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Published: March 8th 2015
The PenitentiaryThursday 5th March 2015
Brett & Jan stayed in one of the "rooms" here
Having an alarm wake you up before 0600 is not the best thing anytime but especially when you are on holidays. Today we were visiting Maria Island and the ferry left Triabunna, about 1.5 hours away, at 0900.
A quick breakfast, pack, and we were off. Rags was reluctant to drive anywhere near the speed limit of 100kph, the roadside being littered with the carcasses of pademelons, which are small wallabies, hit by other vehicles. We were driving our host’s BMW and would hate to return it damaged!
First stop was Swansea, 58kms from Coles Bay, to stop at the bakery to buy lunch, as there are no shops on the island. We also bought a fig loaf as we did on the way to Coles Bay, this we would share with Brett and Jan as we all enjoyed the last one.
The trip across the bay in the catamaran ferry was fairly smooth even though there was a strong wind. It was so windy they didn't take the bikes we had booked; they would have been washed by the sea at least if not washed overboard. Judy wasn't unhappy about
Judy holding a whale bone. In the background are the silos and factory where cement was made and stored.
this as she didn't fancy trying to ride in the 30 knot wind. Luckily we had following seas (pushing us along) and with a bit of luck we hoped they would have abated by this afternoon for our return.
As per the brochure: “ Maria Island National Park, with its World Heritage listed convict probation station, sweeping bays, rugged cliffs and mountains, and abundant wildlife, is a special place with something for everyone.”
Darlington is the main settlement on the island, with its restored buildings which include the Rangers station, the Penitentiary, Mess hall, Coffee Palace Museum, Principal’s house, and several others now converted to toilets or small museums.
Jan and Brett were staying overnight, they had booked a room in the Penitentiary. This was a room converted from a cell, with 3 sets of double bunks, a table, bench, and luckily for them, a wood heater. In the Mess Hall there are basic cooking facilities and electric lights. We were invited to join them but like them we had no sleeping gear with us and certainly weren’t prepared for what could be a very cold night.
In the 1920s there was a cement works on
The whitecaps in the background show how windy it was.
the island and the limestone was obtained from the spectacular sea cliffs containing fossilized shells. These cliffs are now one of the features of a walking circuit and the first of our walks for the day. It was interesting to fossick amongst the limestone and to see all the shells both loose and still set in the cliff walls.
There was still a very strong wind blowing, luckily coming from behind us as we walked but still very cold. We were pleased we had brought plenty of clothing layers! It was only when we turned off the track into the centre of the island that we were in the lee of the wind and the temperature was comfortable. In fact, when the sun came out, we were warm and started shedding some of our layers. It was hard to imagine what it would have been like for the convicts in the early days during the winter without the protection of modern windproof clothing.
Lunch was had on the veranda of the Penitentiary and here we were out of the wind. When we were all warm and fed we set off to see the Painted Cliffs, this circuit was
The Fossil Cliffs
The quarry was mined for making cement.
only 4.3kms long. These cliffs are best seen several hours before high tide so that you are able to get around the headland. They consisted of layers of limestone with patterns in it caused by water containing iron oxides percolating through it. Interesting, but similar to, and not as spectacular as what we have seen in Kalbarri, Western Australia.
By 1630 we were on the ferry back to the mainland having been seen off by Jan and Brett who are staying on until tomorrow. We look forward to hearing how they spent the night in the cold when we catch up with them tomorrow.
The wind seemed to have dropped a little when we left with the boat cutting through the short swell quite comfortably. Even so, it was good to have our feet back on solid ground about 40 minutes later.
The trip back to Margate was uneventful, Rags a little wary when the low fuel light went on, as he didn't know the car well enough to know how far he could go until empty. It did cross his mind on the freeway and going across the river at Hobart that this would not be
These fossils were everywhere in the quarry.
a good time to run out. As it was, we reached Margate and refueled whilst Judy bought a pizza at the local café.
“Home” was as we left it except for the leaves now on the side verandah. Rags was glad he'd put the umbrella from the deck away before we left as it may have been blown away in the wind. The last 2 days’ events were discussed over pizza and wine. Great way to end a day. Friday 6th March 2015
We agreed that today was to be a rest day so we had a leisurely breakfast after which we tidied up our gear, doing a few household chores (think Judy is sold on the rechargeable vacuum cleaners and will look for one for herself) and generally fiddled around. Judy also did some online work and Rags swept leaves and watered the garden. It was still fairly windy, a few light showers falling but generally pleasant.
Shopping was on the agenda so a trip to the nearby suburb of Kingston had us with a few days’ supply of food and refreshments. On our return we had lunch and spent the
The bay was in the lee of the land as the flat ocean attests.
afternoon on our laptops and sorting out photos. As Judy was feeling a little nauseous we thought an easy day was in order. She spent some time in the afternoon cooking up a chili beans and vegie dish for the evening.
Jan and Brett arrived at just after 1900 and we caught up with their adventures on Maria Island. They didn’t have a particularly tough time as they were able to get hot water etc from the Mess Hall and they had a fire going in the room. This did mean Brett had to relight at about 0500 but that was all.
We cooked up some rice to go with the chili beans and enjoyed sharing a meal with our friends that finished with some cornetto icecreams we'd bought at the supermarket.
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