Old 03-20-16, 05:37 AM
In Real Life
Machka's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 51,560

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 134 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2942 Post(s)
Liked 143 Times in 90 Posts
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I really didn't know what to expect.

The websites about Maria Island don't provide much in the way of photographs and even the online cycling map isn't very detailed ( Parks & Wildlife Service - Maria Island by Bike ).

However, I did know a few things:
-- Maria is pronounced like the singer some of you might remember, Mariah Carey.

-- Maria Island has one pay campground with an amenities block near where the ferry docks, and two free campgrounds elsewhere on the island. It also has converted the old Penitentiary (we are in Tasmania here, old penitentiaries are plentiful) into accommodations which turned out to be full this weekend ... so therefore we were camping. But that was an excellent option.

-- Maria Island does not have a shop or cafe of any sort on the island, so we had to bring everything we wanted with us.

-- Maria Island has a pack out policy, so we had to carry all our rubbish off the island with us.

-- Maria Island is a National Park and requires a park pass.

-- Maria Island's most popular feature is the Painted Cliffs. Type: 'Maria Island Painted Cliffs' into Google, and you'll see what I mean. There are heaps of photos.

-- Maria Island does not allow motor vehicles. There are a few motor vehicles on the island (we saw a tractor and a couple utes) belonging to the Parks and Wildlife Service for their use, but that is it. People get around the island by walking or cycling.

So I didn't expect:
-- the size of the mountain on the north island. Somehow I had imagined the island to be flatter than that. I should have know, we are in Tasmania here! It was spectacular!

-- the views. Being as I had imagined more flatness, I didn't imagine the mountain scenery, the cliffs, the roaring waves ...

-- the wildlife. Somehow I not only imagined a relatively flat island, I also imagined one devoid of wildlife. But if you want to go somewhere in Tasmania and see wildlife, overnight on Maria Island! In the evening, our tent was surrounded by pademelons, wallabies, a wombat, possums (who attempted an exploration of my panniers in the middle of the night ... but I thwarted them), green parrots, Cape Barren geese and Tasmanian native hens. I'm pretty sure we also caught a glimpse of a Tasmanian devil in the camp kitchen. I've never seen so many different Australian animals all in one place.

-- the roads. I knew they'd be gravel, but somehow I didn't expect them to be quite so heavy going. However, the east coast of Tasmania has had a lot of rain recently, so we suspect there has been some washing away, and perhaps they aren't quite as good as usual. I imagined we would cycle the whole island with no difficulty at all on Sunday. It's about 20 km down to the south end, so a 40 km round trip. Plus maybe a side trip or two to add up to about 50 km. Even going slowish and stopping to take photos, I figured 4 hours tops.

There are two times available to go across to Maria Island on the ferry, 9 am (and I knew we weren't going to make that) and 3:30 pm (so I booked that one ... 2 adults, 2 bicycles). Passengers are, of course, walk-on only because there are no motor vehicles allowed. However, we are allowed to bring bicycles or rent bicycles. They have a fleet of black step-through bicycles available for rent ($25/day), but we opted to bring our Bike Fridays complete with new knobby tires which Rowan installed last week.
Bike Maria | Maria Island Ferry

We loaded up and made the crossing with about 15 other people on a bright, sunny and warm day. The crossing is about 30 minutes ... a little wavy (ginger is a good thing), but also scenic, as there is a good view of the island on the way over. When we arrived, we reattached our panniers etc., while some of the hikers made use of large wagons lined up at the dock to transport their things approx. half a km to the penitentiary or campground. Visitors to the island need to be reasonably fit since they do not have access to motor vehicles.

After checking in at the Visitor's Information centre located in one of the few remaining historic buildings on the island, we cycled to the campground and set up. Then we cycled up and over the hill to the Painted Cliffs. They are beautiful! As I mentioned before, Google Maria Island Painted Cliffs and you'll see. Next time we go, I would like to explore them more.

The Painted Cliffs aren't very far but the ride took us a lot longer than we thought, so we began reconsidering the idea of cycling to the far south of the island. However, the knobby tires Rowan installed onto our Bike Fridays were quite appropriate for the conditions. I just need to become a bit more confident with mountain biking skills.

When we got back, as mentioned above, our tent was surrounded by wildlife! Yes, of course I took photos!!

That night we went to sleep to the roar and crash of the waves at the nearby beach. Besides the sounds of the ocean and rustles of the wild life, it was very quiet. No traffic noise. No hum of appliances. It was also very dark in the campground because the camp kitchen and amenities block do not have lights, nor are there lights throughout the campground ... no electricity. Without the usual light pollution, the stars looked bright and huge.

We had a lazy morning, and then decided to do a hiking/cycling loop around the north end of the island instead of the southern trek. I am glad we made that decision ... I loved it up there. Mountain views, huge waves, and a certain remoteness and barrenness, I felt very comfortable and at home with.

We had a bit of time to spare before the return ferry, and the weather had set in (windy chilly drizzle), so we had lunch and then explored some of the other buildings ... the museum, and a few of the others.

And then we were homeward-bound on the ferry again.

We'd like to go back and spend longer there. I went over wondering what on earth people would do over there with more than one day, and came back realising that the number of hikes and rides a person could do might take a week. Plus it was nice to get away ... no phone, no computer, no traffic, very few people ... just nature.

I finished posting the Maria Island photos here ...


and ...


There's an amazing feel about the place ... almost like you've got this whole island to yourself. There are other people there, of course, but not many and we're all scattered around just taking it all in.
Machka is offline