Darlington - day visitor facilities
The stone Commissariat Store, 150 m from the jetty, is the island's oldest building. This provides visitor reception, displays and information. Park entry fees and Penitentiary and camping fees can be paid here.
A ranger's office and public pay-phone are situated close to the centre of the Darlington settlement. Just behind the sand dunes of Darlington Bay is a large open-sided shelter with gas barbecues, coin-operated hot showers and picnic tables. Water and toilets are nearby. There are no shops on the island - you will need to bring all food with you.
Darlington Township Walk
The buildings and ruins around Darlington don't all come from the early convict era. Two separate convict periods (1825 - 1832 and 1842 - 1850) were followed by two distinct industrial periods (1884 - 1896 and 1920 - 1930). Each has left its mark. A walk around Darlington offer insights into that varied history. See our guide to Tasmania's historic places, and our factsheet on Darlington (PDF 532 Kb) for details.
The Reservoir Circuit 1 1/2 hrs return
This easy walk is sheltered from the coastal winds and provides a glimpse of Maria Island’s wildlife and history. This walk is one of the best places to see the Forty-spotted Pardalote. The walk takes you through open woodlands into tall eucalypt forest, and returns via ruins from the old cement works. The area near the reservoir is a good place for a picnic in the bush. See our factsheet (PDF 920 Kb) for further details.
Fossil Cliffs - 1 1/2 - 2 hrs return
The Fossil Cliffs offer an insight into the past environments of Maria Island. Extending along the northern shores of the island, these spectacular cliffs plunge sheer to the sea. This walk takes you to the edge of the cliffs where you can see expansive views of Freycinet Peninsula and Schouten Island. A former limestone quarry allows you a close look at the many animals immortalised as fossils in the rocks.
Be sure to wear sturdy shoes as the path can be slippery underfoot. The cliff edges can be hazardous so please be careful, especially with children. See our factsheet (PDF 608 Kb) on this walk for full details.
Painted Cliffs - 1 1/2 - 2 hrs return
A return trip from Darlington takes in the Painted Cliffs, just south of Hopground Beach. Best tried at low tide, this walk features beautifully patterned sandstone cliffs created by the movement of mineral-rich water though the rock, and by the later eroding action of wind and wave. The peaceful beaches and shoreline also have a wealth of fascinating tidal-zone marine life. See our factsheet (PDF 653 Kb) for full details
Bishop and Clerk - 3-5 hrs return
This walk takes you from grasslands along the edge of the Fossil Cliffs, through open forest and tall woodland, to the rocky slopes where you will rock-hop then finally scramble over boulders to reach the summit. It is a medium grade walk but the last part is quite difficult. Care should be taken along the cliff edge and on the boulders, especially with groups of children. Be sure to take adequate clothing as it will be cold at the top and rain and cloud can descend at any time with little warning. Wear sturdy shoes and carry food and water with you. See our factsheet (PDF 672 Kb) for full details.
Further afield are many other fine walks to places like Mt Maria and South Maria Island. For these walks and others please refer to Maria Island National Park: Map and Notes available from TasMap, or contact park staff.
For further information on the following walks, see our Factsheet series:
Accommodation and camping
Interior of PenitentiaryPhoto by Brooke Robinson
Very basic accommodation is available in the old Penitentiary at Darlington. This offers 9 rooms, each with 6 bunk beds and comfortable mattresses, a picnic-style table and chairs and a wood-fired heater. A larger tenth room sleeps 14. Firewood for use in the Penitentiary is supplied to a storage bay 150 m away. There is no electricity. Toilets are nearby. Hot showers are available in the amenities block near the barbecue area – these require 1-dollar coins.
You need to book rooms well in advance.
The large camping area behind the dunes adjacent to the BBQ shelter has plenty of sites. Fires may only be lit in the BBQ Shelter fireplaces, but a portable stove is recommended. Water is provided from tanks and taps.
For further details and costs, including bookings for the Penitentiary and camping, please see our Camping and Cabin Fee Information. Please note that bookings are not required for camping.
Campsites are also available at French's Farm and Encampment Cove some 3 - 4 hours walk away. Portable stoves are recommended for cooking at these two sites. Campfires are only permitted at Encampment Cove within existing fireplaces. Camping at both of these sites is free of charge. Both sites have water tanks and toilets.
Water in Darlington is supplied from rainwater tanks and a reticulated system connected to the old convict-built reservoir. Limited water at French's Farm and Encampment Cove is available from rain water tanks. Frequent dry weather and high seasonal demand make water a precious resource. Please use it with care.
Fires and firewood
Fireplaces and some firewood are provided in the camping area in Darlington. Please light fires only in fireplaces. As firewood is sourced from within the national park please use it sparingly.
Please take all your rubbish with you when you leave the island. There is no rubbish tip and no rubbish collection service on the island.
Tasmanian devils are primarily nocturnal. To give yourself the best chance of seeing a devil, plan to stay overnight.
Maria Island is one of the best places in Tasmania to go bird watching. All but one of the State's twelve endemic birds (i.e. those species only found in Tasmania) are to be found on the island, including the endangered forty-spotted pardalote. A conspicuous resident of the island is the Cape Barren goose, one of the world's rarest geese.
The diversity of habitats on the island ensures a variety of birds will be seen. Bring along a field guide and a pair of binoculars when you visit the island and you will be amply rewarded.
Take a look at our bird list for Maria Island.
Quality bikes are available for hire
Bike riding is a popular way to see Maria Island. Many of the roads on Maria Island are suitable for mountain biking and it is an ideal way to explore the length of the island. As there are no cars on Maria it is also an excellent environment for families with children to explore by bike. Cycling is allowed on formed roads only, and wearing of safety helmets is required by law.
Bikes (including helmets) are available for hire on the island. Maria Island bicycle hire is $25.00 per day, including helmet. The hiring of bicycles is on a first come first serve basis - reservations are not taken. Contact the island for details.
Note: To reduce the spread of Phytophthora, a disease which attacks our native plants, please ensure bikes are free of mud before arrival at Maria. If you need to clean them on arrival there is a wash down station near the jetty. Take a look at our information on where to ride and how to make the most of your trip - Maria Island by Bike.
One of the finest marine reserves in Tasmania can be found along the north-west coast of the island. Bring your wetsuit, mask and fins to discover the underwater life around the jetty and at Painted Cliffs. Of course, no fishing is allowed in the marine reserve.