3 days around Orford and Maria Island
Tasmania's island national park has abundant wildlife, natural wonders and rich history, with more treats waiting on the “mainland” at nearby Orford.
- Follow the Tasman Highway through the hills between Sorell and Orford, and pull 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 winding through.
- 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 two-kilometre 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.
- Synchronise to coastal time with a wine tasting at Darlington Vineyard, or a whisky and gin tasting and tour at Spring Bay Distillery.
- Overnight by the ocean at EastcoasterTasmania, 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.
- Take the morning Encounter Maria Island ferry from Triabunna to Maria Island, the island national park blessed with mountains, beaches, convict history, painted cliffs and teeming wildlife. Please note, the ferry runs less days from May to August and does not operate on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Wander the grounds of Darlington – mind the wombats – and explore the 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 two-kilometre walk to the whimsically patterned Painted Cliffs. Check the tide times - the cliffs are accessible about two hours either side of low tide.
- Return on the ferry, grabbing fish and chips on Triabunna's wharf before returning to EastcoasterTasmania or Twamley Farm.
- 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.
- For an afternoon on the water, East Coast Cruises runs half-day trips to the fur-seal colony on isolated Ile des Phoques, or along the coastline of Schouten Island off the tip of Freycinet Peninsula.
- 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.
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