Our Latest News

A fantastic summer opportunity at Freycinet

12/09/2014

The Parks and Wildlife Service and Wildcare Friends of Freycinet are keen to hear from people that love the outdoors, enjoy meeting with fellow campers and are independent workers, for summer programs in Freycinet National Park.More

Copper Cove boardwalk ready for summer walkers

08/09/2014

A boardwalk along the scenic Coastal Track from Bakers Beach to Badger Beach at Narawntapu National Park has been completed just in time to welcome the influx of walkers visiting in spring and summer.More

Funding for walking tracks

22/08/2014

The Tasmanian Government has committed funding totalling $6 million for the South Coast Track and the final stage of the Three Capes Track.More

Fossil Cliffs

60. Fossil Cliffs

time 1.5 – 2 hours return, 4.5 km circuit
access A ferry operates to Maria Island. The ferry departure point is at Triabunna. For ferry bookings, timetables and further access details, see our "Visitors Guide to Maria Island".
See map
fees Park entry fees apply, ferry charges and camping fees apply
facilities Picnic, toilet and gas barbecue facilities. There are no shops on the island. Basic hut and camping accommodation (own bedding, stove and food required)
grade Level 2  Moderate with no steep sections
what to take Group B items
cautions Supervise children, hazardous cliffs, unprotected track edges.
prohibited Pets or firearms not allowed. Bicycles may be ridden on this track

This walk is in the Maria Island National Park and can be enjoyed as part of a day or overnight visit to the island.

Highlights

Along the way to Fossil Cliffs you will pass many reminders of the rich cultural heritage of Maria Island. Our web site has full details of this heritage.

Barn, Maria Island
Convict Barn (42°34'36.9"S 148° 3'56.4"E)
This large building was erected as a store for agricultural produce from the nearby farm, about the site of the present airstrip. There are two features unusual in a convict building: it was not white-washed internally, and it boasts a triple diamond pattern high on the external wall facing the Cemetery.

During the 1920s it became a machine repair and carpenter's shop for the cement company's railway system.

Cemetry (42°34'34"S 148° 3'57"E)
The people buried in this cemetery have been linked with the island in various ways over many years. They include James Jarvis, a child of six months, buried in May 1825, possibly the son of one of the early officers.

Hohepa te Umuroa was one of the lesser Maori chiefs imprisoned on the island for 'rebellion'. Aged about 25 years, he died of tuberculosis on 19 July 1847. Thomas Adkins was works manager of the first cement works and died in June 1890 while preparing a sample of cement for the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition. His wife Rosa (who was later to run the island's Boarding House) died in 1942 at the age of 94 years and was the last person to be buried in the Maria Island cemetery.


Fossil Cliffs (42°34'20"S 148°4'46"E)
The cliff exposure in the Fossil Bay area is recognised as the best example of lower Permian strata in Tasmania, if not the world. The dark grey rock containing the fossils consists of alternating beds of fossil-rich limestone and siltstone that is estimated to be about 16 metres thick.

At Fossil Cliffs you will discover the prolific occurrence of fossils of the thick-shelled clam Eurydesma. The soft parts of the creatures have rotted away, leaving only the hard shells,
Fossil Cliffs
Photos by Steve Johnson
which have lasted almost 300 million years. In some areas, almost all of the rock is made up by the broken shells of Eurydesma.

On the lower rock shelf you can see a variety of fossils including sea fans, coral-like creatures, scallop shells and sea lilies.

It is thought that such an extensive accumulation of fossils may be related to the cold conditions associated with the polar sea of the time. Amongst the fossils are some large rocks, called dropstones. These have been transported by floating ice. As the ice begins to melt, the stones fall to the sea floor and settle amongst the finer sediments. The stones consist of different rock types, including granite and quartzite, and may have come from nearby, or from great distances away.