The southerly wind whips up chilled spray as we scoot across Mercury Passage to Maria Island. A film of salt rests on my lips, tiny droplets linger in my hair creating a halo of dampness. Ahead looms Mt Maria, its summit concealed behind bleak low clouds that threaten rain. The sky is as grey as the sea. As we near Shoal Bay I idly wonder what Nicholas Baudin made of this place when he anchored here in 1802. Has it changed any in the intervening 200-odd years? Skipper Ben offloads us and our backpacks on the beach before disappearing around the headland. His departure is our cue to lace up our hiking boots and start walking. It’s day one of four and we don’t have too far to walk to our first overnight camp.
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