Maria Island off the East coast of Tasmania has everything. Pristine beaches, mountains and the most wildlife I have ever seen in Australia. From the moment we stepped off the small ferry from the little fishing village of Triabunna, we were greeted by wombats, echidnas, pademelons, bennetts wallabies, native hens and cape barren geese. We loved watching them chase each other through our campsite and at night there was always something going on, mainly possums checking out what the tourist had left around their sites or was that the screech of the Tasmanian Devil?
There are little trolleys to take all your camping gear to the site in Darlington as apart from staff vehicles the island is car free and big silver bin’s to safely stash your food and belongings away from the cheeky wildlife. The Tasmanian Devils have a collection of boots and other bit and pieces stashed under the many historic buildings in the settlement. If you want a hot shower remember your $1 coins, although on the wet overcast day, we were met with a cold shower.
With no shops on the Island you need to bring in all your food for your stay, but there is a camp hut with a fire place and BBQ’s. In the settlement there is also a mess hut with cooking rings, coffee machine, charging points and a table tennis table, so it’s a great place to hide out when the weather is bad, which is what we had on our second day. After exploring the historic buildings, we sat and drank tea with a fellow traveller Eleanor. The drinking water is rain water, so a purification system is a great idea to bring. We have the Camelbak UV filter bottle.
Maria Island has 3 of the top 60 Tasmanian walks which we did by both foot and mountain bike during our 3 nights on the Island. Like most places in Tasmania, would could have stayed so much longer with many more things to explore…but here is what we got up to.
Bishop and Clerk 11.5km Hike (3-5 hrs)
There are two peaks on the island Maria and Bishop and Clerk. Due to the weather we only had the opportunity to do one and the views from the top of Bishop and Clerk, made this the one to summit. The walk took us around 3 hours of continuous uphill through changing forests to a dolerite scree field, before a scramble up the square boulders to the top. It was such a beautiful day, we spent quite a bit of time looking across to the Freycinet Peninsula and at the sheer drops down into the ocean below us, before returning down the same path and having a picnic on skipping ridge.
Painted Cliffs, Reservoir Circuit and Fossil Cliffs Ride
We combined these three short walks into a leisurely afternoon ride on the first day. Jumping off the bikes to exploring the painted cliff rock pools, fossil cliffs and Oast House.
Exploring the Historic Township and meeting the Devils
The Island has a colourful changing European history. Whalers and sealers were here in the 1800’s before it became a penal settlement for the over crowed Sarah Island. After the convicts left, agriculture and manufacturing took over. The Coffee Palace has a wonderful audio about the changes to the island, you sit down in the replica coffee shop at the table to listen. Today the Island is a National Park and an important heaven for endangered animals, with the insurance population of Tasmanian Devils being brought here in 2012 and they are thriving. We were lucky enough to be on the Island the same time as the Save the Devils team and we headed out with them to the traps to check on the animals. What an amazing experience and such an important project in fighting this facial cancer decimating the population. In the evening they presented their work in the chapel, its promising to know there is a vaccination which is having some success and there are Devils which have immunity, but also sad to hear there is now a new variant form. We will be following what happens next to the future of these incredible animals.
French’s Campground Ride 21km (2.5hrs)
We brought our bikes over on the ferry, but you can also hire bikes from the ferry or on the island. The tracks are rough and sandy in places so we were pleased to have our mountain bikes on this ride to explore the stunning beaches at the neck of the Island and the campground building. We would love to come again and backpack down to this campground before heading down to Hunted Bay near the bottom of the island. We did this ride after our hike up Bishop and Clerk so it was a big day in the great outdoors.
We were so sad to leave ……
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