Maria Island National Park

darlington anchorage  

The best part of Maria Island National Park for us was its sheer natural beauty. One of Tasmania's 60 Great Short Walks, the Painted Cliffs Circuit was high on our list of must-sees and since it's best viewed at low tide, we headed there first.

The sky was a deep cerulean blue and cloudless. The water in the Mercury Passage glistened in the sunlight. As we ascended a gentle slope, we had spectacular views of the anchorage and the historic buildings below.


maria_painted cliffs


The path ended at the southern end of Hopground Beach where we could just begin to see the sandstone outcrops known as the Painted Cliffs. As we walked in the white beach sand and edged closer, the exquisite patterns of the sandstone became apparent and were magnificent. Caused by iron oxides in the groundwater that leach through the sandstone, the colors and designs were a work of art. Ragged overhangs eroded by the sea and time formed a canopy of extraordinary natural beauty.


maria island_butterfly geitoneura klugi


We continued the circuit up rolling hills, through open bush and a eucalypt forest. The air smelled fresh and clean. Birds were singing and butterflies (geitoneura klugi) numbered in the hundreds.. The island is considered to be one of the key places in Tasmania to observe forest birds. We picnicked and birdwatched, hoping to observe a rare forty-spotted pardalote, but no luck We did see native green rosellas, fantails and robins. Tasmanian native hens and Cape Barren geese seemed to be everywhere.


maria_cape barren geese


The island has become a sanctuary for endangered animals. Healthy Tasmanian devils were released here in November 2012. Bennett's wallabies, eastern grey kangaroos, potoroos, bandicoots, wombats, Tasmanian pademelons, echidnas and possum all wander and thrive here in relative peace.


maria_bennetts wallaby2


We saw only wallabies on our hike. They seemed unbothered with our presence for the most part. We stared at them and took photos...they stared back. Dawn and dusk are the best times for observing most of these critters and being here at mid-day did nothing to improve our chances of spotting wildlife.


maria_painted cliffs del


As usual, we ran out of time before we ran out of things to do. Between photographing vistas, butterflies and wallabies, strolling, birdwatching and picnicking, we whiled away the entire day. No regrets. The forecast is calling for a couple of days of light easterlies and we'll return to Chinaman's Bay for some exploration of the southern part of the island.


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