Maria Island (inexplicably pronounced Mariah Island) was a ‘probation’ convict station where convicts learned agriculture prior to their release, the site of camps of whalers and sealers in the early 1800s, the base for the varied enterprises of Italian entrepreneur Diego Bernacchi, and the site of the National Portland Cement Company.
Since the late 1960s Maria has become a kind of Noah's Ark, as a number of threatened species have been introduced here in a bid to protect their kind. The very things that made the island a convict settlement, now make it an ideal refuge for plant and animal species that are elsewhere under threat. So alongside native pademelons which occurred on the island naturally, are Forester kangaroos and Bennetts wallabies which have been introduced to the island. Cape Barren geese and Tasmanian native hens have also been introduced. The endangered forty spotted pardalote is found here in good numbers, along with the white gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) that is essential to its survival.
A ferry ride from Triabunna, the various natural and historic attractions on Maria could occupy you for a full day or more, but there are no supplies on the island so all food and drink had to be carried in. Provisioned only with a bottle of water and a couple of muesli bars we occupied three hours walking down to the Painted Cliffs.
Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Black-headed Honeyeaters, Yellow-Wattlebirds, Black Currawong, Tasmanian Native Hens, Australasian Pipits, Cape Barren Geese with babies … were among the birds seen.