Saturday 30 November 2019

Maria Island Walk, Day Four - All good, then goodbye

With thanks to Maria Island Walk for this famil
The day began with a bit of wildlife-watching which, on Maria (Mar-I-a!) Island, just means stepping outside the door. I found a scattering of super-cute little pademelons in the garden, including one saluting the sun. Some of them had even cuter little joeys with them. Then came breakfast, which was a very impressive egg en cocotte, and yummy sourdough toast - well done, Sharna. 
Today we were let off the leash, to explore by ourselves, with recommendations. The main one was Fossil Cliff so I ambled off in the sunshine back up to Skippy Ridge to admire the view again - and note, with only moderate bitterness, that Bishop and Clerk, and everywhere else, was clear as a bell today - and then carried on down towards the point.
The cliffs were indeed full of fossils, mostly shells, from the Jurassic period, so I gave them their due and then walked on along this very pleasant circuit. There was a good sprinkling of kangaroos on the airstrip, making a particularly Australian type of hazard to landing. They and the wombats keep the grass amazingly short - there's talk that there's a need to do some culling, for the greater good, which is a shame.
I admired a scattering of picturesque buildings from Bernacchi's era: he tried all sorts of things, from silk to wine to cement, and managed to live very comfortably without being a great success at any of them. It was surprising to find a headstone in the fenced graveyard inscribed in Maori: news to me, four Maori were transported here from New Zealand in 1846 for rebelling against the British colonists. Three of them were later pardoned and sent home, but Hohepa Te Umuroa had by then died of TB. His body was returned to Whanganui in 1989.
The four big cement silos are a real landmark and a very unexpected sight in such a remote place; but the Commissariat Store is a lovely heritage building, now an interesting visitor centre. There's a Coffee Palace that Diego built - now a museum - and convict housing, other houses, and the ranger's station as well as a campsite and bike hire place. It all felt very bustling, after our three days in the bush.
We all met up again by the ruins of the preacher's house, and Sharna popped open a bottle of champers to drink a toast with our lunch of Camembert, salad and freshly-made focaccia - again, well done, Sharna. We sat in the sun, eating and drinking, watching the day-trippers come and go in their boats, and then it was our turn. Sadly I missed the ritual Jumping Off the Jetty which, in the absence of any brave guests, Danny conducted all by himself, and met us, dripping, on the jetty when we came down to board our boat.
And then it was all downhill: the drive back to Hobart to the Maria Island Walk base to empty our backpacks into our suitcases, hear and give little speeches, receive photos and booklets, and then be delivered to our various hotels, on our own again.
It was a really lovely four days and I'm very glad I was invited along. The Maria Island Walk was something I'd had my eye on for ages, and it's very satisfying to be able to tick it off - especially since the whole thing is so well organised, so easy, so sustainable, so much fun. I thoroughly recommend it.

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