Convict!


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Oceania » Australia » Tasmania » Maria Island
January 28th 2004
Published: January 28th 2004
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My next destination was to be the uninhabited island of Maria, just off the East Coast of Tasmania. After an overnight stop in Triabunna, eating home-baked biscuits in front of a log fire in the hostel, I took the ferry to the island. Maria once held a number of convicts, and the accomodation available on the island was a tent or the old penetentiary. The choice was easy to make. The room in the penetentiary was around 3 by 4 metres and held six bunks,although in the days of the convicts there would have been around fifty men sleeping in hammocks strung across the room. Far from the luxury of the hostels I had been staying in, the penetentiary only had a table, complete with beer bottle and candle for light, and an old wood stove - which I am impressed to say I managed to light and make the entire room too warm for the whole night. Although the island was beautiful, it was easy to see what a desolate and isolated place it could have become for the convicts. Along with the convicts from Britain, there was a lone Maori, whose gravestone lies in one corner of the island's
Localised GloominessLocalised GloominessLocalised Gloominess

Here we became slightly despondant, as the way we were headed was shrouded in clouds.
cemetary, although noticably distanced from the other graves. The most shocking thing in the cemetary was that every grave's occupant except one had died at a young age. Obviously life for the convicts was not an easy one. There was a spell where industry came to Maria, lost money, then left. Today, no one lives on the island permanently, only a ranger and the passing fleet of tourists.
Maria Island did however have a number of other non-human inhabitants though. Large numbers of wallabies, kangaroos and possums would be seen close by the penetentiary, and after dusk Wombats cound be found roaming in the darkness, built like tanks yet with surprising speed. I spent the day Ihad on Maria walking up to the Bishop and Clerk hills, which gave stunning views of the coast and cliffs on the island, although due to bad weather the visibility got worse as we climbed higher. At the summit, after climbing other slippery boulders taller than myself ( I have a feeling that we weren't meant to have attempted this walk on a rainy day...) I was faced with a wall of whiteness. Standing on a perfectly flat platform of rock around 2 square
The Painted CliffsThe Painted CliffsThe Painted Cliffs

Needed a little more sun for these to look their best...
metres, with nothing in front of me but cloud, and the roar of the wind all around made it feel like a complete void. It was a liberating although frightening experience.

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