Maria Island’s history fascinates me. One fellow in particular, eccentric Italian Diego Bernacchi, believed the island off Tasmania’s east coast could be the ‘Riviera of Australia.’ It was the 1880s and most thought he was a touch over ambitious and nutty. This didn’t stop him from developing a coffee palace, resort hotel, vineyard, silk farm and a cement works using the island’s limestone…
We’re pedalling uphill, but the bikes roll seemingly without effort, each turn of the pedals met by a shot of internal acceleration. We’re riding e-bikes – electric-assisted bikes – moving in this most contemporary of ways across one of the most historic parcels of land in Tasmania.
It’s not often my plans revolve around movements of the moon. Tasmanian E-bike Adventures talk of reconnecting with place and nature, and this moon business hints at what’s to come. It’s all about the tide. Just six days in a calendar month are open to exploring the Bangor property, south of Hobart, with its 35 kilometre ribbon of coastline.
Seventh-generation farmer Matthew Dunbabin… regales with tales of the station’s history as his mate Ben Rea from Tasmanian E-Bike Adventures leads us on an easy cross-country cycle along the coast where, in 1642, Abel Tasman planted the flag claiming Van Diemen’s Land for Holland, and in 1772 the first recorded transaction between indigenous Tasmanians and Europeans occurred.
The Australian MACQ01 launch
Our expedition begins outside the wine shed at Bangor, a heritage farming property, just off the highway immediately south of Dunalley on the Forestier Peninsula. A winding dirt road leads past Blackman’s Bay to the obligatory gourmet picnic of the finest Tasmanian produce laid across a fallen forest giant. There is smoked eel, labna, crusty bread and more.
Anabel Dean and Harriet Cunningham