Maria the Fourth be with you

You’d think after four visits I’d be sick to death of Maria Island. Happy to say that is far from the case as I already can’t wait to get back. I’ve said in all three previous posts about this place that is has something special about it. There’s always something new to experience and even after four trips, including multi-day excursions like this one, there’s still a few spots to be explored.

The weather couldn’t have been better for this adventure and as such we managed to fit a LOT in. Over the course of three days from Saturday to Monday we climbed Bishop and Clerk, hiked to French’s Farm, hiked to Haunted Bay, hiked back to Darlington via Mount Maria. We covered 58km over the three days and yes, the cold beer and shower afterwards was immense.

We started on Saturday morning, catching the new ferry from Triabunna at 10:30am. It’s a little more expensive than the old one but the service is fantastic. It’s nice having a larger crew to take your gear on board, even though I did enjoy making a line of people to get the bags stowed away on the previous operator’s vessel. I think they did a great job and I’ll miss that boat. The new one does have a bar though haha πŸ™‚

Maria Island in profile with the mountainous north end to the left.
It was very smooth sailing on the calm waters.
Well this is new. We were greeted at Darlington by a chap dressed in colonial era clothing, which was a nice touch.
The crystal clear waters at Darlington.

We dropped our heavy packs off at the mess hall in Darlington and headed straight for Bishop and Clerk, the first of Maria Island’s two main peak trails. The sun was shining and visibility was perfect. The summit is a little unnerving with sheer drops and potential for strong gusts of wind. Thankfully we had a lovely calm morning and even had a little furry friend to hang out with.

The glorious views from the summit of Bishop and Clerk with Freycinet on the horizon.
An unexpected friend at the very top of Bishop and Clerk.

We made our way back down to Darlington and checked out a cool ruin along the way before picking up our packs for the long hike to French’s Farm, our base for the rest of the trip. It was a beautiful evening and the two and half hour hike passed by fairly quickly as we meandered along the Western edge of the island. My second favourite spot on Maria would have to be Four Mile Creek. At this time of year the salt marshes are a gorgeous carpet of red and yellow colour, complete with kangaroos and in the golden glow of sunset it really is a beautiful spot.

The entrance-way to the convict kiln which supplied bricks for construction on the island.
Wombats, wombats everywhere.
The information boards throwing some subtle shade at Creationists πŸ™‚ That line went waaaaaaay further back in time.
A grand evening for a spot of kayaking.
Marching towards French’s Farm after coming back down from Bishop and Clerk.
It was such a nice evening as we hiked south to French’s Farm.
Love this spot at Four Mile Creek.
The colours on the salt marshes were so beautiful.
Bonus kangaroos, as if the scene wasn’t spectacular enough.

We set up camp and French’s Farm and had a delicious rehydrated dinner kindly prepared by Hannah. A cheeky glass of wine and some card games later and it was time for bed. We said goodbye to Pete and Cassie who had joined us for the first day of the trip as they returned to Darlington to catch the ferry and do a spot of fishing.

Our goal for the day was to make it to my favourite spot in all of Tasmania, Haunted Bay. The hike south is fairly arduous, particularly across the sandy isthmus which doesn’t work well with heavy hiking boots or indeed narrow bicycle tyres as I discovered on the previous visit πŸ™‚

The beautiful beach at Riedle Bay makes up for it though and it was lovely to dip our tired feet in the water on the way back to French’s Farm that afternoon. We arrived at Haunted Bay and made our way down to the coastline in beautiful sunshine to take in the breathtaking views. The Painted Cliffs are perhaps the most famous of Maria Island’s sights but even they pale in comparison to Haunted Bay. The lichen covering the rocks is so colourful and the shades of orange, yellow and green make it look like an artist has been let loose on the rocks, so perhaps this place is more deserving of the title of Painted Cliffs?

The ocean side beach at Riedle Bay.
Carpobrotus rossii or its much better common name Pig Face! πŸ™‚
Gemma jumping for joy at Haunted Bay
Hannah doing a marvelous leprechaun jump.
The fascinating structure of lichen up close.
Pretty red succulents at Haunted Bay.
How amazing is that?Β 
Crab AGM at Haunted Bay.
I freaking love this spot!

The following today we awoke to a rather chilly morning with condensation dotting our tents as we groggily arose and prepared to pack up camp. Our destination was Darlington to catch the ferry home but not before a slight detour…..up a mountain. Mount Maria was a spot I’d yet to see so I was excited to check out the view from the summit. It certainly didn’t disappoint and the climb to the top was a lot of fun. There’s a boulder field near the summit, which offers some lovely rock hopping before you return back into the woods. Emerging once more, there are even larger rocks for the last stretch to the top and its stupendous view of pretty much the whole Island and large swathes of the east coast of Tasmania.

The French’s Farm Inland track is really lovely with plenty of birds singing away in the branches above.
Huzzah! The view from the summit of Mount Maria. Such a fun climb up the last stretch of boulders. I reckon it gives the view from Mount Amos a run for its money.
Hamish, the most dedicated man on the island that day. He dragged his bike all the way to the top, I have no idea how he managed the last section as it was difficult enough without having to carry a mountain bike!
A lovely cairn near the summit of Mount Maria.
“Don’t go into the long grass!” The ladies blissfully unaware of the potential for Velociraptors.

After a lovely lunch-break on the summit of Mount Maria, it was time to head home (insert sad face). We made excellent pace back to Darlington and had enough time to catch the earlier ferry after some wombat watching and a soothing foot-bath in the harbour.

Looks like these trees are trying to spell somerthing, YILIVY? YAIVY? πŸ™‚
The idyllic beach that leads to the Painted Cliffs.
Cuteness overload! This little baby wombat was happy munching away with its mammy without a care in the world.Β 

Feel free to check out my other posts from Maria Island for more photos of the Painted Cliffs and the often tumultuous scenes at the Fossil Cliffs as well as the kangaroo filled airstrip to the north of Darlington. I love Maria Island, it’s such a wonderful place and I cannot wait to be back on its magical shores once more.


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