Within minutes of walking off the ferry a mother wombat and her baby crossed our path. It was a scramble to get a quick snap. Despite searching over the coming days we never saw another baby wombat. We did however stalk wombats with laden pouches hoping for a glimpse. What we did glimpse (with much staring at wombats nether regions - wombats pouches face backwards so they don't fill up with dirt when they dig) was a tiny little hairless foot poking out of a pouch. It was an amazing sight, almost like a glimpse of something in utero. Wombats are hard to take photos of, they are eating machines and rarely lift their heads from the grass they are nibbling.
We also saw plenty of kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons (some with babies in the pouch), cape barren geese, native hens and a lot of other birds. We glimpsed a Tasmanian Devil at dusk most evenings as she came out of her den under a building close by. Wildlife encounters are plentiful on Maria Island and is one of the things that makes it so special.
The Painted Cliffs is a short stroll and can only be accessed at low tide.
It was a bit drizzly when we arrived but luckily the sun made a brief break through the cloud cover and we saw the cliffs in all their glory.
The stormy skies were an added bonus to a beautiful landscape.
We set ourselves the task of climbing Mount Bishop and Clerk.
|the beginning of the ascent|
|Mount Bishop and Clerk in the distance|
|the last hour or so was over rock - hard and slow work|
|almost at the top|
|well done Jo, little mountain goat|
|photo time, there were views of the Tasmanian mainland and Freycinet peninsula|
A quieter day spent exploring the old buildings, learning about the convict heritage and walking to the fossil cliffs.
|a fossilised shell|
|the millers cottage|
|inside Howells cottage|
|the ruins of the religious instruction building|
|we stayed in the old penitentiary|
|once there were over 60 convicts in this room|
A 'sore butt' kind of day as we hired bikes and rode to the other end of the island. The coastal path was an easy and beautiful ride.
|we rode past four mile beach|
|Mount Maria in the distance|
We rode to the Isthmus and decided to leave the bikes behind when we hit sand. Keeping an eye out for snakes (there were some slithery marks across the sandy track) we made our way to Shoal Bay - white sand, blue water and no one to be seen!
There was a bit of resting, lunching, sun baking, digging and oyster shell skimming.
I asked Jo why his butt wasn't sore, he said it was and his knee was too 'but the joy of riding keeps me going'. I managed to find some joy in riding on the way home too - downhill and fast with the wind whipping my hair. (downhill means you don't have to pedal and you can use one leg to lift yourself slightly off the seat and relieve pressure on your butt, the wind was whipping my hair because my helmet slipped off my head and down my back - more because of the wind than my speed I think! Although I did think to myself as everything was flashing by that lucky my sister used to be a nurse and if I came a cropper she would be able to patch me up).
Maria Island is a stunning place and the wildlife is truly amazing. Thanks Carla and Jo for letting me tag along.