Maria Island Ride

Cycle Tasmania, Mountain Bike Ride, Maria Island

A virtual wildlife bike safari on an island that has served as something of a Noah’s Ark. You’re almost guaranteed to see wombats, Forester kangaroos, Bennett’s wallabies and Cape Barren geese as you wheel through clearings between long stretches of bush. South of the ride described here, tracks continue across the isthmus and to Haunted Bay at the island’s southern edge, though they also become far more sandy.

Terrain

A ride in two halves: A rocky, undulating track across the lower slopes of Mt Maria to Frenchs Farm, then a flatter, smoother return near to the rugged coast. Mountain bike essential.

Traffic

Maria Island is vehicle-free (except for the occasional ranger’s car on the coast track). You might find some walkers on the tracks between Darlington and the Painted and Fossil Cliffs, but few venture beyond these two landmarks.

Access 

The Maria Island Ferry runs from Triabunna to Darlington, with Tassielink coaches between Hobart and Swansea stopping in Triabunna.

Food and Drink

Maria Island has no services, so bring all food and drink onto the island with you.

Side Trip

If you have the time and energy, park your bikes and hike up the Mt Maria walking track to reach the island’s highest point (711 metres). The view of the isthmus is spectacular from here.

 

More Details

Anchored offshore from Orford and Triabunna, Maria Island is entirely national park, and one of the few of Tasmania’s parks to actively encourage cyclists (though bikes are restricted to vehicle tracks and cannot be ridden on walking tracks and beaches) - bike hire is even available through the ranger station.

Inland Track

From the jetty the ride begins through Darlington, a township created as a convict station in 1825 (the Commissariat Store near the jetty is the island’s oldest building). At the end of the 19th century it became the unusual empire for Diego Bernacchi, an entrepreneur who built a cement factory, planted vines and spun together a silk industry. For a time he even marketed the island as the ‘Riviera of Australia’. Today, invariably, you’ll find the cleared grounds being grazed by Cape Barren geese. They can be stroppy birds but their honk is worse than their bite.

The ride turns in through a lovely stand of dry forest to pass the Oast House, which was variously used as a hops store, winery and abattoir. Beyond here the ride turns onto the bumpy, rocky Inland Track, which creeps slowly up the lower slopes of Mt Maria - you should notice a distinct difference in the vegetation on the dry north-facing slopes and the damp, mossy south- facing slopes. The Inland Track undulates consistently almost all the way to Frenchs Farm, the ride’s turnaround point. The old shearing shed last saw shearers in the 1950s, but there’s still fleece strewn about the floor. It’s worth wandering about the lawns because there’s often a wombat or two bustling about.

Coastal Track

The return track runs close to the coast though it’s rarely in view until you round the lagoon-like mouth of Four Mile Creek. From here to the Painted Cliffs the road hugs the rocky shore, where the wombats at its edges can seem almost as numerous as the sheoaks. The Painted Cliffs are Maria Island’s standout feature, with the sandstone splashed in psychedelic patterns; allow plenty of time to explore. Rolling through the macrocarpas back into Darlington there’s a good final loop out to the Fossil Cliffs, where millions of shells form the high, grey cliffs, which look out across the sea to the peaks of Freycinet Peninsula. To the east stand the dolerite quills of Bishop and Clerk. 

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start at the Darlington jetty (where the ferry docks) and ride south along the vehicle track behind the beach towards the Commissariat Store and Darlington.
  • 0.3 Veer right with the main track, riding beneath the macrocarpas.
  • 0.6 Just past the ranger station, take the road to the right, signposted to the Painted Cliffs.
  • 1.0 Turn left onto the track signposted to the Oast House.
  • 2.4 Turn right onto the vehicle track.
  • 4.4 Veer right at the junction with the Mt Maria walking track, following the sign towards Frenchs Farm.
  • 7.1 Turn left on Inland Track - South.
  • 10.7 At the end of the Inland Track, turn left on the main vehicular track. 11.9 Turn left into Frenchs Farm.
  • 12.0 At Frenchs Farm, turn around and return north along the main vehicle track towards Darlington.
  • 13.3 Ignore the Inland Track to the right and continue riding straight ahead.
  • 20.5 Pass the short walking track down to the Painted Cliffs.
  • 22.5 Opposite the ranger station in Darlington, turn right up the road signposted to Fossil Cliffs, turning again immediately left behind the white penitentiary buildings.
  • 23.4 Veer left at the road junction, following the signs towards Fossil Cliffs.
  • 23.6 Continue straight ahead at the junction.
  • 24.8 Pass the walkway down to the Fossil Cliffs; bikes are not permitted onto the Fossil Cliffs platform.
  • 26.3 Beside the Commissariat Store, turn right towards the jetty.
  • 26.5 Finish the ride back at the Darlington jetty.
  • Trail map

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    25.606 km / 15.911 mi

    Total Distance

    534 m / 1,752 ft

    Total Ascent

    534 m / 1,751 ft

    Total Descent

    163 m / 535 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Gravel
    Various
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    Ride Duration: 2-4 hrs
    Fitness Level: Medium
    MTB Segment: flow
    Terrain:
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    On-Road
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Limited
    Estimated Distance: 26.5
    Elevation Gain: 350
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber

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