Maria Island National Park
Maria Island is a natural wildlife sanctuary and off-shore retreat with historic ruins, sweeping bays, dramatic cliffs and plenty of stories to tell.
Located off Tasmania's east coast and accessible only by ferry, Maria Island contains the most intact example of a convict probation station in Australia. The stone Commissariat Store, 150 metres from the jetty, is the island's oldest building and is now a visitor centre with displays and information about the island.
The island offers excellent walking and cycling journeys. Short walks explore the buildings and ruins of Darlington – a ghost town with a convict and industrial past. The Reservoir Circuit is sheltered from the coastal winds and provides a glimpse of Maria Island's wildlife and history as you wander through open woodlands into a tall eucalypt forest.
A former limestone quarry at the Fossil Cliffs provides a fascinating close-up look at the many ancient creatures immortalised as fossils in the rocks. The Painted Cliffs at Hopground Beach are beautifully patterned sandstone shaped by the mineral-rich water and wind.
The peaceful beaches and shoreline also contain a wealth of fascinating tidal-zone marine life.
Bishop and Clerk, the island's towering peaks, can be reached on a 3 to 5 hr return walk past majestic sea cliffs, through grasslands, open forest and tall woodland to rocky slopes. Scramble over boulders to reach the summit and be rewarded with spectacular views of the island, Freycinet Peninsula and the Tasman Sea.
Maria Island is also one of Tasmania's great bird watching hot spots. Eleven of the state's twelve endemic species can be seen here, including the endangered forty-spotted pardalote and the rare and unique Cape Barren goose.
Wombats can be seen around the island, as well as pademelons, Forester Kangaroos, Bennetts wallabies and Tasmanian Devils.
The waters around Maria Island include a Marine Nature Reserve and are visited regularly by seals and whales. The abundant marine life and clear waters makes for spectacular diving and snorkelling.
Camping and accommodation
Basic bunk accommodation is available in the old penitentiary at Darlington, as well as free camping at a number of sites around the island.
Maria Island is a 30-min ferry ride from Triabunna, about one and a half hours from Hobart and 2.5 hours from Launceston.