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Cycling Maria Island

Maria Island

Katherine and I decided we should take the bikes to Maria Island... Off we went that day, with the car and the bikes on the new bike-rack, to Triabunna on the East Coast of Tasmania.

We left the car at the Triabunna campground and took our loaded bikes onto the ferry. At this point we got the pronunciation right: MOW-RAI-AH Island. Once on Maria Island we first found the welcoming Parks and Wildlife Office (see picture below!) with all the brochures and info we needed, including a place to pay your park fees. We have an annual pass and did not need to part with additional funds here.

It seemed best for us to cycle out to the Southern end of the Island, and have a look at Encampment Cove and Frenchs Farm where camping was permitted. The sandy track wasn't too difficult as it followed the coast for 11km.

On arrival at Frenchs Farm we decided that this was a good spot to stay. There were roos in the surrounding paddock, tank water from the roof, an old shearing shed, and the old farm which was open for us to use. Ben the summer ranger showed up on his bikie and invited us on an expedition to find the foundations of an old house.

We left our gear in the old shearing shed (picture above), and rode off to Chinaman Bay and Encampment Cove (Shoal Bay on map below) to check out the camping facilities and meet Ben for the adventure.

Frenchs Farm was nicer in our opinion, even though no open fires were allowed there it looked better as it was not frequented by boats and fishermen!

Ben was ready to go and we cycled up and over the hill towards the Cell Ruins. We had no trouble locating the foundations of the old Bernacci house.

At the end of our trip I drove over to Ben's parental home, which was the relocated house which used to stand on the foundations we found, and doctored the below photo to imagine what it must have been like 80 years ago.

Back at Frenchs Farm at night we cooked up our regular fare on the MSR shellite stove and visited with the wombat, the roos and wallabies, and other many birds. We were hanging out for a cup of tea, and instead I had a weak instant coffee :(

Day Two started with a 10km ride to the Mount Maria walking track for our biggest climb of this trip. Might as well get it over and done with. On top we had a geocache to visit ( and despite the guidelines of not leaving food hidden in the caches, we found 5 great tea bags ranging from Earl Grey to Camomile tea!

Coming home that night we were in for a surprise. I was ready to take photos of the wombats that night, but this was not to be. The French family had moved in! As they were the original farm dwellers before it became a national park the rangers drive them in with all their gear. There we found them, kids and all!

We could not believe what we saw. Here we were, happy with our newly acquired teabags, and there we find a family with cast iron pots and eskies full of fresh food! No animals showed that night...

The next morning we cycled out across the Isthmus to the Southern tip of Maria Island, Haunted Bay. We found lots of Fairy penguin nests and a few little babies in nests there as high up as 120m. How the penguins scramble that high beats me! We lunched there before plunging down the rough track back to the beaches and to our home base.

Back at camp close to 5pm the French family was still out, snorkelling with their wetsuits and all. Two german girl hikers showed up to get some water from the tank just as the family arrived home. Mr. French insisted he would cook us hamburgers. And so the german girls, Katherine and I all had 2 hamburgers each. Fresh meat, lettuce, beetroot, real bread,....

The wombat attempted a visit, to drink out of the creek, but was quickly chased away by the invaders. Only one inquisitive roo was baffled by the activity on the farm and watched us in awe!

Packing up the last morning was great entertainment for the French family who were impressed with the mountain bikes and our equipment. The actual disappearance act was the most interesting bit when all our stuff disappeared into the bike panniers!

We made our way back to Darlington, set up the tent in the popular tent site there near the old convict accommodations, and headed off to scale Bishop and Clerk. There were many others doing the same, only we had our bikes to push up the first 3kms. just so that we could race down the hill on the way home. The climb was not too difficult and the views were spectacular. On the way back we rode past the air strip and the old cemetery.

The Senior Ranger had a slide show of Macquarie Island at 830pm, so that was to be our entertainment for the night. We were also invited to Ben's residence to partake in some fresh crayfish with some of his friends. This sure was a gourmet trip! At 2am we were awoken by a possum trying to get into our food, also looking for gourmet...

The final day was spent around Darlington, and we joined the Summer Ranger (Ben again) on a walk to the old reservoir before catching the 430pm ferry home.

The ferry was 15 minutes on its way when the captain asked if anyone was in a serious hurry to get to the other side as two late passengers had shown up. The ferry turned around and picked them up!

Steak and beer with fellow passengers in the pub (see below) was welcome nutrition after living of powdered milk and noodle surprise (yeah I know we had cray and burgers as well...).

That's all folks....


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