Maria Island

East Coast

 Tasmania

The Island

World-Heritage Abundant Treasure-Trove Fascinating Star Power

Above are some of the words used to describe Maria Island by people who have experienced it.

This spectacular island National Park is situated just off the east coast of Tasmania. It’s tranquility combined with its natural beauty, rare wildlife and fascinating history makes it a unique and special place. And on this award winning, 4 day gentle walk, you’ll experience all of it.

Maria Island’s pristine untouched beaches, the crystal clear waters of the surrounding Marine Reserve and scenery like the magnificent Mt Maria and Bishop and Clerk peaks will take your breath away. You’ll wander through forests of magnificent blue and white gums, some of them over 400 years old and unique to Maria Island. You’ll step back in time and walk where convicts and explorers have walked before you.

At the Fossils Cliffs you’ll see shellfish fossil beds unlike any other in the world. Maria Island is also famous for its abundance of wildlife being home to rare and endangered species like the Swift Parrot and Cape Barron Goose and of course, the Tasmanian Devil. It’s difficult to describe the beauty of Maria Island, you really have to see it to believe it.

The Wildlife

Maria Island has been described as Tasmania’s Noah’s Ark and not surprisingly.

The island has always been home to a variety of rare and unusual birds and animals and when a number of threatened species were released in the 1970s it became known as Tasmania’s Noah’s Ark.

Maria is now an island sanctuary and one of the best places in Australia to observe wombats, Tasmanian devils, Cape Barren geese and kangaroos and wallabies. The bird life is also an attraction with 125 species including all of Tasmania’s endemics including the endangered Forty-spotted pardalote and Swift parrot.

The exceptional wildlife is complemented by great interpretation by your expert guides.

tasmanian devil on maria island tasmania endangered animal native

Tasmanian Devil

Sarcophilus harrisii

Found only in Tasmania they are the world’s largest marsupial carnivore. In 2013 a group of 28 healthy devils were released on to the island as an ‘island insurance” breeding program safeguard from the facial tumour disease currently affecting 90% of the population. It has been such a success that devils are now being removed for reintroduction to disease free areas in Tasmania. Its closest relative is the kangaroo and its spine-chilling screeches and reputed bad-temper led the early European settlers to call it The Devil. However apart from stealing guests’ unguarded walking boots at night, they are a generally shy around people.
womabts on maria island tasmania native fauna

Wombats

Vombatus ursinus

Maria Island is one of the hotspots in Australia to view the Common wombat. Growing to 20-30kg the wombat is the world’s largest burrowing mammal. It is a marsupial and the mother’s pouch faces backward to protect the baby from flying dirt as she digs her burrow. The wombat’s closest relative is in fact the koala. With its short tail and legs, characteristic waddle and ‘cuddly’ appearance the wombat is one of Australia’s most endearing native animals.
eastern grey kangaroo maria island native tasmania

Forester (Eastern grey) kangaroo

Macropus giganteus

Standing over 2m tall and weighing over 60kg these superb kangaroos are the second largest kangaroo in Australia. They were introduced to Maria in the 1970s and are easy to spot on the airstrip and pastures at Darlington where one can see baby “joeys” climbing in and out of their mothers pouches as they graze. Forester kangaroos live gregariously in groups of up to 10 and females form close kinship bonds with their female relatives.
pademelon native australian marsupial maria island tasmania

Wallabies: Tasmanian pademelon

Thylogale billardierii

Maria is home to two species of wallabies which are now found in abundance on the island. The small, stocky Tasmanian Pademelon lives in thick forest undergrowth by day and ventures out into clearings in the evening. They are now only found only in Tasmania and their unusual name is of Aboriginal derivation. They are browsers and often seen eating our heritage lavender at Bernacchi House.
bennet wallaby maria island tasmnia native fauna

Wallabies: Bennetts wallaby

Macropus rufogriseus

The Bennett’s Wallaby which is found throughout in Tasmania and southeast Australia was introduced in the 1970s. Standing around 1metre tall and 15kg they are larger than the Pademelon and can be distinguished by their black nose and paws and a white strip on their lip. Babies called joeys live in the mother’s pouch for 9 months.
cape barren goose native maria island tasmania

Cape Barren goose

Cereopsis novaehollandiae

These majestic birds were once the second rarest goose in the world. Their traditional stronghold is the islands of Bass Strait but they are found all the way to Western Australia. Large and regal goose honks like a pig, rarely goes in the water and is absolutely gracefully in flight. They are vigorous grass eaters and have become synonymous with Maria Island since being introduced in the 1970s.
wedge tailed eagle front maria island tasmania

Wedge-tailed eagle

Aquila audax

One of the largest eagles in the world with wingspan of 2.3m these impressive birds nest and live on Maria Island and are often seen soaring in pairs around the island’s peaks. After 10,000 years of isolation the Tasmanian wedge-tailed Eagles have developed into a larger and separate subspecies to their mainland Australia relatives. They are endangered with only 200 pairs breeding in Tasmania.
white bellied sea eagle maria island

White-bellied sea eagle

Haliaeetus leucogaster

The second largest bird of prey found in Australia and a wingspan of 2m these beautiful big birds are not true eagles but large members of the kite family. They are frequently seen roosting in their favourite gum tree overlooking Mercury Passage or silently soaring over the beaches and cliff edges on Maria. They feed mainly on fish but will attack land mammals and birds as big as a swan. They are expert hunters and can spy prey on the water from up to 1km away! Maria Island is home to a number of breeding pairs.
native hen maria island tasmania

Tasmanian native hen

Tribonyx mortierii

Made extinct by dingos and increasing aridity on mainland Australia 4700 years ago these Tasmanian endemics are entertaining to watch and full of character. Nick-named “turbo chooks” by the locals these flightless chicken-like birds can run up to 50km/hr and when threatened flick their tail to warn others. They are very social and often join in unison with their rasping “see-saw” call. The word Triabunna where we start our boat trip is derived from a local Aboriginal word meaning native hen. The females often breed with harem of male, a rare practice in the animal kingdom called polyandry.
pardalote spotted native bird maria island

Pardalotes

(Forty-spotted, Spotted and Striated)

Maria Island is home to three species of small, forest dwelling Pardalotes one of which Forty-spotted pardalote (Pardalotus quadragintus) is under threat of extinction. With less than 1000 breeding pairs on the planet, Maria Island is the bird’s major remaining stronghold. They are communal birds living in white gums forests (Eucalyptus viminalis) so we see them regularly around our two wilderness camps. The Spotted and Striated pardalotes nest in burrows in sand dunes and embankments and forage in the eucalypt forests.
parrots maria island walk tasmania

Parrots

There are number of beautiful parrots on Maria including the critically endangered Swift parrot which migrates to Tasmania each summer and nests and feeds on the island’s flowering Blue Gums. The other parrots include Yellow-tailed black cockatoo and Green rosella.
waterbirds maria island tasmania

Waders and ocean birds

The island is great place to see Hooded plovers, Oystercatchers, Shy albatross, Pelicans and migrating Muttonbirds.
honeyeaters maria island tasmania

Honeyeaters

Maria is home to eight beautiful Honeyeaters of which four are uniquely Tasmanian.
native bird wren maria island

Other commonly sighted birds

Bring your binoculars when you join us, because the bird life is fabulous on the island and a number of species you wont see anywhere else.
seals at maria island tasmania

Dolphins, Whales and Seals

The boat trip to Maria is a fantastic opportunity to see some of our marine life. Dolphins (common and bottlenose) are frequently sighted in the Mercury Passage. Whales (humpbacks and southern right whales) migrate past Maria when heading north in May/June and again as they head south Oct/Nov. Australian fur seals are frequently seen and there is a significant colony of seals on a nearby island that in 1802 the French Baudin expedition named Ile des Phoques (Island of the Seals).

The History

Maria Island has a history that makes it one of the richest heritage sites in Australia. Many cultures have once been to the island, including the Tyreddeme Aboriginals, Dutch, English, French and Italians.

Maria Island has also been home to explorers, whalers, sealers, convicts, fishermen, farmers and industrialists, and their influence on Maria Island is still very visible. The World Heritage listed Darlington settlement is beautifully preserved and is one of the best examples of Probation Convict Settlements in the world. The Darlington convict settlement pre-dates the more widely known Port Arthur.

The island was declared a National Park in 1972 and is now home to only two park rangers.

A short paragraph cannot capture the unique and fascinating history of Maria Island. The best way to learn is to visit with us- our guides will be delighted to bring the island’s captivating history to life for you.

Darlingotn settlement maria island tasmania

Award Winning Island

The walk that keeps walking off with the awards, winner of multiple Ecotourism, Travel & Tourism, Business and Gourmet Traveller Awards, find out what makes this walk so special.

The beauty of Maria Island speaks for itself.

Join us on Maria Island for four days that will last a lifetime

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The Maria Island Walk acknowledges the Aboriginal Communities and Traditional Custodians of country throughout Tasmania and we recognise their continued connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to Elders past, present, and emerging, as we seek to understand their history, and learn from their knowledge.