I’ve been to Maria Island twice now. Once in December 2016, following the first time about two decades ago.
My memories of the first time are very scattered, yet after arriving on Maria for the second time I wondered why it’d taken me so long to return.
Getting off the ferry and walking into what could be described as town - Darlington - is nice, but it took an hour or so before I started to relax and get into the “vibe” of the walk.
We didn’t really want to stick around in Darlington, so headed straight towards the next closest “official” campsite of Frenchs Farm. It’s about 11km or so south, and is easily accessed via a road.
It’s not a track, it’s a road. Parks vehicles can - and do - drive up and down it. One passed us when we were about 3/4ths of the way there.
The day was warm, and I had big plans for the trip - I wanted to get up both Mount Maria, and Bishop and Clerk. Unfortunately, due to the weather turning bad I didn’t get up either.
The first night was spent at Frenchs Farm, and was a lovely evening. After a nice little meal, we went for a wander over some of the old paddocks that historically would have been used for farming.
The farm animals and/or crops have gone - replaced by fields of wombats. You couldn’t throw a stick without hitting one.
They ambled about unworried. You’d look in one direction and count 10. Look in another direction, count another 10. Wombats, wombats everywhere.
When it got dark, we went to bed but woke to a noise best described as someone sawing wood. The noise made as the teeth of a saw are pulled and pushed through a log.
Wondering what on earth it was, I opened the tent and shined the torch which revealed a large wombat gleefully rubbing its butt up and down on a sharp stick. It looked happy. Satisfied, it wandered away munching on grass as it went.
Is that rain? Dammit. A peak outside the tent revealed that the island was misty, cloud covered the peaks and it didn’t seem like it’d be getting better anytime soon.
Nonetheless, we set off at around 10am for a quick walk over to Point Lesueur via Encampment Cove.
I wanted to see the campsite (I like seeing what things look like), and it wasn’t long before we wandered through. It was wet, but not too bad. It’s used heavily by people who come in via private boat - and I’m told the Frenchs Farm site is far quieter.
Wasn’t long before we got to Point Lesueur, checked out the weather station and walked back.
We passed a large (guided?) group all wearing the same style jacket. It was red.
Rest of the day spent at Frenchs Farm, watching it rain, and trying to take photos of wombats.
We were originally going to stay another night, but the weather hadn’t improved much. So instead we walked back to Darlington, changed our ferry booking and went home.
I really want to go back to Maria Island soon. A few things I’ll do differently:
- Take a bike. The roads are (mostly) well graded and easy to ride on, and a bike would increase speed between major areas allowing me to see more things, more quickly.
- Get a good weather window!
That’s all. It’s a fantastic place, and there’s so much more to do there.