Hobart, Tasmania is a great base for exploring the southeast of the island. From there you can easily do day trips to Port Arthur, Bruny Island, Maria Island and even part of Southwest National Park.
If you have a few days in Hobart, a day trip to Maria Island (pronounced like Mariah Carey) is a fantastic way to get your fix of history, geology and wildlife!
Read More: Our 3 week road trip around Tasmania
- Wildlife sightings of Forester kangaroos and wombats are all but guaranteed
- You can view fossils that are 300 million years old at the Fossil Cliffs
- You can explore the small historic penal colony of Darlington
- You can walk to marbled-looking patterns on the Painted Cliffs at low tide
- There are hiking and biking options all over the island ranging from short walks to full-day hikes
- Maria Island is popular for snorkeling and scuba diving
- For overnight visitors, camping is available
How to Get There:
From Hobart, you’ll drive north about an hour and a half to the small town of Triabunna. This is where you will catch the ferry to Maria Island. You can book online in advance here or when you arrive at the ferry port in Triabunna. When we visited their normal boat was out of order and they were using a smaller one. We ended up getting a ticket on standby, but to avoid happenstances like this, I’d book online next time.
Lastly, definitely grab the National Park map from the ferry port before you go!
If you’d prefer to visit via a guided tour, there are many options available. This tour offered via Viator is also available using Chase Ultimate Rewards points, starting at about 9,000 points.
Tim and I both have the Chase Ultimate Rewards Sapphire Reserve Card. It has a larger annual fee ($450 per year), but it comes with $300 cash back on travel purchases and access to airport lounges around the world (which typically range from $20-50 per visit without a pass). If you apply and are approved, you can earn 50,000 bonus points. That is the equivalent of about five tours to Maria Island. Note: I will also receive a small commission in points if you apply and are approved. Learn more here.
What to Expect
We didn’t do any biking or snorkeling on Maria Island, so this post will focus more on the hikes you can cover in 3-4 hours on a day trip from Hobart.
The ferry will drop you off in front of three large silos. From here, it’s a short 5 minutes walk to Darlington, but if you arrive in the late morning I recommend heading for the Fossil Cliffs instead so that you will end up by the Painted Cliffs for low tide in the afternoon (depending on the time of year and month). Don’t worry, you’ll still see Darlington on your walk.
Welcome to Maria Island!
You can take the trail heading left from the ferry port along the coast to see the cemetery, or cut inland behind the red farm building. Either way, this is a great area to see Forester kangaroos lounging around.
It’s 1 km to reach Fossil Cliffs from the ferry. The quarry is down below the main track. You’ll see the turn off marked when you get there.
Once inside the quarry, there are information boards you can read telling you about the ancient species you can see in the rocks. It’s not hard to spot the fossils – just look down as you walk or closely at the wall and you’ll see imprints of shells everywhere.
Can you spot the fossils?
Leaving the quarry the way you came in, you’ll then cut inland through the woods. This is where you have a good shot at spotting some more wildlife. There’s an offshoot on the trail that goes further and adds about an extra hour to your walk (Reservoir Circuit), but unless you have more time, continue on the Fossil Cliffs loop heading towards Darlington.
Once in Darlington, you can explore some of the old buildings. You’ll likely see wombats roaming this area as well.
From here you can then begin the trail to the Painted Cliffs. This one is 4.5 km return to and from Darlington and mostly flat. As a reminder, they are best visited at low tide. I personally found this area less interesting than the Fossil Cliffs but it’s definitely pretty and the walk is worthwhile. The marbled pattern on the sandstone is a result of the erosion on the rocks.
From there you can walk along the beach back towards the ferry port. Stop to admire the adorable wombats along the way!
What’s your favorite place for seeing wildlife, geology and history all in one? I’m a geek for learning and always seeking out those educational gems!