Unfortunately, I did not manage to get a place on board of the morning ferries between Triabunna and Maria Island. This allowed me to have some rest, check the bike, update this fantastic blog (^^) and learn more about the history of the island. It includes Aboriginal history, whaling and sealing posts, and penal settlement (most of the island’s buildings were in fact barracks for prisoners). The island was even for a time a rural utopia for an italian entrepreneur. Now it is a car-free national park. Besides its rich history, the island offers a wide variety of wildlife (wallabies, forrester kangaroos, wombat, cape garren gooses, tasmanian devils, …) and a rich geology.
I boarded in the 1:00 PM ferry. To my great surprise, I was one of the passengers who had the less luggage! Yes, when Australians go camping, they take half of their home with them! During the traverse, we were lucky to see dolphins cruising along the ship!
Once arrived on the Island, I had a quick look at the old convict buildings and left most of my luggage in the community hall in order to do the ascension of “Bishop and Clerk” in fast & light mode.
Bishop & Clerk is a 620 metres high dolerite peak that can be climbed in 5 hours return. To save some time I did a big part of the climb with my (partially) unloaded bike. Thanks to the intensive training of these last days and the much smaller weight, I managed to bike really steep sections that I would never have imagined to be able to just one month ago! After a stop at the fossil cliffs (not that impressive), the climb continued in a pristine eucalypt forest.
It was then time to leave the bike to continue the hike on a path that became more and more steep and uneven. At the end, it was really a scrambling, with some easy climbing moves on quite exposed terrain. Finally I reached the top and could enjoy yet another amazing view!
Thanks to the bike, the downhill was very quick and funny. Back at the departure, I quickly took all my stuff, because I still had to bike 12 km through the Island to reach the Encampment Cove campground. This ride was memorable: it was like doing a safari on two wheels. I saw lots of wildlife, beautiful old eucalypt forest, and felt like alone on a magic island unveiling to me all its treasures (the colors, the landscapes, the smells of sea, eucalyptus and pine trees). Well, not all of them, because I did not see any devil! The Island hosts however a growing healthy population of Tasmanian devils. The isolation that once allowed to lock convicts on the island is now used to avoid contamination of the local devils population. Devils are facing extinction because they are affected by a very deadly and contagious cancerous tumour called DFTD (Devil Facial Tumour Disease).
On my way I had a stop to the beautiful “Painted Cliffs”, a colourful sandstone cliff.
After setting camp, I went for a night hike in search for the devil. I still did not see him, but could admire a fantastic starry sky and had the surprise to find an hungry wombat eating grass just near my tent. Wombats are my favourite animal here so far, they are little furry balls on their short legs but are very fearful and most often run away at a surprisingly high speed.
Tomorrow morning, I will have to wake up early and be fast to pack my stuff because I have to bike the 12km back to the jetty in order to take the 10:00 am ferry back to Triabunna.