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Maria Island National Park, Tasmania Overview

Sprinkled in the Tasman Sea, Maria Island is known for its scenic beauty. A kaleidoscopic blend of untouched coastline, amazing wilderness and mountainous backdrop, spectacular sights are the norm. The pristine untouched beaches blanketed with verdant hues and filled with wildlife wonders make the island a haven for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. With more than 10 convict buildings and ancient ruins, this intoxicating land is also listed as one of the Australian Convict Sites among the World Heritage Sites.

The entire area is dedicated to the Maria Island National Park, teeming with diverse flora and abundant wildlife. Escape from civilization and embrace the rare combination of scenic beauty, rich history and endangered species. Once a convict site in the 1800s, you will discover numerous abandoned buildings and each of the structures has a tale to tell. Covered in Eucalyptus forest, the national park boasts distinct flora and fauna, most of them native to Tasmania. Currently, there are more than 100 marsupial species that wander across. The grassland is also populated by the Forester Kangaroos, Wallabies and Wombats. With more than 125 species, the birds are an attraction in this park. It includes the Swift Parrot as well as the Forty-spotted Pardalote that is hardly found anywhere else. Hence, Maria Island will allow you to step back in time and let those imaginations run wild. Trying to express the intoxicating charm of this place in words won’t really do justice. You have to see it to believe it.

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Maria Island National Park

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Maria Island Ferry

The ferry takes half an hour to reach Maria Island from Triabunna. It operates daily and takes passengers across the Mercury Passage to reach the jetty at Darlington.

Price
Adult: AUD 45,
Child, Student: AUD 28,
Concession: AUD 39

Concession applies for Australian pensioners and Australian health card holders. You must bring along the valid cards to avail the concession.

Timetable
September – April (except Christmas)
Triabunna - Maria Island: 9:00 AM - 4:15 PM (every 45 minutes),
Maria Island - Traibunna: 9:45 AM - 5:00 PM (every 45 minutes)

May (except Tuesdays or Thursdays)
Triabunna - Maria Island: 9:00 AM - 4:15 PM (every 45 minutes),
Maria Island - Traibunna: 9:45 AM - 5:00 PM (every 45 minutes)

June - August (except Tuesdays or Thursdays)
Triabunna - Maria Island: 10:30 AM - 2:45 PM (every 45 minutes),
Maria Island - Traibunna: 11:15 AM - 3:30 PM (every 45 minutes)

Park Pass for Maria Island

There is an entry pass that is required to gain entry to the different national parks in Tasmania, including the Maria Island National Park.
There is a range of pass options that lets you experience the national parks in the best possible way:

Daily (up to 24 hrs)
Per vehicle (up to 8 persons): AUD 24,
Per person: AUD 12,

Holiday – up to 8 weeks
Per vehicle (up to 8 people): AUD 60,
Per person: AUD 30

Annual
Per vehicle (up to 8 people) – All Parks
New Pass: AUD 96,
Concession: AUD 76.80,
Renewal (within 6 months of expiry date): AUD 70,
Concession: AUD 56

Per vehicle (up to 8 persons) – One Park
New Pass: AUD 49,
Concession: AUD 39.20,
Renewal (within 6 months of expiry date): AUD 36,
Concession: AUD 28.80

Two Year Park Pass
Per vehicle (up to 8 persons): AUD 123,
Concession: AUD 98.40

Concession applies to Current Senior Citizens, Australian Pension Holders and Health Card Holders. You must bring along the valid cards to avail the concession.
  • The Holiday Pass range is an economical option that is valid for up to 2 months. It not only covers all the national parks but also offer free transportation in the Cradle shuttle bus.
  • For regular visitors, the Annual or Two Year Parks pass is a cost-effective option. It provides free entry for up to 4 vehicles as long as they registered on the address of the pass-holder.
  • Until 30 June 2019, the senior citizens can use a free National Parks Pass.
  • Educational group exemptions should be submitted 1 month in advance.

Maria Island Accommodation

There is only one bunkhouse style accommodation in the Penitentiary at the township of Darlington. It is rustic in every possible way. There are 9 rooms with 6 comfortable beds and a larger 10th room with a total of 14 beds. Washrooms are nearby and there is no power. Amenities include a wood-fired stove, a table and chairs.

Maria Island Walks

Bishop and Clerk Maria Island National Park in Tasmania
Bishop and Clerk, Twin Peaks at Maria Island, are one of the many places you can walk to
(Source)

Nothing can beat Maria Island for the sheer experiences it offers. The best way to take in the serene magnificence is to explore the region on foot. Walk along the remote beaches and witness unusual wildlife. It is designed to give you a taste of the serenity and tranquillity packed with adventure.

1. Darlington Township Walk
A guided walk around the township will give valuable insight into the interesting history of the region.

2. The Reservoir Circuit
This walk allows you to witness the vibrant wildlife and learn the history of the convict era. A walk through the lush woodlands and eucalyptus forests would give you the rare opportunity to spot the Forty-spotted Pardalote.

3. Fossil Cliffs
The Fossil Cliffs look spectacular and add to the beauty of the island. The walk will let you savour the panoramic views of Schouten Island and the Freycinet Peninsula from the top.

4. Painted Cliffs
A walking trip to the Painted Cliffs is appropriate during low tide. It features a unique sandstone cliff that is formed when the mineral-rich water hit the rock.

5. Bishop and Clerk
Take a walk through the open forest and hike the boulders to reach Bishop and Clerk, the twin peaks. This is a moderate walk but the last part might be difficult. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes and carry warm clothes because it might be cold when you reach the top.

Maria Island Tours


Fossil Bay at Maria Island National Park in Tasmania
Source

1. Aboriginal Culture Tours
Tour Dates: Easter 2019: Tuesday to Saturday (16th April – 27th April)
Timings: 11:30 AM and 2 PM
Price: AUD 25 (Children below 10 years are free)

For more than 50,000 years, the island was the home to the Aboriginal people. In order to get a valuable insight into the island, joining an Aboriginal culture tour is the perfect option. The Aboriginal guide will help you discover more about the Tyreddeme people and their culture.

2. Cruise Tour
Tour Prices (October to May)
Adults: AUD 225,
Concession: AUD 215,
Children (3 – 15 years): AUD 90,
Family (2 adults and 2 children): AUD 545

Cruise only (for those on Maria Island)
Adults: AUD 180,
Concession: AUD 172,
Children (3 – 15 years): AUD 72,
Family (2 adults and 2 children): AUD 436

Go on a cruise tour and explore Maria Island. The coastal cruise will take you to the Riedle Bay, Fossil Cliffs, Painted Cliffs, Ile Des Phoques seal colony and finally south coast.  During this tour, you can indulge in the local wines and a scrumptious lunch. The tour can be easily done from Hobart.

Maria Island Camping

Free camping is also possible on the island. There is a huge camping area adjacent to the barbecue shelter. The campsites are also available at Encampment Cove and French’s Farm. They have toilets as well as drinking water facilities.

Maria Island History

Maria Island is an escape into Australian past that is hidden in layers of history. It stretches to the ancient times when the indigenous Australians frequented the island in the summer season. The remnants from the Aboriginal people are visible even today. However, Maria Island is presently known as a former convict settlement for around two time periods, between 1825 and 1832, and from 1842 to 1851.

The convicts worked in different fields namely shoe-making, timber-cutting, cloth production and tanning. However, due to several disciplinary issues, the island was shut down and the convicts were transferred to Port Arthur in the year 1832. The site reopened in 1842 and farming was the primary focus. It was again closed down due to overcrowding.  At the beginning of the 20th century, Darlington was inhabited with residents and there were a number of hotels on the island. Eventually, these businesses failed due to the impact of the Great Depression in 1930.

Tasmanian Devil in Maria Island
Tasmanian Devils were brought to Maria Island to protect their population (Source)

Until 1960 Maria Island was used for agricultural purposes. However, a few of the animals were brought between 1960 and 1970 that gave Maria Island the reputation of being a sanctuary. It was declared a national park in the year 1971. In order to protect the population of Tasmanian Devils from the deadly disease, they were released on the island in 2012. Even today, the island is the finest example of the convict era in Australia.

Cycling in Maria Island

A cycling expedition is a nice way to explore Maria Island. You can always choose the trail, whether you like it easy or want to enjoy the harder way. In case you are not bringing your own cycle, there is always an option to hire. Cycling a bike is only allowed on the designated tracks and wearing a helmet is a must by law.

Price:
For one day only:
Adult: AUD 33,
Child: AUD 20,
For 2 or more days
Adult: AUD 25 daily,
Child: AUD 15 daily

Things to Do in Maria Island

Painted Cliffs at Maria Island National Park in Tasmania
The Painted Cliffs at Maria Island are one of the most fascinating geological features of the island
(Source)

1. Experience wildlife

The remote Maria Island is the home to a variety of Australian native animals. A grazing Wallaby and a meandering Wombat are the most common sights. And if you are lucky you might even spot the Forty-spotted Pardalote or a Tasmanian Devil, the rarest of the lot. Tasmanian Devils are known as the largest marsupial carnivore in the world. You might also get a glimpse of the Kangaroos or witness the Cape Barren geese wandering freely in the meadows of Darlington.

2. Explore the Painted Cliffs
The Painted Cliffs are popular for its uniquely sculpted sandstone rocks. Admire the rainbow glory when the sun paints this region with a bright orange colour. Visit the Painted Cliffs in the late afternoon if you are looking for colourful photographs. The cliff is immensely exhilarating and imparts an unusual comfort with its impressive visuals.

3. Snorkel or dive
The turquoise water around the enchanting island is a hot spot for whales and seals. The thriving aquatic life makes it ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving. There are chances of spotting cryptic creatures such as the sea dragon, seahorse, red velvetfish and warty prowfish. Maria Island Marine Reserve is a natural treasure and protected by the Australian Government.

4. Soak up the beach life
Maria Island is home to some of the most incredible beaches. Carpeted with soft powdery sand and contoured with rugged cliffs, these beaches are a slice of heaven on earth. A swim in the azure water captivates travellers and leaves them longing for more. Take a coastal walk and spend moments of sublime tranquillity.

5. Wander through the ancient ruins at Darlington
Darlington is reputed as one of the 11 Australian Convict Sites among World Heritage Sites, and looks pretty lost in time. This region boasts a wealth of historical gems rising out from the flat land. The authentic history is often complemented by the raw beauty of the environment. The old buildings of the convicted era look intriguing and offer unique photography opportunities.

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