Rippa of a Trip in Tasmania – Maria Island
There were glow-in-the-dark mushrooms, flying fish, birds with wingspans of more than 3 meters and Fairy penguins calling out from beneath the rocks. Sounds pretty trippy, eh? All it took was a journey down under to the southern latitude of 42 degrees and a small adventure in the Tasman Sea.
There are so many places to explore in this world that sometimes the possibilities overwhelm me. So the solution seems to be to bite off small chunks at a time and enjoy each piece to its fullest and that’s just what I have been up to.
Arriving in Tasmania was a shock to my system as the hot sun beat down on my tender Canadian winter skin. I covered up with plenty of sunscreen, long sleeve Kokatat thermals, a wide brim hat and set out with a few locals to paddle a little piece of the Eastern shore of Southern Tasmania… a modest 30 nautical miles around Maria Island.
The two days were sun drenched and windy as the afternoon sea breeze picked up and we paddled clockwise around Maria Island trying not to think of the likely close presence of sharks. The shoreline was plenty distracting though to keep my mind far from the idea of a blockbuster sequel. Maria Island, although small, boasts peaks of 700 meters that fall strait into the sea and although I’m not a geologist, the rock formations were breathtaking. Cruising along the coastline, I watched as it morphed from layers of sandstone filled with fossils on the northern tip, to metamorphic layers folded and bent above giant caves, progressing finally to the monolithic slabs of red granite that lined the southern end of the northern most island.
As we made our way southwards with a 15 – 20 knot headwind we were visited by gliding albatross that seemed very interested in our strange crafts, penguins that darted about underneath our boats in the turbulent seas and passed black-faced cormorants that lined the rocks with their wings outstretched to dry in the breeze.
After a long day on the water we relaxed under a moonless sky in a protected cove listening to the forest filled with sounds of Kookaburra, penguins, possums and wallabies. It was an intense cacophony of forest sounds that made sleep a restless endeavor, but somehow magical; I was grateful to be in this beautiful spot beneath the towering Gum trees.
The morning was leisurely, after all, I can’t stand to rush and we paddled westward towards an isthmus that joins north and south Maria Island. We landed in small surf on a white sand beach filled with turquois water and carried our boats a short distance over the sand to the west side of the Island where another bay just as beautiful as the one we had just left was waiting for us. We paddled northwest over shadowy shoals and landed briefly to check out the remnants of red brick solitary confinement chambers that were used when this island was once a Penal colony. (Looking out from the cell, it is hard to imagine that this place was used for the purpose of punishment as its inherent beauty is hard to overlook, but with four brick walls around you I suppose one could be anywhere and nowhere. I was glad to have the freedom of my kayak!)
We left Maria Island and paddled back towards mainland Tasmania with just enough wind for the locals to unfurl their kayak sails using the wind to aid their journey homeward. In the end, it was a bite-sized journey filled with tones of new sights and sounds. Sometimes I am tempted to place more value on larger more marathon style trips but in this new place all I am left with is an intensely satisfying sensation… WHAT A TRIP! ‘RIPPA!’
Big thanks to Geoff Murray –token Tasi local.