Tag Archives: maria island

Maria Island. Kettering. Hooray!

Maria Island is a crazy place, soaked in history, swarming with wombats and kangaroos. It used to have a cement factory, it used to have a vineyard… Now there are mostly ruins. Because of the whims of the wind we bypassed Darlington – the main harbour where the visitor’s centre and main campground – and continued on into Chinamans Bay.

Shoreline. Maria Island.
Shoreline and runaway float.

It is a very photographical place – the light! The lack of people! The wombats and wallabies! The old bits of china in the areas that used to be inhabited. Soooo many old bricks.

DB, heading down to the trees. Maria Island. Tasmania.
DB and the two trees.

Stayed for two or three nights, moving from one side of the bay to the other, according to the wind – which barely ever backed off. M had a win catching his first ever squid – he caught three!! Cooked them up for lunch on our way to Kettering – 🏆- for people down to powdered milk and carrots, they were extremely splendid.

Across the grasses on my solo walk.
The old cellblocks. Maria Island.
The old cellblock.
308/365 • ...jigging for squid - got three - super inky!! Thanks @leochskratta - Dino taught us well ✔️  •
Jigging for squid.

We left Maria Island at about 4am, disgustingly early (not that I got up for two more hours) and reached the Denison Canal before 8am – thus we had to anchor and wait until there were people around to answer our call requesting that they open the bridge and let us through. It feels like cheating to take such a shortcut – avoiding the Tasman Peninsula – but we have been that way in the past. I always feel a bit fancy – all the traffic stops (and this time all the roadwork had to stop), the bridge swings open and we glide on by…

309/365 • ...and we’re through the Denison Canal about to go past the Dunalley Fish Market. They had to stop the roadworks and all the traffic to open the bridge for us 😆•
Dunalley Fish Markets – on the Denison Canal

Goodbye Hobart, hello east coast with crew!

Sailing well with Ange and Belle.

Due our [failed] real estate aspirations, we have had to forego the west coast of Tasmania. I’m hoping to come back down sometime via the Kent Island Group and then on to King Island and down the west coast instead of up it… but that will have to wait.

Many months ago I booked a ticket to NYC to hang with Small Brother – somehow, my departure date is now just over four weeks away. I leave from Sydney. We mused on me flying to Sydney from Tasmania and M finding someone to crew with him across Bass Strait and a bit up the east coast of Australia, but it all got too tricky…

Instead we intend to head to Flinders Island and grab a weather window (because I’ve decided there WILL be a good one) to head up to Sydney, so M has crew, and I can fly away. Get that – I’m going to FLY SOMEWHERE ON MY OWN. I haven’t visited Small Brother since Small Z was 18 months old. She was still breastfeeding, I was a sleepless wreck, and also trying to orchestrate a good travelling equilibrium between the Mothership and M.

Spinning on the streets of New York
M & Z. New York City. June 2009.

Now I’m heading back, having put in a decade of parenting, and I intend to wander the city and SOAK UP SOME CULTURE. And then I am going to wander in the Catskills and SOAK UP SOME MORE. As you may be able to intuit, I’m becoming a little bit excited about going solo – but I’ve never left the Smalls for more than a few nights, so I’m sure that will be something of a wrench…

Ange and Belle with the Smalls.

The change in our plans has meant that we have been able to bring along our friend Ange (violinist, pianist, artist, jeweller, chook whisperer and florist) and her daughter Belle for a week as we sail between Hobart and Orford. It has been quite wonderful to have them aboard – and confirms my theories about sharing your living space with others – it keeps on your game.

The crew kicking back.
The crew. Kicking back.

Hobart Kebang!
DB and Belle, fishing for flathead.

Ange has sailed for many years on huge old wooden boats like the Lady Nelson, this is her first time on a catamaran; she’s hoping to get experience on all kinds of boats because she hopes to have her own vessel at some point. It has been awesome having her and Belle aboard – our Smalls have been vastly better behaved, and Small DB in particular has been blooming, playing bunny-mamas with Belle.

Belle & Ange. On our way out past the Iron Pot.

We left Hobart on Saturday, March 30th and headed to Lime Bay for a night or two before heading through the Denison Canal. Little bit dicey getting through – we were ready with the fenders!

B’s head, M’s legs, and three kids…

Going through the canal…

Highlights of Dunalley? There were few, but they were good. The playground is a winner.

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087/365 • …the blessed basket swing… •

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As is the boathouse on the jetty next to the little slipway. We talked to a bloke there who teaches boatbuilding to kids from the local school, in addition to making chairs. M literally squealed when he saw a bespoke electric bicycle that another inhabitant of the boatshed had made – it was beautiful.

Boat shed. Dunalley.
Boat shed. Dunalley.

There was enough of the afternoon left to explore the beach at the Narrows in the Marion Bay Conservation Area – the beach is sublime, though bereft of sea-glass…

Beach at Marion Bay near the Narrows.
Waves in the clouds.

It was about 12 nautical miles to Maria Island the following morning – gosh it’s lovely. It’s hard to believe how industrialised it was a hundred years ago. we walked to the old cellblocks and were practically kicking wombats out of the way…

Maria Island
Cellblock wombat. Maria Island.

We saw many wallabies, pademelons and wombats, and found a few pieces of old china thrown away by long ago inhabitants. Ange played some gorgeous piano music…

Angle on the piano at the Coffee Palace, Maria Island.

We spent a fairly hideous night on the mooring getting sloshed around in the waves and wind. There was not a lot of sleep – and therefore we didn’t make it ashore until midday. We were shamed by Gonyonda, who all scaled the resident mountain – a massive effort! We took the easy way out and went for a walk to the Fossil Cliffs and then cut back past an engine room and some smoke stacks.

Maria Island
Bella Luna. The album.
Maria Island
Door frame. DB.

Maria Island
Engine room. Small Z.
Maria Island
Gate post and chimney stacks.

Maria Island

Orford in the afternoon. A far superior anchorage for the conditions. Everyone got a Much Better Sleep. We wandered around the following day, doing a bit of shopping and lunching with GonYonda in the park while the kids played. M, Ange and I spent the night gossiping and playing around with family trees on ancestry.com

Saturday morning: the last morning I’d get up and see Belle and Small DB sitting together with their buns – Rose and Bunny – on the couch, either plotting mischief or minecrafting. I made pancakes for breakfast and gave Ange her last coffee with cream before we all went ashore and delivered our lovely crew to the bus stop and said our farewells.

Goodbye Ange and Belle! The perfect size family to have aboard – we enjoyed your company so much! Thank you for your hospitality and help and violin awesomeness while we were in Hobart (and while we’ve been at sea).

After Bunny sent Rose a postcard, we grabbed a few more supplies, pulled up the anchor and sailed off for Wineglass Bay…

Maria Island Redux

We left Bryan’s Corner for Maria Island at some bizarre hour of the morning – M was convinced that every boat and their dog would be whizzing toward one of the three moorings near the ferry dock. Thus, we arrived at around 7am – I sent M to bed for a nap, and he didn’t wake up until 11am!! Ha!

The Smalls and I quietly made Christmas cards and gave ourselves some screen time – no other boats turned up until our friends  on Katsumi appeared late in the afternoon. 

We’d forgotten how much we love Maria Island. We love the ruins, the crazy history, the Cape Barren Geese, the pademelons, kangaroos and wallabies, the… W O M B A T S!!!

We didn’t actually see any and Small DB was getting despondent – but we returned to land after a fairly early dinner and, as we had correctly guessed, it wombat party-time….#

Ruins. Maria Island.
Re-enactment of a photo from two years ago. Maria Island.
Maria Island. Remants of a Very Old Garden.
W O M B A T !

Goodbye money. Goodbye Hobart. Back up the east coast.

Our time in Hobart was brief – just a couple of nights. The days were spent (ha!) haemhorraging money – everything in the bank went on food and fuel, a bit of tip-shop frivolity, a bottle of beer and a bottle of wine. The Smalls both went busking and raked in about $60 each – school holiday time seems lucrative!

Zoe earns some cash.

Daisy fleeces the punters.

We spent our last night packing stuff away and having a nibbly odds and ends sort of dinner with Grant (you can see a little film about him online here – it’s from a series that we already enjoy, we just had never seen his one!) from Apache. Our friends, Karyn and Jim, pulled up to the same pontoon to meet some friends – it was good to have a little catch-up.

M had us heading out of there at 6am ? – no time for any early morning goodbyes. We had a long day ahead of us.

097/365 • pretty sad to leave Hobart behind this morning ? - the birds and rowers saw us slink out to see... sorry to miss you @teamtwodogs - glad you came over last night xx • . #hobart #morning #farewell #birds #discovertasmania #tassiestyle #b

In contrast to our trip down the east coast, this time we followed Slippery Gypsy – Ben’s catamaran – through the Denison Canal – it was kind of cool to see all the traffic banked up as the bridge opened to let us pass…

M had hoped to stop for a surf in Marion Bay, but we plugged onward, eventually reaching Orford at about 7pm. It was a relief to drop anchor.

Orford. Early morning.

The next few days were full of beautiful sunshine – I had some solitary boat time while M took the Smalls to the mouth of the Prosser River to practice their surfing.

103/365 • last trip into #orford - lots of these guys hanging around, looking at each other sideways ? • . #dinghyview #clearwater #eastcoast #crab #crabby #abcmyphoto #tasmania #discovertasmania #tassiestyle #bellalunaboat #Autumn2017 #cruising

This gave me time to actually edit and fix almost all of the tracks on the map of our travels (which you can find by clicking up the top – or here – on ‘ROUTE’). Yay me! It was a somewhat steep learning curve!

Easter morning, on the way to Maria Island.

100/365 • the Wombat of Easter at Rest • . #mariaisland #wombat #exploring #abcmyphoto #tasmania #discovertasmania #tassiestyle #bellalunaboat #Autumn2017 #cruising

We spent Easter Sunday on Maria Island doing some wombat-spotting and had a bumpy night in Darlington Bay. So bumpy, that we headed back to Orford, on another spectactular morning, to get the hell out of there.

Darlington Bay, Maria Island. Easter Sunday.

Why were we hanging around Orford, instead of continuing up the coast? Because I had ordered new shoes for Small Z a week or two earlier and was having them sent to Orford Post Office. I had not counted on three things:

  • The Denison Canal route making our journey so much quicker
  • Easter, and the public holidays attached to it
  • The ineptitude of Australia Post
  • Thus I tweeted Australia Post – begging to have a delivery date. No matter that the shoes had been in Australia for over a week – they were unable to deal with specifics. In the end, it took a shorter time for the shoes to get to Australia from the USA than it did to get them from Victoria to Tasmania. Hopeless doesn’t even cover it.

    Of course, they arrived the day after we left – and of course we could have stayed an extra day IF WE HAD KNOWN. Gahhhhhhh. In the middle of the shoe-waiting we visited Triabunna for the night to top up our fuel. Stan, the harbourmaster, was no longer in charge, but we were told we could tie up for the night. Huzzah!

    Small Z made us breakfast…

    102/365 • pancake maker • . #6yo #breakfast #pancakes #abcmyphoto #tasmania #discovertasmania #tassiestyle #bellalunaboat #Autumn2017 #cruising

    Mr Chattypants was out in force and people gave him a quince, a book of violin sheet music and two amazing apples…as well as a little bag of coffee (an original blend).

    Triabunna. A perfect morning.

    Both in Orford and Triabunna the Smalls had the opportunity to bust out their scooters and enjoy themselves. This is Small Z’s ‘Death-Hang’…

    Small Z's DEATH-HANG!

    We spent our last morning in Orford double-checking on the inadequacy of Australia Post (and my opinion of them has no relation to the Orford Post Office, which was incredibly helpful – they agreed to forward our mail and return our library books – it’s a pity they aren’t running the whole bloody company).

    After a consoling wifi session at the cafe, where I downloaded a handful of library books for the weeks ahead – and (at the request of M) an animated knots app – we motored back through clear water spotted with spider crabs, and got going.

    Triabunna, Orford, Maria Island, Triabunna, Orford.

    Small DB and I went for a crystalline early morning walk around Triabunna, her in her PJs and dancing bare feet. It was a Monday morning, November 28th. The further we walked, the more entranced I became. It’s a little tiny town with what seems like one of everything.

    A little supermarket, petrol station, a butcher, a chemist, real estate agent and op-shop. Op-shop. Small DB and I went over and pressed our faces to the window. It looked like a good one. I was all ready to lament – everybody knows op-shops are always closed on Mondays…

    Not in Triabunna!! When we came back, a few hours later, both Smalls ended up walking out in entirely new ensembles than those they had worn on entering. I had done a quick and stealthy declutter of the boat and handed over a very full bag of stuff that was no longer required.

    247/365 • both Smalls walked out of this excellent op-shop wearing entirely new outfits - another ? for the beautiful #Triabunna #Spring2016 #discovertasmania #tasmaniagram #tasmania #bellalunaboat #8yo #6yo #opshop

    We did a supermarket shop and were able to take the trolley to the boat, unload, and then return it. Bacon, silverside and some roo sausages were purchased at the butcher. We paid Stan, the harbourmaster, our $30. Our lunch, after our shop, felt wholly decadent.

    Triabunna is set up to be a fantastic place for caravanners – the vacant block opposite the pub and next door to the butchers was studded with motorhomes – the visitor’s centre was welcoming (and had hot showers – although they were about a dollar a minute – I warmed up pots of water and Small Z and I showered aboard the boat – her first shower since leaving Victoria…) and there were BBQ facilities, a coffee van… and helpful street signs….

    Triabunna. Signpost of the gods.

    Triabunna. A very well lit boat. For catching squid?

    We sailed over to Orford in the afternoon and, for the first time ever, tied on to a public mooring. A little tricky. We went for a walk the following morning – Orford was like a ghost town along the beachfront – presumably many of the houses are holiday-houses. But the playground….! In addition to the normal climbing frame, swings and slides, there was a section with streets, round-a-bouts and working traffic lights! The Smalls, who had brought their scooters, were in heaven….

    Small Z was thrilled to discover our secret intention behind going to Orford – it has a library! A tiny library, but still… We lugged ipads and the laptop there, only to find that there was no library wifi – but we were able to borrow books, which was excellent….

    248/365 • #orford has more boatsheds/private jetties than anywhere I've ever seen. Apparently there was a bad storm not long ago and there was evidence in the form of many wrecked dinghies and mucho driftwood. Orford has a library ? and we are glad

    The next day we returned to the library via a little stall with an honesty box out the front of their house – there were raspberries, broadbeans, spuds, eggs and an enormous bunch of rhubarb. GLORY! We scooted down to the shop to get change of a twenty dollar note – but when we got back, the eggs and rhubarb were gone. So disappointed! So disappointed in fact, that I knocked on the door to see if they might have any secret rhubarb hanging about, but they didn’t. Woe. WOE.

    On the way back down the main road we passed the little primary school. Small Z told me later that the kids yelled out at her and Small DB.



    “No,” she said. “I just stuck out my tongue and kept scooting…”

    “Good one.”

    We consoled ourselves at the cafe, where there WAS wifi, although it plodded along. It seemed that everyone who did populate Orford had lunch there on Tuesdays – we got a few glances with our bags of shopping, iPads and laptop, all gathered around a cappuchino and two fuzzy milks.

    The cafe looks out on to a lagoon kind of thing, where the Prosser River meets the sea. The entrance to the river has silted up and getting access in a boat is tricky. I had a brief dream of nursing Bella Luna over the bar and sitting at anchor in the middle of the lagoon siphoning the plodding wifi and watching the world go by.


    249/365 • good morning Maria Island - we are yet to see you without your cloud toupee ☁️ • #249_2016 #tasmania #tasmaniagram #discovertasmania #goodmorning #view #bellalunaboat #Summer2016

    M (I suspect testing his solo sailing capabilities should I be swept overboard and gone) awoke at about 5am on 1 December 2016 – the first day of summer – released us from the mooring and sailed us over to Chinaman’s Bay on Maria Island. We arrived around 9am. The day was gloomy. M was exasperated with our inactivity, but the Smalls and I wanted to stay aboard – to abstain from exploring for the day. I delivered M to the beach so he could go on a lonely bloke-walk to look at convict ruins and wombats and the Smalls and I spent the day being leisurely. It was lovely.

    Zoe. R&R.

    On the second day of summer, we moved Bella Luna around the bay to the isthmus – there was a helpful gap in between the trees that seemed to indicate the narrowest point. M, somewhat overly-optimistically, brought the surfboards and we walked the 200 metres or so from our bay over to the surf beach.

    I'm right up the front of the boat with three surfboards...
    I’m right up the front of the boat with three surfboards…

    The Smalls immediately wanted to surf, and both M and I made parental errors – whacking them on a board each and helping them catch waves (lying down on the boards). Both of them fell off, were dunked, and cried. M happily caught some waves and emerged from the water like a happy shaggy dog.

    We did some calming shell collecting…and the afternoon culminated in the Smalls prancing in the waves as the tide went out and conditions became a bit more gentle. We sailed back to our favoured spot in Chinamans Bay, pleasantly exhausted.

    Beach bums. First swim of the season.
    Beach bums. First swim of the season.


    After another super-early solo start on M’s part, we anchored at Darlington – the kind of ‘capital’ or main port – on Maria Island. It was so odd to sail into the bay and see the remains of SO much infrastructure – huge cylindrical towers belonging to an unfortunate attempt at exporting cement in around the 1920s.

    Darlington. Maria Island.

    There were also ruins of a grand hotel, houses, a kiln… A few of the buildings had been resuscitated/preserved – the visitor’s centre, the coffee palace and the accommodation area…

    All Photos-1293

    We did a circuit walk to Fossil Beach, where we spent an hour or so looking through the millions of rocks with fossilised shells in them.

    All Photos-1305

    We made our way back to the boat for lunch and ventured out again in the late afternoon for further investigations. The weather forecast only allowed us to have the one day and a night in Darlington, so we tried to take advantage of the time we had there.

    All Photos-1296

    All Photos-1298

    All Photos-1299

    I was so glad we went back ashore – we saw WOMBATS!! Trundles of WOMBATS and most capital-lettery of all WOMBAT BABIES. There were also, not quite as cute, Cape Barren Geese wandering about everywhere, but it was the wombats that thrilled us. They wandered everywhere, both around the accommodation area and near the shore.

    All Photos-1303

    Maria Island is more like a big park than a tangle of bush – the land has been used in the past for sheep grazing, but now its large expanses of grass are munched by kangaroos, wallabies and wombats. We walked up to explore an abandoned hut and investigated the lean-to which still had newspapers from around 1930 or so stuck to the walls and ceiling…


    We beachcombed our way back to Bella Luna – a beautiful sunshiney evening. We were all exhausted, and our plans to return and look at the old coffee palace at 8.30am the following morning were abandoned – we sailed back to Chinamans Bay at about 9am in order to be sheltered from the predicted wind.

    We don’t have a wind meter, but it blew h-a-r-d through the night. M had put out a second anchor so we didn’t have to worry about dragging. The morning dawned super-sunshiney and we fanged our way across Mercury Passage – initially intending to go back to Orford – but deciding halfway to make contact with Stan – the harbourmaster at Triabunna – to see if we could pull in for the afternoon free of charge in order to do some shopping.

    It was a little dicey heading up the channel to Triabunna – we pulled the sails down and motored, but even so, one of our centreboards hit the bottom – eeep! I was so glad it wasn’t me at the helm… We re-explored Triabunna – bought M some shorts at the op-shop, filled up our water tanks and had a nap…

    For some reason, there are no spots to tie up in Triabunna that don’t cost money. In almost all of the other little towns we have visited so far, there are pontoons where you can stay for a few hours, or overnight if you arrive in the evening. The Spring Bay Boat Club didn’t want to know us – so, in order to avoid paying Stan another $30, we set sail for one of the public moorings at Orford.

    Oh joy! Just before we left I checked my email and had a VERY welcome message about something that had been worrying M and I for a week. This was followed by a shout up on deck. “DOLPHINS!”

    Oh my goodness. Our best dolphin experience yet! A whole pod of them danced around the front of the boat as we sailed toward Orford, chasing each other, splashing us as we jumped up and down shrieking and swimming on their back with their white bellies glowing…

    They even stuck around when we had to start the motors, and didn’t leave until we neared our mooring.

    “Bye bye dolphins,” sang Small Z, as they arced away, glazed in the afternoon light. “Thank you for your performance. Thank you for visiting us!”

    Orford was much better the second time around – – purely because of the weather. In one short week it has become summer. I am hot at night under my woollen doona, and even as I type this at 7.30pm, I’m sitting in the last of the sun wearing a t-shirt.

    M went ashore this morning at 9am to get to the stall outside the house where we missed out a week ago. Glory!! He got bunches of rhubarb and three dozen eggs 🙂

    In the meantime, Small DB had woken up determined to pursue her dream of becoming a chef and had started making pikelets. Only we have no buckwheat flour left – so there wasn’t a whole lot of nutrition in her pikelets and with jam on top, by the time I got them into Foamy to take them ashore to meet M at the library, we were all hopped up on sugar and a little bit crazed.

    It took us an a-g-e to get to the library – and it seemed particularly appropriate that I’m currently reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed – the majority of the book she is wearing a backpack that is way too heavy. Mine was full of library books, water bottles, M’s forgotten coffee and my lifejacket *groan* I think