wanted to do would have been very hard to fit in with just a day trip on the ferry, so we decided it would be an overnight camp. Two days of sunny weather in a row is hard to plan for in Tassie, but we’ve been watching the weather carefully and made a ferry booking to go over on Thursday and come back Friday.

Thursday morning started off overcast as we began our hour and a half drive from Lake Leake to Triabunna. There were occasional peeks of sun through the clouds out to the east, and we were hopeful. It was a still morning and the ferry crossing was calm. The cloud seemed to thin as the day went on, and by mid afternoon it was lovely and sunny.

We set up camp, had lunch and wandered down to the Painted Cliffs. It was quite spectacular, but we wanted to hang around until the sun was lower in the sky and there were less shadows. As we were about to settle down for a nice sit-down for an hour or two the school group who were camped on the island began wandering down the beach for an afternoon of snorkelling and footy on the sand… we decided to walk a bit further down the track to find ourselves a quieter spot for the afternoon.

A couple of hours later we decided to have a look and see if the shadows had retreated – they had a little, but there were kids all in front of the cliffs – so much for photos! We dawdled along the beach back towards Darlington and at one point turned around and noticed that there seemed to be a general movement of kids around the cliffs. Sure enough, as we stood and watched they began to pack up and walk up the beach in small groups. We were in no rush to get back so one of us sat on the beach while the other took photos (what a surprise!) waiting for kids to catch up and pass us, then we wandered back down to the cliffs.

Unfortunately, by this time a bit of cloud had developed out to the west, and so the colours on the rocks weren’t as good as earlier. At least there were less shadows and the kids had gone.

Next morning the big walk was on the agenda – Bishop and Clerk, at about 600m elevation (and we were at sea level). We started off at a moderate pace, but he soon slowed down for photos, and then she slowed even further as the gradient grew steeper. It had been decided long ago that she has a small, old diesel engine that blows a lot of smoke going up hills, but put in first gear low range will eventually get to the top. She did eventually make it all the way to the top after a scramble up over some boulders that were almost as big as her dainty frame.

The views from the top were spectacular, but would have been even better with clear blue sky and less haze. Although it was windy at times on the way up it was lovely and calm at the top. Even though we didn’t get the photos we wanted (with clear blue sky in the background) we were thankful that it was fine and that the mountain wasn’t covered in cloud as it had been the previous afternoon.

On our way back to Darlington we did the loop via the Fossil Cliffs and some of the other historical sites on the island. It has a varied history – convicts, vineyards, cement factory – and this is reflected in the various buildings and ruins that remain. Although the history is interesting we take more pleasure in enjoying God’s creation – the stunning scenery, rock pools full of shells and different types of sea weed, the colour of the sun on the landscape at various times of the day, and the Cape Barren geese, wombats, wallabies and Tasmanian native hens that roamed around the camp ground.

Just as we were leaving the sun came out and the sky was blue… but the wind also came up! Let’s just say it wasn’t a pleasant ferry trip home, but no one lost their lunch.