Want to spend a day frolicking with kangaroos, spotting wombats, and searching for fossils? Ok duh of course you do! And a day trip to Maria Island, off the coast of Tasmania, is the perfect way to do it. Even better, Maria Island is an easy day trip from Tasmania’s capital city of Hobart!
If you have a few days in Hobart, a day trip to Maria Island (pronounced like Mariah Carey) is a fantastic way to get your fix of history, geology, and wildlife!
Why Make a Day Trip to Maria Island
- Wildlife sightings of Forester kangaroos and wombats are all but guaranteed
- You can view fossils that are 300 million years old at the Fossil Cliffs
- You can explore the small historic penal colony of Darlington
- There are hiking and biking options all over the island ranging from short walks to full-day hikes
- Maria Island is popular for snorkeling and scuba diving
- You can walk to marbled-looking patterns on the Painted Cliffs at low tide
- For overnight visitors, camping is available
How to Get to Maria Island from Hobart
From Hobart, you’ll drive north about an hour and a half to the small town of Triabunna. This is where you will catch the ferry to Maria Island. You can book online in advance here or when you arrive at the ferry port in Triabunna. When we visited, their normal boat was out of order and they were using a smaller one. We ended up getting a ticket on standby, but to avoid happenstances like this, I’d book online next time. Lastly, definitely grab the National Park map from the ferry port before you go!
Hikes to Do on a Maria Island Day Trip
We didn’t do any biking or snorkeling on Maria Island (though these are both options!), so instead, I’ll focus on the hikes you can cover in 3-4 hours on a day trip from Hobart.
The ferry will drop you off in front of three large silos. From here, it’s a short 5 minutes walk to Darlington.
Tip: if you arrive in the late morning I recommend heading for the Fossil Cliffs instead so that you will end up by the Painted Cliffs for low tide in the afternoon (depending on the time of year and month). Don’t worry, you’ll still see Darlington on your walk. Welcome to Maria Island!
You can take the trail heading left from the ferry port along the coast to see the cemetery or cut inland behind the red farm building. Either way, this is a great area to see Forester kangaroos lounging around. It’s 1 km to reach Fossil Cliffs from the ferry. The quarry is down below the main track. You’ll see the turn off marked when you get there.
Once inside the quarry, there are information boards you can read telling you about the ancient species you can see in the rocks. It’s not hard to spot the fossils – just look down as you walk or closely at the wall and you’ll see imprints of shells everywhere.
Leaving the quarry the way you came in, you’ll then cut inland through the woods. This is where you have a good shot at spotting some more wildlife.
There’s an offshoot on the trail that goes further and adds about an extra hour to your walk (Reservoir Circuit), but unless you have more time, continue on the Fossil Cliffs loop heading towards Darlington. Once in Darlington, you can explore some of the old buildings. You’ll likely see wombats roaming this area as well.
From Darlington, you can then begin the trail to the Painted Cliffs. This one is 4.5 km return to and from Darlington and mostly flat. As a reminder, they are best visited at low tide. I personally found this area less interesting than the Fossil Cliffs but it’s definitely pretty and the walk is worthwhile. The marbled pattern on the sandstone is a result of the erosion on the rocks. From there you can walk along the beach back towards the ferry port. Stop to admire the adorable wombats along the way!
More Australia Travel Tips
And if you’re feeling adventurous, consider completing the summit hike of Cradle Mountain, just a few hours from Hobart.
If you plan on an in-depth exploration of Western Australia, make sure you check out (and bookmark!) my super-detailed Perth to Darwin road trip itinerary.
And while you’re in Perth, make sure you visit Rottnest Island on a day trip and spot adorable quokkas!
If you want to snorkel with manta rays or whale sharks (or both!) the Ningaloo Reef is the place to do it. My guide on snorkeling with whale sharks and manta rays has all the details.
If you’re heading all the way to the northern region of Western Australia, I highly recommend visiting Purnululu National Park and splurging on a scenic flight over the Bungle Bungle Range. My guide covers everything you need to know to make this bucket-list-worthy adventure happen!
Have a specific question about this Maria Island day trip or anything Australia? Leave a comment below or contact me!