The Hobart

How to Cover Maria Island in Under Seven Hours

by Zilla Gordon
How to Cover Maria Island in Under Seven Hours

My hiking boots lay forgotten on the sand. Next to them, my jacket and hat are hung off a piece of driftwood. Leggings pulled up over my knees, I’m standing calf-deep in the crisp clear water.

With 18km of walking behind me, an afternoon on Maria Island’s Darlington Bay is a tranquil way to spend a couple of hours before I board the ferry and head back to Hobart.

Maria Island, a former penal colony, sits just off the east coast of Tasmania and, while only small in size, its rich history and rugged landscape make it a desirable day trip.

It’s 5am. My Saturday morning sleep-in is taking a backseat as I take the front seat for the early-but-easy 75-minute drive to Triabunna.

Making it to the ferry terminal with plenty of time for my 8.30am departure, I check-in, and get a map of the island and recommendations of some walks that will have me back in time for the 4.15pm return boat.

The ferry ride is a smooth 45 minutes, and I’m eagerly looking out the window looking for signs of rain. Even though it’s summer, the forecast is a meagre 19 degrees with a high chance of rain.

So my trusty puffer jacket, gloves and a scarf are also in my backpack.

While the forecast was for rain, the weather was perfect

Three easy walks
Disembarking, I’m struck by the postcard-blue of the water, but I’m focused on heading straight to the Painted Cliffs.

While short in stature, these cliffs make up for it with their striking honeycomb patterns created when water dripped through and stained the stone some 200 million years ago.

It’s best explored during low tide, but it only takes a 40-minute power walk to reach the Cliffs at Hopground Beach.

I make it just in time for a quick clamber around the shell-like rocks.

While I could spend more time here, the incoming tide is fast encroaching on my path back.

The Painted Cliffs

After beating the tide to the Painted Cliffs it’s then onto the Fossil Cliffs walk.

Heading to the other side of the island via Darlington Township (where you’ll find overnight accommodation, bike hire and bathrooms), the walk is an easy stroll past crumbling remains of colonial cottages before the path makes way for an expanse of yellow-gray grass.

My breath labours as I head uphill, but I’m quickly at the edge of the towering cliffs.

Three-hundred-million-year-old fossils

From the right, the view takes in Bishop and Clerk and Mount Maria – two popular hikes, but both requiring more than the six or so hours I had to explore.

The fossil walk continues around to the left and leads down to a rock shelf.

The shelf is home to hundreds of fossils and I spot clams, scallop shells and coral trapped in the rock.

More than 300 million years old, the walk has some of the best displays of fossils anywhere in the world.

The view to Bishop and Clerk, and Mount Maria

Stopping for a few photos, I head back to Darlington via the airstrip and the seaside cemetery, which is home to graves more than a century old.

Although first established as a penal colony, Maria Island later housed cement works.

That’s how Tomas and his wife Rose came to rest there. Tomas died in an accident while working at the cement works in 1890.

Fifty-two years later, Rose was laid to rest next to her husband, becoming the last person to be buried on the island.

I break for lunch back in Darlington and head out on my final walk of the day – the Reservoir Circuit.

I’m struck by the change in flora. Although just inland, the path weaves its way through eucalyptus trees and the narrower track consists of grey-black sand.

It seems beachy.

The gentle path leads to a clearing by the reservoir, and while it doesn’t offer views spectacular as those on the coast, the chorus of croaking frogs make it a nice place to stop for a break.

Reservoir Circuit

Take Your Time
I’ve done a bit of hiking in Tasmania. Normally it’s a push to the peak. It’s sometimes only when you reach the top that you stop to breathe in the view.

Maria Island is different.

You explore, wander rather than looking at your feet to take your next step.

There’s no rush.

The paths are wide and well-kept allowing you to spot pademelons or wombats grazing near campsites.

Darlington – where you can book basic accommodation

Having made it through the three walks in around four hours, I’m again reminded that it’s not a race to the summit.

Instead of the predicted grey weather, the sun is shining so I brave a quick dip in the cold water.

At first I was worried that a day wouldn’t be enough.

Like all things in Tasmania, of course there is plenty more to see and do, but Maria Island has made the perfect day trip.

Maria Island is a National Park, so you’ll need a Parks Pass. Ferry tickets are $45 for adults, but only include 7kg of hand luggage so keep that in mind if you’re camping. There are no shops, cafes or supplies on the island so you’ll need to bring everything with you including food, a refillable water bottle, good walking shoes, weather-appropriate clothing and any first aid supplies – however limited drinking water is available; if you’ve forgotten anything, there is an IGA at Triabunna near the ferry terminal. Basic bunkhouse accommodation can be booked at $44 per night for up to two people, and there are free campsites around the island – book before you leave. If walking’s not your thing you can hire a bike for $33 a day. Maria Island is also home to furry and feathered friends – although you’re bound to see a wombator two, make sure you snap a photo from no less than two metres away!

Love this

Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close
Exploring Tassie These Winter School Holidays
We know that staying indoors with the family isn’t always fun. And while it’s obviously cold outside, you’re only a puffer jacket and beanie away from being comfortable and ready to explore. There’s lots of family fun to be had in all sorts of weird and wonderful places across the state these school holidays.
Sand Surfing on the Peninsula
The half-day walk to Crescent Beach in the Tasman National Park offers so much- including epic sand dunes for surfing and incredible views.
27 Hobart Friends Get Snipping For One Off Wine
The borders were declared shut in Tasmania on the 30th of March, 2020; the first stare to do so amid the COVID- 19 pandemic and hard lockdown of Hobart followed.
Danphe Nepalese and Indian Food + Peppermint Bay Bar and Bistro
Nepalese food is a comfort in our house. Having spent much time trekking and mountain climbing in Nepal as a younger man, Nepalese food is something I always love to go back to.
That’s DR Hannah Gadsby To You
From Smithton to Netflix and the Emmys stage, Tasmanian stand up comic Hannah Gadsby has forged an unlikely path. Following on from the massive success of her shows Nanette and Douglas, Hannah brings her new show Body of Work to Hobart this month.
PODCAST: Incat founder Robert Clifford on why electric boats are the future
Robert Clifford is the founder of Incat, a Hobart company building fast ferries for the world. Always looking to future opportunities, he has identified where Hobart sits in the next wave of transportation. For more of this interview listen to The Hobart Magazine podcast.
Is Tourism Ready For More Forestry Wars?
Tasmanian forests are special. They’re home to centuries-old trees, including the tallest flowering trees on the planet, and support unique native species. Yet not everyone agrees on how these forests should be managed.
Hobart Chefs: When The Obsession Becomes Real
Tasmania’s brand as a foodie haven is cemented. But within the local hospitality industry there are those who love to use local produce...and those who are next-level obsessed with it. We spoke to a bunch of Hobart chefs who are top of the game when it comes to fostering relationships with local farmers and growers.
Did You Know Australia’s First Female Doctor Was Hobartian?
Tasmania, despite its small size and population in comparison to the mainland, has produced more than its proportionally predicted percentage of significant figures and heroes of Australian history. 
Return Travellers Adding Pressure to Hobart Housing
For all of us 2020 was a year like no other, punctuated by rapid change and plenty of new challenges. For vulnerable people in Tasmania, including people facing homelessness, those on low incomes and those facing increasingly higher rents, it was very challenging. We are seeing a growing demand for homes in Tassie from international travellers returning home, people moving for work and others seeking the lifestyle that our Apple Isle has to offer.
Magazine
AboutContributeAdvertiseNewsletter Sign UpContact
November 2021

Stay up to date with everything happening at the Hobart Magazine.

Thank you to Luke Brokensha for mobilising his friends and local residents recently to host two rubbish clean ups along the Hobart Rivulet after heavy rains.
The warm weather returns...hello summer.
Need a laugh? Check out @theinspiredunemployed feed on Instagram.
Moto Vecchia Cafe in Bellerive and Czegs Cafe in Richmond have joined the Clarence City Council dementia program, creating dementia-friendly spaces for all patrons.
It’s hard to believe it’s not standard practice to have a working phone in every aged care room - shared phones make private conversations impossible and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Tacks on the tracks. Mountain bikers beware of tacks being left on certain tracks on the mountain.
Just when you think your cousins are alright. NZ Opposition Leader Judith Collins took aim at Tassie during her recent (unsuccessful) campaign, calling us Australia’s “poor cousin.” She also seems worried about us nabbing tech businesses, “It’s a lovely part of the world but do you necessarily want to go there with your high- tech business? Possibly not,” she said. We beg to differ!