Maria Island - Wildlife haven
Maria Island is Tasmania's only island National Park. Located 6 kilometres off Tasmania's east coast, it's just a 30-min ferry ride from the town of Triabunna.
The island has a rich history. It was originally inhabited by the indigenous Tyreddeme people and since then has also been a whaling and sealing post, penal settlement and an Italianate pleasure resort.
Maria Island National Park is natural wildlife haven and is home to the Cape Barren goose, the Forester kangaroo, wombats, Bennetts wallabies and Tasmanian Devils. It's also one of the best places in Tasmania for bird-watching with many Tasmanian endemics, including the rare forty-spotted pardalote and the Tasmanian native hen.
Visitors who enjoy scuba-diving will find a rich underwater environment in the marine reserve at the island's northern end. Even from the shore and cliff tops, visitors may see dolphins, whales, seals and sea eagles.
The now deserted settlement at Darlington, with its many historic remnants, once included a vineyard, a coffee palace and a grand hotel, all of which contributed to the promotion of the island as a pleasure resort.
There are many bushwalks to be explored on the island. Fossil Cliffs (1.5 – 2 hr return) provides a fascinating close-up look at the many ancient creatures immortalised as fossils in the rocks. Painted Cliffs (1.5 - 2 hr return) at Hopground Beach are beautifully patterned sandstone cliffs shaped by the mineral-rich water and wind. Mt Maria (6 - 7 hr return), the highest point on the island, and Bishop and Clerk (3 - 5 hr return) both pass majestic sea cliffs, through grasslands, open forest and tall woodland and rocky slopes and end with a scramble over boulders to reach the summit and spectacular views of the island, Freycinet Peninsula and the Tasman Sea.
Accommodation on the island is basic and must be booked through the Parks and Wildlife Service. Visitors can sleep bunk-style in the Old Penitentiary in Darlington or camp on one of the many level sites around the island.
There are no shops or cars on the island, however visitors can bring their own bike across on the ferry for a small additional fee. Being a National Park, entry fees also apply.
If you don't want to stay on the island overnight you can visit in a daytrip. The ferry to Maria Island departs from Triabunna, around a 90 minute drive from Hobart and two and a half hours from Launceston.