Maria Island Magic
A national park off the east coast of Tasmania, Maria Island offers an unparalleled combination of wildlife, scenery, and history. The Maria Island Walk is the only outfitter that leads trips across the island and offers tent cabins and gourmet food and wine along the way. A private boat ferries guests from Triabunna to Cape des Tombeaux, known for aboriginal burial sites discovered by early European explorers. The landscape changes from Dr. Seuss–like rolling hills to the orange-and-white-striped Painted Cliffs (pictured) to the rugged peaks of Mount Maria, Bishop, and Clerk. By sunset, the island crawls with such animals as forester kangaroos, Bennett's wallabies, wombats, and spotted Cape Barren geese. There's also a new, albeit elusive, population of Tasmanian devils, free from the facial tumor disease that's plaguing the species on mainland Tasmania. Beyond hiking, Maria's car-free trails are great for mountain biking; ride through the UNESCO township of Darlington—which features a penitentiary that's been converted into a hostel—up to Fossil Cliffs and the surrounding coastline that's as wild and green as Scotland. The last night of the Maria Island Walk comes as a reward. Guests stay at the colonial Bernacchi House, outfitted with Victorian furniture and wood-burning stoves, and enjoy a comforting dinner of panko-encrusted salmon paired with local wines like Milton Point pinot gris. Inside, you feel warm and cushioned, but the wonders of Maria call from every window.
By Serena Renner, AFAR Contributor
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Maria Island, Tasmania 7190, Australia