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Ten resons why Maria Island is a favourite place
Ten resons why Maria Island is a favourite place

10 reasons to visit Maria Island — things to see and do

Maria Island was one of my favourite places I visited in Tasmania. This little island on the east coast is a mini-Tasmania, without the people. It has everything you want to see in Tasmania all in one place: convict heritage sites, amazing wildlife, and great outdoor activities such as tramping, walking, biking, and camping. Really the only thing it’s missing is delicious local Tasmanian food. (But you can buy that at the Salamanca Market in Hobart and bring it over for the complete experience).

A visit to Maria Island is not at the top of most people’s Tasmania bucket list and it is not easy to get to. The ferry is limited to 45 passengers per crossing, even so it’s never exceptionally busy. Which is awesome since it means you won’t have to fight crowds while you walk through convict ruins, snap photos of adorable wombats and wallabies, or hike and bike to beautiful rock formations.

1
NATURE CONSERVATION MARIA ISLAND PLEDGE

Top of the list is the Maria Island Pledge. It is functional, protects the wildlife and is totally emphatic with why visitors want to go. Here is the pledge, sign up even if you are can’t get there now. Of course it is just a matter of time before you visit Maria.

You are bound to meet some very special characters on Maria Island. Wombats, kangaroos, wallabies, birds and many other wild and furry creatures. It’s important that we respect these animals and their beautiful home. The community of Spring Bay have written a Pledge that we’d love you to take. It’s just a simple promise to keep Maria Island the way you found it, wild and pristine.

If you’d like to take the Pledge please go to mariaislandpledge.com.au.

2
WILDLIFE MARIA ISLAND

Best wildlife watching in Tasmania. They live underground in burrows but come out at night to munch on grasses. I was surprised at how big wombats are – about 70cm/28″ in length. Fun fact: they have square poops. Maria Island is also home to some threatened populations of native animals. In the 1960s Forester kangaroo populations were declining on the mainland so kangaroos were brought to Maria Island. They are now thriving. The same story is true for Cape Barren geese, a large bird similar to a Canada goose. The Tasmanian devil population started plummeting in the early 2000s due to facial tumour disease. Maria Island was one of the first places that healthy captive-bred devils were released into the wild. Today Maria Island hosts several dozen Tasmanian devils in a test program. If a devil can successfully survive on its own on Maria Island, they recapture it after a few years and move it to the mainland. They hope this will reestablish a healthy population there.The best place on the island to see all of these animals on the open grassy slopes in Darlington and on the nearby airstrip. If you stay overnight you will see even more animals as many of them are nocturnal and only come out at dusk.

3
CULTURE & HERITAGE CONVICTS

Convict settlements of it’s Tasmania with a plethora of grim reminders of what people can do to people. The main site is the former town of Darlington. The Commissariat Store, near the ferry jetty. It’s the oldest building on the island and was originally a storehouse. Repurposed as the visitor centre with detailed displays of its former life as part of a penitentiary.

4
CULTURE & HERITAGE COFFEE PALACE

Part of the industrial era 1888-1896 (short lived venture manufacturing cement) was the construction of worker’s cottages, known as a Coffee Palace built with bricks from convict cells. The Coffee Palace. Then repurposed as a restaurant and boarding house for visitors now a museum. Two of the rooms have been restored to how they would have looked in the 1890s. There’s also audio narrating the life on Maria Island in the 1880’s.

5
NATURE PAINTED CLIFFS - PHOTO LOCATION

Painted Cliffs, layers of red, bronze and gold tipped sandstone rocks are recognisable from the numerous Instagram photographs.Or maybe the painted cliffs are second in the photo stakes as the adorable wombats genuine cover page stars. The sandstone cliffs have traces of red iron oxide creating the layers and patterns. Then nature has finished the palate with sculpturing the rocks into swirls and curves. It’s glorious,especially in the sunrise or sunset.

6
ACTIVE CYCLYING

Cycle your way around Maria. Maria Island is a cyclist’s bucket list destination as its routes do not include steep hill climbs, rather undulating roads. There are only Parks vehicles. The routes in the north are for easy to moderate cyclists while more experienced cyclists explore the southern more remote areas. If you have limited time, riding allows you to explore further afield than you can on foot. In some areas the tracks are soft sand making it slow going. Riding on beaches is prohibited due to the shore bird activity. Plan your trip to catch the last ferry or plan your stay overnight.

From Maria Island by bike | Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania

Times and distances return from Darlington.

​​Maria Island North​Time​Distance
Reservior track0.5-1 hour​​4km
Painted Cliffs and Oast House Circuit​0.75-1 hour

4.3km​

 

​Fossil Cliffs Circuit0.75-1.5 hours​4.5km​
Bishop and Clerk​​3-5 hours11km​​​
Mount Maria3-5 hours​​​16km

To explore South Maria, you will need a detailed topographic map available for purchase at the Ranger Station in Darlington. When purchasing your map, please also take the time to log your trip intentions in the log book.​​​

 

Times and distances return ​from Darlington.

​Maria Island SouthTime​​Distance
Frenchs Farm​​​3 hours22km​
Encampment Cove​4 hours​26km​
Point Lesueur​5 hours​28km​
McRaes Isthmus (northern end)​​5 hours​28km​
Robeys Farm​8 hours​38km​
Haunted Bay​8-10 hours​40km​
7
NATURE BIRD WATCHING

Birders delight, Maria Island will reward patience to spot the endangered mininature forty-spotted pardalote. The island is pest free and with little human interference is an excellent place for bird watching. The Cape Barren Goose is another photo favourite as they graze on the grassed slopes surrounding Darlington. For the avid bird watcher click on the following link to identify Maria Island National Park bird checklist. Remember to download the list as Maria does not have Wifi reception in most areas of the park.

8
ACTIVE WALKS

Several short walks can be completed in a day. The popular Fossil Cliffs Loop is an easy 2-hour loop walk that provides a great overview of Maria Island’s past. Convict building remains, 1880’s industrial era and other attempts to colonise Maria Island. The cemetery is a vivid marker of Maria’s history. The highlight of the walk is the limestone rocks at the Fossil Cliffs. Look out for fossils in the rocks at the former quarry and there are superb photo locations of tthe sea cliffs towards Bishop & Clerk Peak. For details click here Fossil Cliffs | Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania. NOTE: unprotected cliff edges, supervise children.

  • Length 4.5km
  • Duration 2 hours

Reservoir Circuit Walk duration is 1.5 hours and you walk through the remnants of Maria Island’s native bush. The walks enteres eucalypt forest and near the reservoir is a place for a picnic. You are are quiet the wildlife and birds will start a chorus for you. This is the favourite haunt of the endangered forty-spotted pardalote. There are also a few historical ruins along the way including the old cement works. Cycling is only permitted on the Southern track.

  • Length 4 km
  • Duration 1 ½ – 2 hours
9
ACTIVE SNORKELLING

Maria Island National Park actually includes a marine reserve. This area on the north-west side of the Island  fishing is prohibited. The sheltered bays attract boaties from mainland Tasmania attracted the large underwater caverns and tunnels of Fossil Bay. Explore the area around the ferry jetty however there is boat traffic so caution is required. Maria Island Marine Reserve.

10
STAY MARIA ISLAND

STAY overnight and relax into Maria Island time. Share your space with the local inhabitants the wombats whose favourite time of day is the dusk and lunch on the grasslands with kangaroos hopping by. For accommodation details check Maria Island travel guide for STAY options. NOTE: All accommodation on the Island is self-catering with strict regulations around the removal of rubbish. All sleeping equipment and supplies must be carried onto the Island for your own use and removed afterwards.

Travel Pack Information

The journey is worth it.

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