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Call for volunteer caretakers for Maatsuyker Island

09/12/2016

The Parks and Wildlife Service is seeking volunteer caretakers for the coming two years on the remote and spectacular Maatsuyker Island in Tasmania's south-west.More

Update on work to restore access to flood-affected sites

23/11/2016

The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is continuing repair work to restore access to sites affected by the June flood event.More

Maria Island ferry service will unlock tourism opportunities

22/11/2016

The Tasmanian Government has secured a new, year-round regular passenger ferry service to Maria Island National Park, which will help the island fulfil its potential to be one of the state's best tourism attractions.More

Painted Cliffs

59. Painted Cliffs

time 1.5 - 2 hours return, 4.4 km one way
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 grade with no steep sections
what to take Group A items
cautions Supervise children, unpatrolled beaches, unprotected edges at cliffs
prohibited Pets or firearms not allowed. Bicycles may be ridden on the formed road sections of the walk but not on the beaches or foot track areas

This walk is on Maria Island and can be enjoyed as part of a day or overnight visit to the island. The Painted Cliffs are best visited at or around low tide to allow safe access  around the rock platform adjacent to the cliffs. Visitors can return via the Oast House where hop kilns were built sometime before 1845.

Day visitors could combine the walk with another Great Short Walk, the Fossil Cliffs walk and/or exploring the historic Darlington area.

Highlights

Painted Cliffs, Maria Island
(Photo by Steve Johnson)

Painted Cliffs (42º 35' 33"S  148º 03' 05"E)
The geology of Maria Island is of great interest as it contains features from many geological ages. The Triassic sandstones of the Painted Cliffs is one such feature.

Although this sort of rock formation is not uncommon, it is rare in a natural situation for it to be so extensively and beautifully exposed. The wonderful patterns are caused by ground water percolating down through the already formed sandstone and leaving traces of iron oxides, which have stained the rock formation. This probably occurred millions of years ago in a monsoonal climate.

More recently, sea spray hitting the rock face has dried, forming crystals of salt. These crystals cause the rock to weather in the honeycomb patterns that you see. Wave action has also created some interesting features. Rock fragments moved around by the water have gradually worn small potholes and notches into the cliff face, eventually resulting in the undercutting of the cliff. This is a continual process and as you walk further along you can see how quite recently the cliff top has collapsed, plunging sandstone blocks and she-oaks down to the sea.

This is a very fragile environment so please do not walk on the cliffs or scratch the formation.

Oast House (42º 35' 26"S  148º 03' 36"E)
Oast House
(Photo by PWS)

The Oast House was been built during the second convict period in either 1844 or 1845, making it one of the oldest oast houses in Australia. Oast houses are hop kilns used for the drying of hops. The surrounding area was first developed into hop fields during the first convict period (1825-1832) and subsequently expanded.

The original building has two large brick drying-towers with floors of ventilating bricks which can still be seen among the ruins. The building was later modified, and has been used for crushing grapes and, later, as an abattoir.