Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Discover Maria Island - A Guided Walk

Known as the Island of Inspiration, Tasmania is renowned for its magnificent bushwalking tracks. With more than 20 percent of the island set aside as protected land, there are abundant opportunities for scenic hikes through the countryside. These excursions range from short, easy strolls to challenging wilderness treks that cover an array of different environments, including white sandy beaches, ancient rainforests and rugged mountainous terrain. Highly rated bushwalking tracks include Cradle Mountain, Quamby Bluff and Liffey Falls. The Walls of Jerusalem, which is situated in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, as well as the South Coast and Arm River Tracks are also popular routes. Another impressive excursion is the gentle four-day guided bushwalking tour of Maria Island. Although you can fly to this World Heritage-listed national park, a trip aboard the ferry Spirit of Tasmania is more economical, eco-friendly and closer to nature.
The natural beauty of Maria Island is the perfect backdrop for an up-close glimpse of the island’s fascinating wildlife and plant species. The trek also introduces bushwalkers to Maria Island’s aboriginal and European history. The Tyreddeme Aboriginal people settled the island thousands of years before the 19th century arrival of European explorers. Home to a penal colony older than Port Arthur, Maria Island has hosted whalers, sealers and farmers. Today, it is a national park with no permanent human population. Taking the shape of a figure eight, the larger northern portion of the island is connected to the southern part by the 3-kilometer-long McRaes Isthmus. Each portion of the island has its own unique geological features. In addition to 14 distinct terrestrial plant communities, the animal inhabitants include red-necked wallabies, bare-nosed wombats and Tasmanian kangaroos as well as rare and engendered bird species, such as the Cape Barren geese. The clear waters offshore afford the opportunity to spot dolphins, seals and migrating whales.
After arriving by air or aboard the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, friendly guides will immerse you in the island’s cultural and natural history. The leisurely four-day guided walk includes accommodation in large tents for two nights and in converted penitentiary cells for one night. Dine on gourmet meals under the stars featuring fresh local produce and Tasmanian wine. Starting in Darlington, this guided outdoor adventure includes the amazing Painted Cliffs, convict cells of Point Leseur and historic French’s Farm. Stroll along the unspoiled sand of Haunted Bay, enjoy the vista from atop Mount Maria and visit Oast House, one of the oldest buildings in Australia. Tour other historic buildings, such as the former penitentiary. Built in the 1830s, the penal colony is now a World Heritage property. In addition to experiencing the views of the Fossil Cliffs, bushwalkers have the option of trekking up the slopes of Mount Bishop and Clerk.

A Tasmania walkabout with a knowledgeable guide is a wonderful way to experience the island. Hikers, walkers and other outdoor adventurers will discover why the four-day guided trek through Maria Island National Park is regarded as one of Australia’s best walking tours.