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Van-ture Awaits: Maria Island Unleashed with an Off Road Twist!

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Maria Island, located off the eastern coast of Tasmania, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. This pristine island is renowned for its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a plethora of outdoor activities. The only way to explore this natural wonder is by foot, which allows you to experience the island's beauty at your own pace. In this travel story, we'll take you through some of the must-visit Maria Island activities and provide you with essential tips on how to get there.

Painted Cliffs at Maria Island in Tasmania
Credit: Tourism Tasmania & Popp Hackner Photography

Getting to Maria Island

  1. Hobart to Triabunna: Start your journey in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania. From there, drive to Triabunna, the gateway to Maria Island. It's approximately a 1.5-hour drive from Hobart to Triabunna.

  2. Parking and Ferry: There is secure parking available in Triabunna for your vehicle. You can catch the Maria Island ferry from Triabunna, which takes around 30 minutes. Make sure to book your ferry tickets in advance.

  3. On the Island: Maria Island is a car-free island, so once you arrive, you'll need to explore on foot, by bike, or by taking a guided tour. Consider renting a bike to make the most of your visit.

Why Visit Maria Island?

Maria Island offers a unique blend of natural beauty, history, and outdoor recreation. This car-free, national park island is a paradise for those seeking an unspoiled environment. Here are some of the top attractions and activities:

Maria Island's Wildlife

Cape Barren Goose on Maria Island displaying its wings
Cape Barren Goose - Credit: Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett

Maria Island, a sanctuary for wildlife off the coast of Tasmania, offers a diverse range of animal encounters for nature enthusiasts. While exploring this car-free national park, visitors can look forward to encountering a remarkable variety of creatures that call the island home. From the charming marsupials to the island's abundant avian population, Maria Island is a true haven for wildlife enthusiasts.

Mother wonbat and her baby seen grazing in front of tent's entrance on Maria island in Tasmania
Credit: Jamie Douros & Camille Helm

Wallabies and kangaroos are a common sight, often seen grazing in open meadows or hopping gracefully along the island's trails. Wombats, with their endearing and somewhat comical appearance, can be spotted during both day and night. The avian diversity on Maria Island is equally impressive, with various bird species, including Cape Barren geese, sea eagles, and the rare forty-spotted pardalote, making their home on the island. Beyond the land, the surrounding waters are teeming with marine life, making it an excellent location for snorkeling and diving.

Beneath the waves, you may encounter a rich assortment of aquatic life, such as seals, dolphins, and a vibrant array of fish species. Whether you're exploring the island's lush landscapes or venturing underwater, Maria Island offers a remarkable opportunity to connect with and appreciate its extraordinary wildlife. Maria Island's Historical Sites One of the most prominent historical sites on Maria Island is Darlington, which was established as a convict probation station in 1825. Today, Darlington is a designated World Heritage site, and it showcases a range of well-preserved buildings and structures from the convict era. The picturesque township is set against a backdrop of rolling hills and sparkling beaches, creating a captivating juxtaposition between history and natural beauty. Some of the key historical features in Darlington include the Commissariat Store, the Penitentiary, the Convict Barn, and the Separate Prison. Each of these buildings tells a story of the island's past and the harsh conditions faced by convicts who were sent here.

Commissariat Store on maria island with a couple looking at sunset
Commissariat Store - Credit: Stu Gibson

The Commissariat Store, for example, was used to store supplies for the settlement and has been restored to its former glory. The Penitentiary, with its impressive stone walls, was where convicts lived and worked. The Convict Barn, a large sandstone building, served as a storehouse for food and supplies. The Separate Prison is an intriguing structure where solitary confinement was used as a method of punishment.

Visitors to Maria Island can take guided tours of these historic sites, where knowledgeable guides provide insights into the island's convict history, the stories of individuals who lived here, and the challenges they faced. The preservation and accessibility of these historical sites offer a unique educational and immersive experience, making Maria Island a destination that appeals to both history enthusiasts and nature lovers.

drone shot of Maria island beach
Credit: Tourism Australia

In addition to the convict-era history, Maria Island also holds significance for its Aboriginal heritage. The island is home to ancient Aboriginal cultural sites, such as shell middens, which provide insights into the traditional lifestyle of the indigenous people who once inhabited the island. The Aboriginal name for Maria Island is "Tasikuna." . The name "Tasikuna" reflects its importance in Aboriginal history and is an integral part of the island's cultural heritage.

How to get around?

Mountain biking on Maria Island tasmania
Credit: Liam Neal

Cycling on Maria Island Cycling on Maria Island, or "Tasikuna", is an exhilarating way to explore the island's breathtaking natural beauty and historical sites. With its well-maintained tracks and car-free status, Maria Island is a cyclist's paradise. The network of trails takes you through lush forests, past pristine beaches, and alongside the island's iconic cliffs. Cycling allows you to cover more ground and reach remote areas that might be inaccessible on foot. From leisurely rides for beginners to challenging routes for experienced riders, Maria Island caters to all levels of cycling enthusiasts. To make the most of your cycling adventure on Maria Island, consider visiting during the summer months, but also keep in mind the milder spring and autumn seasons. Renting a bicycle on the mainland and booking ferry tickets in advance is recommended.

Bushwalking on Maria Island

Women bushwalking on maria island in tasmania
Credit: JABProduction

Exploring Maria Island through bushwalking is a captivating and immersive experience that allows you to delve into its pristine natural landscapes and historical sites. The island boasts a network of well-maintained walking trails that cater to all levels of hikers, from leisurely strolls to more challenging hikes. These trails wind through dense eucalyptus forests, open meadows, and along stunning coastal cliffs, offering breathtaking vistas of the surrounding seas.

Why renting a van to Maria Island is the way to go!

Renting a van to travel to Maria Island offers numerous advantages that enhance your overall experience. First and foremost, a van provides you with the freedom and flexibility to explore the island at your own pace. There is so much to explore alongside such as the Tasman Peninsula and Freycinet which are both about an hour away. You can choose your own schedule, visit attractions as you please, and linger at the places that captivate you most. This level of autonomy allows you to immerse yourself in the island's beauty and natural wonders without the constraints of guided tours or public transportation schedules.

"Our favorite van to explore Maria Island is lutruwita"

Moreover, a van offers both convenience and comfort. You can store all your camping and outdoor gear, making it easy to access everything you need for a day of hiking, snorkeling, or wildlife watching. It also provides shelter and a comfortable place to rest if the weather takes an unexpected turn. Our vans come equipped with the amenities you need for a comfortable stay, such as sleeping areas and kitchen facilities, enabling you to enjoy a self-sufficient camping experience during your visit in Tasmania. With a van, you have all the conveniences of home while surrounded by Tasmania's stunning landscapes, making your visit an unforgettable and comfortable adventure.

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