The challenge today was to find as many ways as possible to celebrate Simon's birthday. We had started with a lovely dinner last night, but not sure that sleeping in a tent was particularly celebratory.
We had 50 kilometres to cover to Triabunna where we had booked to pick up the ferry for Maria Island at 4:15. There wasn't time for a cafe breakfast, but we had some new Tasmanian coffee which was excellent. Otherwise it was a standard breakfast of cereal and toast, this time using a toaster.
We were on the road by 9:30, and the day was slightly overcast with little wind. A promising start. First stop was the spiky bridge, which was aptly named, though no-one seems to be sure just what the spikes were intended to do.
Turning off to Spiky Bridge
The views along the road were magnificent, looking back onto the Freycinet peninsular. We passed little beaches and rugged bays before turning more inland.
Our next stop was Little Swanport, where there was meant to be a rest area. Jonno waited at the bridge, and we were just starting to cross it when I spotted a sign down a bit of dirt road advising that it was a conservation area. We nearly missed it, and according to some locals off to go fishing, the next rest area was not till Triabunna. We set ourselves up to enjoy the view over the river, and had a substantial morning tea of wraps, cookies and nectarines, washed down with more excellent coffee.
Tea and coffee at the Little Swanport bridge
We arranged to meet Jonno again in 30 minutes or at the top of the hill shown on our bikenet.org map. The road continued to undulate, and when we met up, Jonno advised that we had climbed the hill. Whilst there were some inclines, we agreed it wasn't much of a hill. But as it was downhill most of the way into town, it must have been the promised hill.
We arrived in Triabunna around 2pm, and stopped at the information centre to check in for the ferry and get some information about Maria Island. Whilst there were BBQs and gas stoves, there was no fridge in the communal cooking area so we would have to shop accordingly.
It was now time for lunch; seafood baskets from the infamous fish van. The seafood was served in paper cones and lived up to its reputation and was delicious.
The IGA was just up the road, and we spent some time wandering the shelves and planning our menu, knowing that we would be storing our food in metal garbage cans to keep out the native wildlife. According to the girl in the supermarket, the bottleshop was a few hundred metres away, but a check on Google maps showed it to be over 600 metres, so I returned to my bike and cycled there in search of some good local pinot noir. The others repacked the gear so it fit into the four bags we had prepaid as luggage for the ferry.
We had a little time before the ferry, so Jonno walked back to the store for some birthday icecreams. Quite a few people disembarked the ferry, but we were the only ones boarding. Our own private cruise to Maria Island, a worthy birthday celebration! We sat on the back deck and enjoyed a beer and the receding views of the township and the looming hills of Maria Island.
Enjoying my birthday icecream
Maria Island looms
There were around 90 people booked for the return journey and they were lined up along the jetty when we docked. One girl told us that we were lucky to be arriving now, as we would be able to see the Painted Cliffs, because the tide would be low at 7:30. Some helpful advice.
We loaded up a trolley and headed to the campsite via the Commissariat to pay our camping fees and seek ranger advice on best options for our one day. We spotted a mother and baby wombat, and Georgia took lots of photos. Turned out that there were wombats everywhere.
Tents erected, and our food safely stored in a garbage bin with a big rock on top, we hopped on the bikes and headed out to the Painted Cliffs. The route along the coast was stunning and the cliffs were spectacular in the late afternoon light.
It was definitely time for dinner, and we cooked up a birthday feast of porterhouse steaks, chargrilled capsicum, onions and salad. The Louis Pinot Noir was sensational, though perhaps would have been even better in a glass rather than a collapsible plastic mug. We then had cake for the birthday boy and sang happy birthday. The dark fruit cake was delicious with some custard.
I lingered in the dexerted kitchen area to start writing up the blog, and it was all quiet. A timid Tasmanian devil appeared, poking around for some food scraps before disappearing. I alerted Simon on his return from the bathroom, and he waited for the little animal to reappear. Our first devil sighting, and a fitting end to a day of little birthday celebrations.
The Painted Cliffs