Tasmania's island national park has natural wonders and a deep seam of history, with more treats waiting on the “mainland” at nearby Orford.
Day 1: Hobart to Orford
Follow the Tasman Highway through the hills between Sorell and Orford, pulling in at the Tasmanian Bushland Garden, a 20-hectare botanic garden planted entirely with native and endemic plants from the state's south-east, with several short walks.
Buckland's convict-built Church of St John the Baptist has a fascinating historic tale beyond its sandstone and mortar. Legend has it that the church's stained-glass window was taken from the famous Battle Abbey in East Sussex and brought to Buckland by the church's rector in the mid-19th century.
Hit the coast in Orford and head to Shelly Beach, where an easy 2km walking trail winds around Quarry Point to Spring Beach. Sandstone was once hand-cut from Quarry Point and used to construct buildings in Hobart and Melbourne, including the Melbourne General Post Office.
Stay overnight by the ocean. Options include Eastcoaster Tasmania, with dinner on-site at Spring Bay Restaurant and Cafe, or head back towards Buckland where farm-stay options at Twamley Farm include a converted 1840s stable and a glamping bell tent.
Day 2: Maria Island
Take the morning Encounter Maria Island ferry from Triabunna to Maria Island, the island national park blessed with mountains, beaches, convict history, naturally painted cliffs and teeming wildlife. Note: the ferry runs on fewer days from May to August.
Wander the grounds of Darlington – mind the wombats – and explore the Darlington Convict Probation Station and scattered remains of the grand industrial empire envisaged by Diego Bernacchi in the late 19th century. There's bunkhouse-style accommodation inside the old penitentiary cells.
From Darlington, it's a 4.5km return walk to the Fossil Cliffs, where ancient ocean relics coalesce in a striking display.
Return on the ferry, grabbing fish and chips on Triabunna's wharf. Pick up a hot cuppa on the marina, then take a stroll to see convict-era buildings on the Discovery Walk. Visit the Tasmanian Seafarers Memorial before returning to your accommodation.
Day 3: Around Orford
A morning in Orford brings more walking opportunities. The faint line of the Old Convict Road follows the course of the Prosser River through Paradise Gorge on the original, convict-built track between Orford and Hobart. Or head up into the tall gums and towering views of the Three Thumbs Lookout south of town.
Head north on the Tasman Highway, linking up with the Great Eastern Drive’s Grazing the East itinerary, and stop for cellar-door tastings at Boomer Creek Vineyard. Then pay a visit to the Lisdillon Saltworks, built by convicts in the 1830s and now a picturesque ruin looking across Great Oyster Bay to Freycinet Peninsula. A little further north, pay a visit to the modern Mayfield Estate Cellar Door. Taste boutique, small-batch wines and soak up vast views of Schouten Passage and the Tasman Sea.
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