Bikepacking Maria Island
Words & Photos by Allison Piercy
Allison did a lot of chilling in Maria and didn’t ride a whole lot, but her experiences were rich. And, after all, isn’t that the whole point in riding somewhere new?
Read on for Allison’s reflections on her experience bikepacking on Maria Island, Tasmania.
First Time Bikepacking in Tasmania
My journey through Tasmania started in Hobart, a city I had never been to and a state I’d never explored. I had planned to circumnavigate the state on much of the Tassie Gift route with only my bicycle and what it could carry.
However, my first few days were more challenging than I could ever imagine. I faced more obstacles in the first day than I thought I would for the whole month. The elevation, weather and terrain was unlike anywhere I’d riden before in Queensland.
As I tackled Mt Wellington I wondered if I would even make it to camp that night. The sun started to set and I needed to find a campsite quickly. After pushing my bike 98% of the day, calling my mum and asking her what I’d been thinking of putting myself through this crazy journey and only surviving off Clif bars and a bag of nuts, I made it to camp that night by 10.00pm.
I fell asleep in my clothes in a clearing on a hill that was miraculously located next to a water tap.
Change of Plans – Bikepacking Maria Island
Things didn’t seem so difficult in the morning after coffee and breakfast. After Another five days of heavy pedalling, I took a rest day to gather my thoughts and rethink my plan in Miena, just south of the Central Plateau.
After much deliberation I decided to head East on the Tassie gift route instead of continuing North West. I could cover more ground in the East but I would be heading away from the wild terrain that the West was famous for.
One thing I had really wanted to see on my trip to Tasmania, aside from the rugged terrain, was the wildlife. This is something I thought I would significantly be missing out on if I went East where it was warmer and dryer.
After speaking with friends who had recently visited Tasmania I made a plan to incorporate Maria Island into my route. It was one of the best decisions I made in the month I spent roaming around Tasmania on my push bike.
Plenty of Critters
Originally I thought I would see so many wombats and echidnas that the sight of the cute critters would lose its magic. But I hadn’t seen anything other than wallabies and a couple of echidnas in the first 14 days on the Tassie mainland.
Imagine the joy I felt when I stepped off the ferry on Maria Island and saw two wombats within the five minutes of cycling the smooth, well-maintained, dirt roads. Although Maria Island is a tourist destination and plenty of wildlife is located within walking distance from the ferry terminal and the main campsite, I preferred the more unexplored territory that only experienced cyclists and hikers visited in the southern end of the island.
Whilst camping at French’s Farm, I met a couple of like minded bikepackers who were also lured to Maria Island by its untamed beauty. Not only did we share curry and cake but stories from our adventures on the road. In the morning volunteer conservationists allowed us to ride behind them and watch them release 3 or 4 Tasmanian Devils from traps used to monitor the endangered species for breeding purposes in hope to stop the deadly tumour diseases from spreading. The program is only run twice a year for 5 days each time.
I felt incredibly honoured to be on the island when I was, to be in this moment at the right time in a sheer moment of spontaneity.
Finding Peace on my Bike on Maria Island
For me, I found peace in Maria Island.
It was an escape from the busy highway roads I had riden in the days before to get to Triabunna, the port on the Mainland of Tasmania.
Even through the roaring 100km winds I endured the first night of camping at French’s Farm, I still found the solitude I was seeking. I saw more wildlife in the short three days there than I had seen on my whole trip and I was extremely grateful for every moment spent on this rugged little pocket of joy.
I could now cycle back to Hobart and fly home knowing that I had experienced everything I had hoped I would and more. The rest of the journey from then on was all just a delightful bonus.
I rolled into Hobart with 1200km worth of joy, appreciation, understanding, strength and admiration for myself and the universe from my experience in Tasmania.