News Satire People Food Other

A Meander Around Maria Island

By Daniel Resnik on February 24, 2015 in Other

Photo: Daniel Resnik

Photo: Daniel Resnik

When you call your travel business ‘The Great Walks of Australia’, you’d better be pretty confident that the walks are, indeed, great. After all, you’re made to walk approximately 15 kilometres a day for four days, carrying your own pack, and you pay for the privilege.

There are eight sanctioned Great Walks of Australia and the walk we embarked on recently was the Maria Island Walk, one of four Great Walks in Tasmania. A couple of months back, Vogue Living voted it the number one activity to do in Australia this summer, and that’s saying something.
The trip started on a grey, drizzly Hobart morning at the company offices where we met our fellow hikers and guides. There were six of us – five ladies and myself (I’m making a habit of these ratios).

They gave us wet weather gear and comfortable backpacks, which when filled with our personal belongings weighed about nine kilograms. A fair degree of fitness is required, but age is definitely no barrier. After a quick preview of what to expect in the coming days, we jumped on a minibus and an hour later we were at Triabunna Harbour for the 25-minute boat ride to Maria Island.

The island is uninhabited – assuming you don’t count the wallabies, wombats, penguins, echidnas, possums, quolls, birds and 80 newly introduced Tasmanian Devils that all call the island home.

After a beach landing we begin our first 30-minute walk, which took us along the deserted sands to the camp. The camp is eco-friendly, with six pod-like tents that can house two people each. Set in the bush, it has a main dining area with a communal table on which large candles are prominently displayed, and this was where we took down lunch.

After lunch there was a choice of relaxing at camp or taking on a four-hour, 12-kilometre bush trek to Haunted Bay to hopefully see little penguins as well as glorious Maria Island views.

We all took the Haunted Bay option. Wildlife was scarce, apart from one unsociable Tasmanian Devil, but it was all made worthwhile by the crashing waves and the views from rocks covered in orange-and-yellow lichen.

Near the water we discovered quite a few penguin burrows that were occupied by young chicks hungrily awaiting the return of their fish-hunting parents.
Many kilometres later we returned to camp to gorge on Tasmania’s fine wines and exotic cheeses. It was a good opportunity to bond and bide our time before the arrival of our dinner of scallop and asparagus risotto followed by a summer berry pudding with thickened cream.

The next day was the only time we walked with our full backpack for the entire day, a good seven hours over beaches and through classic Australian bush. Unlike the previous day, the wildlife was out in force. Wallabies, preening geese, kangaroos and wombats were a feature of the day. Maria Island wombats are a lot lighter in colour than your average wombat, and I’m yet to meet a cuter animal.

Although the morning started off grey and drizzly it gradually improved and by the time we left our footprints on the fifth beach the sun was peeking through.

The colour of the water when the sun shone was as aquamarine and clear as I’ve ever seen. Three of us hikers and the two guides couldn’t help but brave the chill for a late afternoon swim. It was numbingly cold but incredibly invigorating.

Our second camp was much the same set-up as the first, with ‘pod’ tents. Here we indulged in a dinner of exquisitely marinated quail, duck and kangaroo sausages and local lamb chops with a side of cous cous salad. We also found room for flourless chocolate cake and cream.

Day three of the trip consisted of a three-hour coastal bush trek to our final destination, the once-thriving town of Darlington. A stunning grey sky contrasted against the emerald green of the ocean as wombats and wallabies freely grazed alongside the track as we walked past.

We stopped along the way at some of the coves and inlets, including one area known as the ‘painted rocks’, where the sandstone looks like waves of caramel and vanilla gelato.

Not long after this we entered the quaint and historical town of Darlington, where our final night’s accommodation was a ‘real’ house (a heritage listed island relic) with electricity, showers and beds – delightful.

After lunch at the house there was the option to rest, do short walks or take on an elevated mountain trek that offersed sensational island views. Needless to say it was worth every second of the three hours it took to complete.

After a soothing hot shower, the fire was stoked and wine served. An array of Tasmanian cheeses appeared yet again as six weary but exhilarated walkers relived the three days over celebratory wine and another beautiful three-course candlelit meal served by our knowledgeable guides Ned and Claire.

On the final morning there was a choice of several short walks along the wild Tasmanian coastline, before lunch was served and we readies ourselves to board our boat back to mainland Tassie, tired but with a sense of incredible achievement.

The Maria Island Walk is a multi-award winner – now I know why.

How to book:
How to get there:
The Travel Café Bondi
(02) 9130 1345
Accommodation in Hobart:
Travel Lodge Hobart
(03) 6220 7110