Our last trip in Tasmania was one to tick off another sight I've been wanting to see - the Painted Cliffs on Maria Island.
The entire island is a national park. With it's World Heritage listed convict probation station, sweeping bays, rugged cliffs and mountains, it is a special place. There are no private vehicles and the wombats, Cape Barren geese and kangaroos run with far more freedom than the convicts ever had. The Painted cliffs, Fossil Cliffs and stunning views, all near the settlement of Darlington, are another of nature's highlights.
There are several walks on the island and people spend days exploring. After an informative ferry ride from Triabunna, we set off to see the sites in the far north if the island.
The only accommodation on the island is in the old Penitentiary
We started our walk south along the coast and beautiful beaches that would be tempting...on a warm day!
The sandstone outcrop at the southern end of Hopground Beach is the beginning of the Painted Cliffs.
The exquisite patterns are caused by groundwater percolating through the sandstone, leaving traces of iron oxides.
Despite the overcast weather, the colours and patterns were spectacular.
Aiming to view them at low tides, means you can walk along infront of them for a good view
but even the ground has mesmerising patterns
The details in the layers are incredible
The patterns created in the various colours are unqiue
the rock formations, with the layers and the colours create some very interesting details
In more recent times, sea spray hitting the rock face had dried, forming crystals of salt. These crystals cause the rock to weather in the honeycomb patterns below - perfect for climbing - if it wasn't a protected national park!
The variation in rock types left impressions on the ground
While we admired the Painted Cliffs, a Tall Ship gracefully sailed by and off into the distance
Darlington Probation Station 1825-32; 1842-50
Placed strategically on Maria Island, a place of outstanding natural beauty and heritage, the peaks of Bishop and Clerk and Mt Maria make Maria Island visible from many places along Tasmania's east coast. The focus was on punishment and reform through hard labour, religious instruction and education. At it's peak it housed up to 500 convicts.
Established to take advantage of the many natural resources at hand, life for a convict sent to Darlington was one of contradictions. The island's beauty betrays the hard work that took place here. As one of many probation stations that were built in Tasmania, convicts were sent to Darlington to be reformed through work, education and religious instruction. Though a grand scheme, the vision of the probation stations was ultimately not realised and highly costly.
The island landscape is today covered with evidence of the well organised and structured probation system and plentiful natural resources.
Today, you can look around the Coffee Palace:
The Drawing Room
The dining Room
and see some old photographs from the 1920s, such as these school children, with their toys
Separate Apartment Cells
These cells constructed in 1842-46 were designed to keep prisoners separated at night and meal times.
Like most buildings on Maria Island, the convicts built Oast House has had many uses.
It was originally to dry hops (the female flowers or seed cones of the hop plant) as part of the beer brewing process, and as such is one of the oldest oast hoses in Australia. The hop plants were planted in 1820 and by 1847 they were producing 3 tonnes of hops per year.
The two cylindrical parts of the building are the drying kilns. A fire was lit in the bottom of each one (accessed from inside the main room) and above the fire was a floor made of special ventilating bricks – with their smaller holes facing upwards – and a layer of hops sitting on them. The kilns would have been rooved.
Later the building was used for making wine and alterations made.
After the closure of the convict station, the island was leased for farming and used as a base for fishermen.
Darlington was renamed San Diego. Local limestone was exploited for the production of cement.
In 1920s these silos were used to store the cement.
Spectacular sea cliffs which plunge sheer to the sea to a world-class fossil site.
In the 1920's the limestone fossils were mined and transported by tramway to the cement works near the jetty to be manufactured into cement and stored in the silos.
Looking at the cut face of the quarry, you can see that the grey limestone is studded with thousands of mussel-like shells.
The soft parts of the creatures have rotted away, leaving only the hard shells, which have lasted almost 300 million years.
The stones consit of different rock types, including granite and quartzite.
The Engine House site is part of what was the major industrial area of Maria Island from the 1820s to 1920.
The valley surrounding this building contains remnants of brick making - including some of the oldest evidence of brick making in Australia - plus reservoirs, roads, clay pits, houses, railway lines, quarrying, drainage, mining, geological exploration, sawmilling and kilns.
the engine house was built by Diego Bernacci in the late 1880s to house the machinery - most likely a steam engine - that would drive a number of industries on the island., including brick making, lime manufacturing, cement making and timber cutting. The vaulted ceilings and buttressed walls suggest that the building was designed to support heavy machinery, while the discarded stone converted to be part of a stream driven machine for grinding cement.
when it was first built, the engine house would have been in the middle of all the activity and excitement about Bernacchi's early plans for the island.
During the twentieth century the cement making moved to a waterfront site and the majority of the quarrying on the island occurred at the Fossil Cliffs. After 1907 the large kilns were partly demolished and the engine house became known as 'the Stables', reflecting the quieter pace of life in the valley, and the continuing story of 'rescue' of buildings and materials on Maria Island.
The Bernacchi Home 1843
In 1886, a Parliamentary party visited Maria Island to view developments.
The island had been leased to al Italian Diego Bernacchi, for 10 cents per year on the condition that certain industries be established.
and of course it would have the best view on the island, looking fow towards thejetty and scross to Darlington
This large red brick building dates from the cement works in 1889.
During the convict era this was used to fire bricks, and later for lime-making.
Today it holds a collection of farm machinery recovered form the island.
The Grand Hotel
Late in the 1880's the convict hospital and outbuildings were demolished to make way for another Bernacchi Enterprise - The Grand Hotel.
Lavishly furnished, it boasted billiard, dining, drawing and smoking rooms, as well as bedrooms for thirty of more gusts.
Designed as part of a sanatorium complex, it never met with great success. It claimed to be "A happy hunting ground of the Geologist, Naturalist, Conchologist, Artist and Alpine Climber".
Through open woodland and tall eucalypt forest to the convict-built reservoir.
During the first convict period (1825-1832) the convicts constructed a dam on the creek in order to make a reservoir to supply the settlement of Darlington. IT is still in use today.
It is remarkable for having survive the years so well.
Its decoration and detailing are quite elaborate for its size and display the best remain joinery on the island.
Some of the newspaper that lines the walls shows the date of 1923.
Around the island, there are plenty of interesting sights, including this Beluga Whale skull,
these great reflections
unusual tree formation
these Naked Ladies flowers
Bright berries in the forest
and this phone box pretending to be a tardis!
and to top off a good day of sight-seeing we were lucky enough to see some dolpins on the ferry ride home. Although they didn't surface much as they were feeding