Maria Island

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Maria Island

Postby SergeantMcFly » Wed 03 Aug, 2016 5:19 pm

Where to start? While certainly not the most hardcore or "wild" place I've done in Tassie, Maria Island still makes me happy each visit. This is a summarization of the past few trips I've taken there over the past month. My first visit there was a 2 nighter, mainly just to explore and relax for a weekend. It didn't disappoint as the weather was perfect and plenty of friendly wildlife all around (the local wombats are the best). The coastal green plains they have here around the Ouse House and way up to the Bishop & Clerk are really a nice change of scenery and seem more appropriate in Ireland or western regions of France. The first day (arrived on 16:30 ferry) was used to set up camp and explore the Painted and Fossil Cliffs, both of which are easy strolls around the Darlington area. Communal cooking area was in great shape and clean, with a nice fire going in the fireplace. Clear weather overnight displayed a crystal clear galaxy above, a view I've never been able to compare anything outside of Tasmania too.

Starting early the next morning and with no set plans for the day, had a quick breakfast and started walking down to Encampment Cove. Along the track (very easy walking and used by the ranger's vehicles) the abundant wildlife became more impressive as two wedge-tailed eagles flew around, wombats everywhere (lost count after 50+) and plenty of Cape Barren geese. The walk itself was quite nice through the woods and eventually opened up to French's Farm which provided a good place for lunch. Sitting in the old house and farmstead while eating was a great way to enjoy the short rain showers overhead.

Around 13:30 we left French's Farm and started towards Encampment Cove. Taking our time, we managed to see a Devil running along the trail by the small river and it got to about 100m away before realizing we were there (resulting in him darting into the bush). Encampment Cove had a few campsites flooded and was vacant. After signing in the logbook about our sighting, we began making our way back to Darlington.

Again, the walk back was a nice pace and we decided to take the Ouse House trail as a change of pace. The Forester 'roos were plenty out here. Arriving back in Darlington a little before sundown, it was nice to see the sun set over the Fossil Cliffs area. No devils this night and the sky was a bit cloudy as well.

The next morning, another early rise to pack up camp before heading up to do Bishop & Clerk. The weather couldn't have been better with a slight chill breeze and not a cloud in the sky. The view into Coles Bay/Freycinet was amazing. After lunch at the top, we made our way back to Darlington to relax some more before the afternoon ferry brought us back to the mainland. Again, not a crazy adventure but a throughly enjoyable one.

The following week, I found myself back on Maria for an overnighter, this time intention of summiting Mt Maria and Bishop & Clerk again (brought a new friend). Arriving on the morning ferry this trip, we immediately headed off for Mt Maria to make the most of the day. Admittedly, this was not really a highlight as the walk itself is kind of plain. The view from the top was great as again, we really lucked out with the weather, but the walk didn't particularly stand out to me. For this trip, we stayed i the penitentiary and as it was a Sunday-Monday trip, we were among only 4 people on the island which was quite nice. This night would again provide amazing views of the milky way.

As the last B&C climb, nothing much changed and we made it back to the morning ferry as we had Uni in the afternoon.

For the final Maria entry, a good friend was leaving Tassie and wanted to go back so yet another overnight. This one didn't have any hikes as we've done them before but just wanted a quick weekend away. Again doing a Sun/Mon trip, the island was virtually ours for a second time.

Overall, I can't recommend Maria enough. From family activities to a more relaxed hiking/camping trip, it just works. I still need to get down and explore the farthest portions of the southern side of the island too. Maybe next time!

Pics can be found at http://imgur.com/gallery/5lVrF
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Re: Maria Island

Postby cams » Fri 12 Aug, 2016 9:56 am

Thanks for the report. I've felt that I needed to take bikes across, but it sounds like you can have a great time wondering around too.
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Re: Maria Island

Postby stepbystep » Fri 12 Aug, 2016 11:01 am

I much prefer Mt Maria to B&C. The start is boring but as soon as you turn off the 4WD track after ~3/4 an hour I love it. Mixed and really interesting forest and then the massive Calitris Pine forest surrounding the Scree followed by the dracophylla just below the summit are really unique and beautiful, the views of course are stunning too, and unlike B&C you just might get it all to yourself...I really enjoyed exploring around Encampment Cove and the ride there too. A stunning place...
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Re: Maria Island

Postby north-north-west » Tue 16 Aug, 2016 1:33 pm

stepbystep wrote:I much prefer Mt Maria to B&C. The start is boring but as soon as you turn off the 4WD track after ~3/4 an hour I love it. Mixed and really interesting forest and then the massive Calitris Pine forest surrounding the Scree followed by the dracophylla just below the summit are really unique and beautiful, the views of course are stunning too, and unlike B&C you just might get it all to yourself...

it's possible to do both as a loop - the connection from Mt maria to B&C isn't too bad, apart from a bit of cutting grass in the saddle. Kind of fun.

But yeah, never seen anyone else up there or even on the track.
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Re: Maria Island

Postby Son of a Beach » Tue 16 Aug, 2016 2:18 pm

Good to know. Last time I was over there, I was thinking it would make a good loop, but didn't get the opportunity to try it out. Since then others have told me that it's "near impossible" to walk between the two. I guess it's all a matter of what you're used to. :-)
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Re: Maria Island

Postby SergeantMcFly » Tue 16 Aug, 2016 2:38 pm

If I was to do it again (I'm sure I'll be back at some point, time permitting) I'd consider doing the loop for sure as a bit of variety. Have any of you done bush bashing over to Cape Peron or to Mistaken Cape? Was wondering how difficult or dense it'd actually be, or worth it to get over that way?
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Re: Maria Island

Postby stepbystep » Tue 16 Aug, 2016 3:00 pm

Son of a Beach wrote:Good to know. Last time I was over there, I was thinking it would make a good loop, but didn't get the opportunity to try it out. Since then others have told me that it's "near impossible" to walk between the two. I guess it's all a matter of what you're used to. :-)


It's worth noting most people descend to the scree and sidling as opposed to staying on the scrubby ridge.
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Re: Maria Island

Postby Pink Cap » Thu 11 Feb, 2021 8:46 am

Can I have some suggestions for a 3 - 4 day walk on the island please, prefer a big loop to several day walks. Thanks! I like beaches, views, forest, everything really.
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Re: Maria Island

Postby Bilbo » Sun 21 Feb, 2021 6:24 pm

Pink Cap wrote:Can I have some suggestions for a 3 - 4 day walk on the island please, prefer a big loop to several day walks. Thanks! I like beaches, views, forest, everything really.


I too, would like a suggestion for 4 days to see as much as possible. Thinking of going mid April after Easter.

I was thinking of doing Darlington, Mt Maria then on to camp at Encampment Cove in a day.
Is this too ambitous for average fitness walkers with a pack??
Could I stash my pack in the bush as I head up Mt Maria??

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Re: Maria Island

Postby north-north-west » Sun 21 Feb, 2021 8:33 pm

Just get a map and cover all the tracks on the island with a few extra bits.
You can follow the entire coast from Encampment around Point Lesueur and all the way north to Darlington, though some of the cliffs need to be bypassed inland. The island being relatively small, that can be done as a circuit from either end by using the inland track for the return leg.
Haunted Bay is a must do. It's a pit that Calders Blowhole and the rookery to the east are no longer easily accessible although the birds are probably happier undisturbed.
Bishop and Clerk and then the cliffs, and circle right around Cape Boulanger to the jetty.
When the tide is low enough you can easily get around Elephant Bight to Red Bull Rocks.

Darlington-Mt Maria-Encampment is doable if you get the early ferry. Yes, just leave the pack at the track junction for the summit, then continue on the inland track. Be careful south of there as there are a couple of steeper bits that can be slippery if it's wet (and the ground is frequently wet 'cause it's forest). If you're running out of time, French's is a slightly shorter walk. Used to be common to go direct from Ned Ryans to French's but you need to know the terrain well to do that these days.
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Re: Maria Island

Postby Bilbo » Mon 22 Feb, 2021 5:33 am

Thanks for that information. It's handy to know you can follow the coast fairly closely.
The inland track looks to add a bit of variety too.
And Haunted Bay was on my list too. Didn't know about the Blowhole.

Could you ride a mtb bike to Haunted Bay?? Just a thought.
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Re: Maria Island

Postby north-north-west » Mon 22 Feb, 2021 6:52 am

The last part of the track is very steep. You'd be carrying the bike back up, assuming you both survive the descent. And the sand on the isthmus track is quite soft and loose in places, so that would be hard work (ditto beach access so that wouldn't make it any easier). Don't even know if the bikes are allowed that far south; never seen one beyond French's.

Didn't know about the Blowhole.

Most people don't. Used to be a good pad down there but it's been closed for a long time, principally because of the nearby rookery.
Very few people go off-track on Maria apart from the beaches and maybe a little around the ruins. There are some good routes that can be done but the vast majority of visitors are touristas rather than serious walkers so it seldom happens.
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Re: Maria Island

Postby Pink Cap » Sun 25 Apr, 2021 4:17 pm

Here’s what I did with my 3 days on the island. First day I walked up Bishop and Clerk from Darlington via reservoir and returning via airstrip and Fossil Rocks. Second day I walked with my pack to Frenchs Farm, dumped my pack and continued to Haunted Bay then returned to Frenchs Farm (along the beaches from the isthmus onward) to camp - alone, I couldn’t believe it - then third day I walked the inland track back to Darlington via the Oasthouse. I would have climbed Mt Maria but there was no point that day as you couldn’t even see it for the cloud/rain. I found this an enjoyable trip and the abundance of wildlife was a real bonus.
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