We had promised ourselves a cruise while we travelled the east coastline of Tas’ and it was a hard choice. However I couldn’t have been more pleased than with our choice of a cruise on the Spirit of Maria out from the little fishing port town of Triabunna barely 1 ½ – 2 hrs from Hobart and Launceston.
Triabunna is one of the cutest fishing ports along the east coast. It is not a big port but it caters well to the traveller with a popular freecamp right on the portside and the historic pub across the road is happy to provide access to another freecamp to assist the traveller. Wandering the township is also a delight and the Information Centre just across from the freecamp, right on the foreshore, will help you out with walking guides, booking facilities and in general they are the best of the first stops while you discover the town. The second best stop is the fish and chip shed also on the foreshore.
This cruise is an adventure that will take you into history. Maria Island (pronounced Mariah) has a history that touches into many adventures, from whaling and sealing to convict settlement and industry. Its history also stretches back into the evidence of pre-history with fossil sea caves and other wonderful geological wonders and it is a delight to explore. Even walking across the cliff sea-face track is an adventure to tempt the willing, along with the many tracks to be found around the island that are equally as tempting. Bike hire is also available so you can plan plenty to do during your stay.
Now fully a National Park, Maria Island offers camping as well as self-catered accommodation in the old penitentiary – there are bag limits so given that you need to bring everything you wish to use to the island, including bedding, you will need to take into account weight on the ferry. The convict settlement is open and free to wander about with the all-important National Parks Pass, and I particularly liked our visit to check out the vast convict built ovens that fed the settlement during the years of its life.
Wildlife now wanders the settlement and island, undisturbed by anything other than the Tassie Devil. Wombats are easily found, and there is one in particular who actually seeks out the visitor… and often takes exception if they take his fancy. He has become affectionately known as the Anklebiter and if he takes exception to you he will pause… rush up… have a nibble and take off… all in the cause of protecting his rights and home.
What we thoroughly enjoyed though was the cruise out to the island of seals, or that named by the French as Ile Des Phoques, an island between Freycinet National Park and Maria Island. It is a wonderful destination where you can find seals basking and arguing, breeding and feeding, as well as adventure into the beautiful sea caves of this uninhabited island. High in the cliffs you might also be fortunate to find the majestic Sea Eagle, with their beautiful white breasted plumage and regal stare as they watch you intently from their high look out. In season, the cute black baby seals can be seen easily as they clamber about in the rookery with the parents standing protectively by. It is a brilliant experience… and one not to be missed if you can find the time to organize an adventure into the wilderness places of Tasmania.
One of the best parts about the Sprit of Maria is the bountiful lunch spread the friendly crew provide… more than enough to satisfy the appetite and that the purpose built cruiser can venture deep into the sea caves given the right conditions. If not, you can instead explore the painted cliffs, and the beauty of Riedle Bay. Either trip is delightful and a definite must when you travel around Tas’.
We enjoyed our escort of dolphins across to the Island of Seals, and for the truly fortunate you may well find yourself being welcomed by the migrating whales who often will venture along the same path of the cruisers in season, giving you a unsurpassed experience of what is true wilderness at your fingertips.
Jan is a Traveller and an Author. You can find out more about her books on travel on the page dedicated to Oldies at Large, where you will also find a list of her blog postings in topic.
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