Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Maria Island

Wombats, wildlife, old buildings and beautiful scenery is just the beginning on Maria Island.

Day 1

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.

Day 2

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
My knees were not too happy with the rocky descent.

Day 3

A quieter day spent exploring the old buildings, learning about the convict heritage and walking to the fossil cliffs.

a fossilised shell

the silos
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

Day 4

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.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

3 Capes

Spectacular coastline, well maintained tracks, impressive cabins, varied weather and new friends - that about sums up the 3 Capes.

Day 1

We were transported by boat from Port Arthur to Denmans Cove, exploring coves and ancient cliffs, sighting a sea eagle and dolphins on the way.

Once deposited at Denmans Cove we stopped a while to eat some lunch and enjoy the scenery. Colin went for a swim of course.

We were lucky enough to have blue skies for the start of our trek.

A short 4km later (mostly uphill) we arrived at Surveyors cabin

Day 2

Forests, heathlands and moorlands. Spring time meant lots of wildflowers too.

A climb up to Arthurs Peak and a view across Crescent Bay to Cape Raoul

A side track to a camping ground. (all that way down and now a long way up to return to the main track), alas, no creek or swimming hole for Colin, so disappointing

But it was kind of nice lying there watching the trees sway in the breeze, and 10 minutes later clouds racing by

Finally the end and what a view from Munro cabin

Day 3

Forecast - strong wind warning, gusts over 65km, possible hail and snow down to 600 metres.

Epic views and plunging cliffs (and yippee you get to leave your packs at Munro for a whole 16km, collecting them later in the day before continuing on to Retakunna cabin)

I almost got blown off this path on the return journey
Tasman Island at the end of The Blade, Cape Pillar
A stormy, moody coastline today, but still staggeringly beautiful
We were not sure we would be able to climb The Blade, luckily there was a lull between fronts, the wind dropped and we climbed to the top. Cape Pillar.

Yep, we climbed to the top of that 
a view from the top (that's Steve)
A front coming through. We ate our lunch here just as it started to hail

Day 4

A whole lots of steps

But first a walk through leafy greens and moss and up to the top of Mount Fortescue

Morning Tea time

Out to Cape Huay, the way ahead


The way behind

The view on the way

A view from the end of Cape Huay

Backtrack and down to Fortescue Bay and that is the end.

And of course Colin had a swim in the frigid water. (I was too busy finding the toilet to capture the moment)

It was a fantastic four days, made all the more enjoyable by the company. Ironically we ended up spending a lot of time with two couples, one from Torquay and the other from Ballarat who have a holiday house at Point Lonsdale! (Thanks Steve and Michelle, Tim and Serrin for letting us gate crash) The coastline, sheer cliffs and varied terrain were amazing. We saw plenty of birds and lizards, a wallaby, an echidna and a tiger snake. We experienced blue skies and sun, wind, rain and hail. We had sore and tired bodies, were revived by miso soup and wine at the end of the day (wine, thanks to our new found friends who were prepared to carry goon and willing to share). The wind howled one night, there was a warm bush shower one night, the long drop was a cold walk every night.

The 3 Capes is a fantastic first foray into multi day hiking. It was an incredible, memorable experience.