Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Maria Island Guided Walk - 4 Days in Paradise!

There are a couple of ways that you can get to Maria Island, Tasmania, and that is by boat or by plane. The Maria Island Guided Walk offers both options on their tours and may I say, the flight option is amazing.

The 1 hour flight tracks over historic Port Arthur then south to Tasman Island before heading north up Tasmania's East Coast along an amazing coastline of gleaming sandy beaches, dolerite cliffs and sea stacks.

                                Tasman Island, Tasmania

A fly over of Maria Island reveals the route that the Maria Island Guided Walk will take us over the next 4 days.

                                Darlington Airfield

Another perfect landing on the northern tip of Maria Island, and then we are off on our 4 day adventure.

Darlington, the main settlement of Maria Island, was once a Probation Station that was established in 1825.

Many of the original buildings still remain and they have been fully restored, including the Penitentiary Cells, which have been turned into public accommodation. We will be staying there on our last night of the tour.

The tour breezes through Darlington, then heads south towards the Painted Cliffs. The patterns in the sandstone cliffs here are truly amazing. Our guides take us to some hidden gems that are really seen!

                      Painted Cliffs, Maria Island

There are surprises around every corner on our walk, pristine beaches, wombats for miles, gangs of Yellow Tail Black Cockatoos overhead and the smells of the forests and ocean.

                                French's Farmhouse Circa 1930

French's Farm was our base camp for 2 nights and the evenings were fantastic. We watched grazing wombats and wallaby's while we enjoyed a few fine Tasmanian wines.

Day 2 has a couple of walking options, and due to the perfect weather, the guides decided to take us to Haunted Bay, which is as far south that the walking track can take us.

                                Haunted Bay

Haunted Bay is amazing! It's a fair walk to get there but you are rewarded by fantastic views and the feeling of remoteness. The bay is the home to nesting Little Penguins and it was once a shore based whaling station in the early 1800's.

Our guides whipped up a fantastic picnic lunch, then we retraced our footsteps back to French's Farm.

                                Summit view from Mount Maria 710m

On day 3 we headed back to Darlington via the "Inland Track". Those of us that had a bit more petrol in the tank, elected to walk to the summit of Mount Maria, which gave us stunning views over most of the island and westwards towards mainland Tasmania.

Back at Darlington we were immersed in the history of the island. The probation station has been restored to its former glory and we got sleep comfortably in the converted Penitentiary Cells that once interned over 600 convicts.

                                Darlington Probation Station

On day 4 our guides took us on an amazing exploration around the northern part of Maria Island. We poked our heads into numerous historical buildings and we had some incredible vistas.

                                Mount Bishop & Clerk viewed from Skipping Ridge

Its was an incredible 4 day adventure. Our hosts were Stan & Senna from The Maria Island Guided Walk and we look forward to coming back soon.

Leaving Maria Island by ferry

Friday, May 8, 2015

Maria Island - Give the Devil it's Due

In 2012, fifteen Tasmania Devils were released on Maria Island, part of a captive breeding program, free from the facial tumor disease [FTD] which is threatening the survival of the species.

These fifteen Tasmanian Devils set off for Maria Island in an effort to save their species from extinction and against the odds, we are pleased to say to date, that they are thriving and breeding well.

Numbers today are estimated to be around 85 - 90 Devils.

The initial release area was in the middle of the island at French's Farm and only after a couple of months motion cameras and radio collars recorded the Devils as being widespread throughout the island.

Maria Island has a total area of 115km2 and lies 4km off Tasmania's East Coast. The Tasmanian Devil can run up to 13km/h and covers an average distance of 8.6km every night.

Due to the widespread distribution of the Tasmanian Devil on Maria Island you are likely to see a Devil on The Maria Island Guided Walk. This 4 day walk covers the length and breadth of Maria Island and you will commonly see the Tasmanian Devil in it's natural habitat.

Tasmanian Devils are listed as vulnerable, but with a captive breeding program such as this one on Maria Island, it will help to protect the species.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Outback Masterchef

The 2015 season of Masterchef premiered on TV yesterday and it had me licking my lips all night. There were some awesome dishes that wowed the judges, and some that didn't.

Are YOU a good cook? When you are out in the outdoors, what do you cook? I'm not talking BBQ's, anyone can flip a steak, I'm talking about meals on the trail, somewhere remote!

It's probably easier for you to purchase off the shelf products, namely dehydrated or freeze dry meals, just add water and your done, or do you make an effort and cook something from scratch?

When taking food on the trail, the time and the amount of fuel it takes to cook it, and the weight of the food all comes into consideration.

At Tasmanian Hikes we mostly cook our meals from scratch. We can add or omit ingredients to suit our guests dietary requirements.

If you are not cooking for guests, the choice is yours.

We have researched some dehydrated meals that are available on the market and found that Strive Food is the brand of choice for taste and fulfillment.

You are going to need a stove and have to do the research on which one to buy to suit your style of cooking.

The Trangia stove is a trusted favourite, it comes as a kit with pots and the burner and requires no maintenance, however fuel consumption is not efficient.

MSR make a variety of cooking systems that are probably the most fuel efficient.

The MSR dragonfly is our stove of choice [although a bit noisy] but it will cook your meal quickly and efficiently. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

South Coast Track Walk, Tasmania. A Photo Essay.

The South Coast Track is a unforgettable walking experience that begins at a place us locals call "the end of the world" then it traverses east along the southern coastline of Tasmania for 9 days to Cockle Creek.

This photo essay of the South Coast Track will give you an insight of this incredible walk, the challenges you face and the beauty of one of Tasmania' "Great Walks". 
The flight into Melaleuca is extraordinary. Here we fly over Point Eric with Par Avion. Point Eric is our 1st nights camp on our 9 day journey. It was also here at Point Eric that Denny King began his first Tin Mine.

As you can see it's not all rain and mud. Here we are approaching Cox's Bight on Day 1. The mountain Range in the background are the Ironbounds, which we will tackle on day three.
Day 2 we set out from Point Eric to Louisa River. It was forecast to be a very hot day today so we left quite early. The range in the background is the New Harbour Range.
Up we go! This is the start of the accent up the Ironbounds from Louisa River (we camped in the tree line) Typically the whole traverse of the range will take about 10 hours but be prepared to take longer in adverse conditions. For those lucky enough to get good weather, the views are incredible.
With the Ironbounds done & dusted plus the relaxation of a rest day we welcome the wide expanses of Prion Beach. Prion Beach is the longest beach on the walk at 5km long. In the distance is the South Cape Range, another one of our many obstacles.

At the end of Prion Beach is New River Lagoon. The camp is on the other side so we have to work out the logistics of getting us all across. The impressive massif of Precipitous Bluff looms in the background. PB sits at the end of the Southern Ranges, just beyond the extent of our Moonlight Ridge walk.
This picture was taken from the campsite of Surprise Bay, probably our favourite campsite. Here we are looking west towards the Ironbound Range. This camp is day 6 out of 9 and the South Cape Range is still to come.
The South Cape Range rises up from Granite Beach. The views from here are incredible. You can see mostly the whole length of the southern coastline down to South West Cape.
The end is near. It's a relatively easy walk out from South Cape Rivulet to Cockle Creek along Blowhole Valley and our waiting coach to Hobart.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Discover Maria Island - A Guided Walk

Known as the Island of Inspiration, Tasmania is renowned for its magnificent bushwalking tracks. With more than 20 percent of the island set aside as protected land, there are abundant opportunities for scenic hikes through the countryside. These excursions range from short, easy strolls to challenging wilderness treks that cover an array of different environments, including white sandy beaches, ancient rainforests and rugged mountainous terrain. Highly rated bushwalking tracks include Cradle Mountain, Quamby Bluff and Liffey Falls. The Walls of Jerusalem, which is situated in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, as well as the South Coast and Arm River Tracks are also popular routes. Another impressive excursion is the gentle four-day guided bushwalking tour of Maria Island. Although you can fly to this World Heritage-listed national park, a trip aboard the ferry Spirit of Tasmania is more economical, eco-friendly and closer to nature.
The natural beauty of Maria Island is the perfect backdrop for an up-close glimpse of the island’s fascinating wildlife and plant species. The trek also introduces bushwalkers to Maria Island’s aboriginal and European history. The Tyreddeme Aboriginal people settled the island thousands of years before the 19th century arrival of European explorers. Home to a penal colony older than Port Arthur, Maria Island has hosted whalers, sealers and farmers. Today, it is a national park with no permanent human population. Taking the shape of a figure eight, the larger northern portion of the island is connected to the southern part by the 3-kilometer-long McRaes Isthmus. Each portion of the island has its own unique geological features. In addition to 14 distinct terrestrial plant communities, the animal inhabitants include red-necked wallabies, bare-nosed wombats and Tasmanian kangaroos as well as rare and engendered bird species, such as the Cape Barren geese. The clear waters offshore afford the opportunity to spot dolphins, seals and migrating whales.
After arriving by air or aboard the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, friendly guides will immerse you in the island’s cultural and natural history. The leisurely four-day guided walk includes accommodation in large tents for two nights and in converted penitentiary cells for one night. Dine on gourmet meals under the stars featuring fresh local produce and Tasmanian wine. Starting in Darlington, this guided outdoor adventure includes the amazing Painted Cliffs, convict cells of Point Leseur and historic French’s Farm. Stroll along the unspoiled sand of Haunted Bay, enjoy the vista from atop Mount Maria and visit Oast House, one of the oldest buildings in Australia. Tour other historic buildings, such as the former penitentiary. Built in the 1830s, the penal colony is now a World Heritage property. In addition to experiencing the views of the Fossil Cliffs, bushwalkers have the option of trekking up the slopes of Mount Bishop and Clerk.

A Tasmania walkabout with a knowledgeable guide is a wonderful way to experience the island. Hikers, walkers and other outdoor adventurers will discover why the four-day guided trek through Maria Island National Park is regarded as one of Australia’s best walking tours.

Friday, January 16, 2015

South Coast Track - Tasmania's Most Iconic Bushwalk

Anyone who enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and bushwalking should consider taking a trip to the South Coast Track in Tasmania. This is a large region within Southwest National Park that contains more than 600,000 hectares of wilderness. This is a journey for adventurous people who want a challenging hike in truly wild area.

When it comes to getting to Tasmania, you don’t have to fly. Many people find that the most enjoyable way to travel is via ferry. The Spirit of Tasmania offers comfortable passage between Melbourne and Devonport. This option allows you to take your own car and pack as much luggage as you want. The boat also provides many other benefits not found on planes, such as gourmet food and entertainment.

Preparing For the Track

The South Coast Track is not a place to go on a casual hike. It’s one of the most remote and wild places on the planet. It includes a variety of terrain, including mountains, rain forests, river crossings, swampland and beaches alongside the Southern Ocean. Completing the track, which is a journey of 85 km, usually takes between six and nine days. You must be in good physical condition and bring ample supplies with you. The South Coast Track begins in Melaleuca, which does not have roads. You must therefore walk, sail or fly to the starting point. The following are some of the most essential items you should bring.

You want to make sure you know where you are at all times. You should have at least one good map that shows tracks, huts and other essential information.
You should carry enough food for the trip. It’s best to pack nutritionally dense foods. You can bring gas canisters for cooking, as open fires are only permitted in a few select campsites.
Water is plentiful for most of the track, but it is advisable to bring a filter. There is one section of the trip, the Inbound Range, where water is not available. You should therefore carry at least a day’s worth of water for this stage of the trek.
You will need a quality tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, waterproof clothing, hiking boots, a water bottle and a solid backpack. You should wear long sleeves, long pants and boots at all times. You will probably encounter mud, knee-deep water, sharp vegetation and snakes, so it’s best to keep your body protected.
Although the South Coast Track is a wild and remote region, it also provides walkers with the tranquility seldom found in civilization. You also have the ability to walk at your own pace, which can make the trek more or less challenging. For example, if you don’t feel prepared or you don’t have the time to hike the entire track you could hike a portion of it.

You can walk for days without encountering another person, so be prepared for some solitude or to only have the company of the person or people you’re walking with. Taking a walk in the South Coast Track can be used as an opportunity to take a break from your everyday life and appreciate the beauty of nature.