The Maria Island Walk Wins Gold at the Australian Tourism Awards

The Maria Island Walk was judged the nation’s top Ecotourism operation at the 2019 Australian Tourism Awards in Canberra in March.

Owner Ian Johnstone said that it was an honour to have won the award, which came as our fifth time winning gold at a national level at these awards. The award follows a successful year for the walk, which also featured in Tourism Australia’s ‘Philausophy’ campaign and was named in Flight Centre’s ‘WOW List’ of their top 50 must-have global travel experiences for 2020.

The walk, which is in its 17th year of operation, is the ultimate in authentic, cultural, small group tourism and it is easy to understand why it is regarded amongst Australia’s top experiences.

We are honoured and want to say a big thank you for your continuous support.

To find out more about The Maria Island Walk, call us on 03 62342999 or book online.

 

 

 

 

Maria Island’s Painted Cliffs & Fossil Cliffs

Tasmania’s coastline is rugged and spectacular, and there are few places to better appreciate this than Maria Island. With unique and fascinating geology, Maria Island is a top destination for the geologist, whether professional or amateur. But not all of us are fascinated by rocks and the almost incomprehensible spans of time that went into making them. Fortunately for us, we do not have to be geologists to appreciate grandeur and be dwarfed by scale; sensations no visitor to Maria Island’s cliffs can escape.

The Painted Cliffs

Just a short half hour amble from Darlington, these picturesque sandstone cliffs are streaked and patterned with iron oxide layers, giving them a fascinating painted appearance. Requiring a low tide and calm seas for access, the tidal pools surrounding them make for excellent snorkelling. Viewed during midday, the cliffs are beautiful and intriguing, but come fully into their own on a sunny afternoon when the evening light strikes the pale sandstone, warming it to rich buttery golden colours and creating a photographer’s paradise.

The Painted Cliffs are made up of Triassic sandstone, when large rivers deposited deep layers of sand across broad flood plains some 200-250 million years ago. This sand was then compressed over time to form the soft rock we see today. The iron oxide patterning was deposited much more recently, within the last 10 million years, when Tasmania was experiencing a monsoonal climate. Extreme rainfall events leached out iron from the dolerite rocks above the sandstone, seeping into the softer rock through natural weaknesses in its layering. This very wet time was then followed by periods of extreme dryness, which drew the water back to the surface, leaving the iron oxide behind to be eroded and exposed by rising sea levels to reveal the patterns we see today.

The Painted Cliffs at Maria Island

The Fossil Cliffs

Perhaps the most visually striking place on the Island, no visit to Maria is complete without walking up to Skipping Ridge and the Fossil Cliffs. Towering over 100m in places and plunging straight into the ocean, cresting that final rise and looking out across the ocean never fails to make the heart skip and the breath catch. Exposed by weathering and erosion, and then a convenient platform cut out by an industrious limestone quarrier in the 1920s, the Fossil Cliffs provide some of the most prolific and best-preserved fossils you will see in Tasmania, if not in the world. Even for someone who is not particularly fascinated by geology or fossils in general, it is impossible to not be struck by wonder when walking over a whole cliff entirely made up of ancient shells.

During the early Permian, some 300 million years ago, when Tasmania was still a part of the supercontinent of Gondwana, an Ice Age developed, with ice sheets and glaciers forming over much of what is now Tasmania, levelling out mountains and gouging deep fjord-like valleys. Shallow seas penetrated far inland across much of Australia, and layers of mudstone and siltstone began to accumulate. In this cold shallow sea, marine life flourished, in particular bivalve molluscs, the most common and well known being trigonia shells. As these animals lived and died, their shells built up and compressed into the limestone layers we see today. In amongst the limestone and fossils, it is possible to see many drop stones, usually rounded and smooth from being tumbled and eroded by flowing water and ice. These are rocks older than the limestone, carried here by glaciers and icebergs and then dropped onto the shallow seafloor as the ice melted, being incorporated into the seabed and grown over by the bivalves.

The Fossil Cliffs played a major role in Maria Island’s much more recent human history, as it was the limestone here that brought Italian entrepreneur Diego Bernacchi back to the island in the early 1920s to open up one of the most sophisticated industrial cement works in the southern hemisphere. Although short-lived and ultimately unsuccessful, it briefly transformed the island into a bustling centre of industry, and also cut out vast areas of the cliffs, making viewing the fossils much easier for contemporary visitors. A combination of poor quality limestone, the abundance of super-hard drop stones that kept damaging crushing machines, remoteness, poor anchorage, and ultimately the Great Depression all led to the collapse of the cement works, but it has left a legacy that continues to fascinate visitors to this day.

The Fossil Cliffs at Maria Island

How to Get There

Take a four day guided Maria Island Walk to visit and learn more about these fascinating geological features. Contact The Maria Island Walk on 03 6234 2999 for more information or book online.

 

 

The Maria Island Walk Featured in ‘8 of Tasmania’s Best Hikes’

Tasmania is the ultimate hiking playground. Australian Traveller have shared their list of 8 of Tasmania’s best hikes, and The Maria Island Walk features.

“If you appreciate tranquility, Maria Island ticks all the right boxes”

Australian Traveller say “Pristine Maria Island, located off Tasmania’s east coast, is a place of historic ruins, rugged cliffs and mountains, breathtaking bays and wide beaches. It’s also home to a plethora of wildlife including wombats, Tasmanian devils, wallabies, eastern grey kangaroos, a number of unique birds and dolphins, whales and seals.

Hikers will spend their days walking this spectacular wilderness and their nights dining on three-course candlelit dinners accompanied by local wines and beer. There’s also an option to book a porter to transfer luggage between camps.”

You can read the rest of their article here.

To find out more about The Maria Island Walk, call us on 03 62342999 or book online.

 

 

 

Our Tasmanian Food Trail

Tasmania is synonymous with food. Renowned for its fresh seasonal produce, gourmet cuisine and fine wine, there is no better way to take in this delicious fare than a self-drive exploration of our island state, stopping to sample different areas’ offerings, discovering hidden gems and taking in our breath-taking landscapes along the way. Summer is the best time to feast on our seasonal produce, with different fruits coming into their own as the season progresses. December and early January is the best time of year for berries, with cherries ripening hot on their heels through January, apricots coming on towards the end of January and February, the grapes begin to be picked in March, and then the apple harvest starts in April and continues through May.

There are some hot-spots of gastronomic delight, and below is a ten-day itinerary to take in some of the best food the state has to offer.

Cheese and bread from the Bruny Island Cheese Co

A Ten Day Tasmanian Food Trail

Days 1-3: The Huon Valley and Bruny Island

Starting in Hobart, head south down to Huonville. With some lovely accommodation options, the Huon Valley is renowned for its apples. If in season, be sure to stop off and buy some fresh, crispy apples from one of the many roadside stalls. No visit down south would be complete without a visit to Willie Smith’s Cider Shed and Apple Museum, as well as the beautiful building that houses Frank’s Cider and Café. From Huonville, head south-east to Cygnet, stopping for a well-earned treat at the Red Velvet Lounge and to soak up the folksy vibes of this lovely little town. Continue on through the pretty villages of Woodbridge and Kettering and then board the short 20min ferry to Bruny Island. This lovely island is famous for its cheese, oysters and chocolates, as well as its spectacular beaches and epic coastlines. Be sure to stop off at the Bruny Island Cheese and Brewing Co, as well as pausing to sample some oysters. After an overnight stop on the island, head back to Hobart. No visit to Hobart would be complete with browsing through the bustling Salamanca Market, held every Saturday by the waterfront. Or, for a more authentic experience, visit the Farmers Market, held in the CBD every Sunday. There you will find local seasonal produce and the best gourmet products the state has to offer, all crowded together on one bustling street.

Days 4-6: The Derwent Valley

Follow the Derwent River West out of Hobart to New Norfolk, pausing to grab some fresh cherries from The Cherry Hut at Granton. New Norfolk is the guardian of one of Tasmania’s best gourmet secrets, the Agrarian Kitchen. Housed in beautifully restored historic buildings and boasting more raving reviews than many much more ostentatious establishments, the Agrarian Kitchen prides itself on ethical, locally sourced food prepared simply and presented beautifully. With warm friendly service and great wine, this is one stop not to be missed. Continuing up the picturesque river, stop off at the Westerway Raspberry Farm for some delicious Tasmanian ice-cream and fresh berries. There you can amble through the berry canes and pick as much as you can carry. There are fewer more pleasant ways to pass a sunny afternoon than in the raspberry and blackberry rows by the banks of the Tyenna River. After visiting Mt Field National Park, continue up to the historic town of Hamilton, where Jackson’s Emporium offers a delightful selection of curios and tasty food. Stop off at Two Metre Tall Brewery for an afternoon of pizza and beer.

Agrarian Kitchen and Eatery dining room

Days 7-8: Coal River Valley

This area, only half an hour from Hobart, boasts a plethora of wineries and the excellent eateries attached to them. Stay a night in historic Richmond and spend a few days driving leisurely from vineyard to vineyard. Some of the stand-outs are Frogmore Creek, Every Man and His Dog, and Puddleduck. Richmond also offers a market every Saturday which is well worth exploring, as well as having an array of cafes and an excellent bakery.

Days 9-10: The East Coast

A delightful combination of spectacular scenery and excellent wineries await the gastronomic adventurer along the East Coast. Passing first Maria Island, where visitors can enjoy the four day guided Maria Island Walk which showcases much of the state’s produce as well as local wines, continue north towards Freycinet. Some of the showcase vineyards along the way include Gala Estate, Milton (which produces some lovely dessert wines), and Devil’s Corner. Kate’s Berry Farm just before Swansea offers delicious food and sweet treats. Stop off at Freycinet National Park for some glorious scenery and several restaurants in Coles Bay. For a real treat, stay a night or two at Saffire Freycinet, one of Australia’s premier luxury experiences, and dive headfirst into the best Tasmania has to offer. Leaving Freycinet behind, continue North towards St Helens. Ironhouse Brewery, just before St Helens, is a must stop.

Tapas and wine at the Milton Vineyard

This itinerary is just a taster of the culinary delights Tasmania has to offer. With more and more restaurants, cafes, distilleries and farm-gate ventures starting up every year, it is hard to imagine a better place to embark on a gastronomic adventure against the backdrop of pristine wilderness and fertile farmland.

If you’re looking for an experience where everything is taken care of for you, including all of the transportation and accommodation, take a four day guided Maria Island Walk. Our guides prepare restaurant quality meals using local produce and each evening serve a 3 course, candlelit dinner under the stars complimented by award winning Tasmanian wines. Contact 03 6234 2999 for more information or book online.

 

 

Camping vs Glamping – What’s right for you?

Everyone knows what camping looks like, right? It’s a rustic pastime involving tents, campfires, badly cooked food and, usually, an absence of showers.

As is the case with so many things, this impression of camping is neither entirely true, nor completely false.

It is the reason why a lot of people would rather walk barefoot in a broken-glass desert than consider a camping holiday.

But what if they could go glamping, instead?

What’s the difference between camping and glamping? Glad you asked.

 

More than just names?

 

You’d think that changing a couple consonants at the start of a word can’t do much, and broadly that’s true. The ‘g’ and ‘l’ in glamping are derived from glamourous – so, glamourous camping.

Add glamour to camping and you make a new word, but not one that necessarily describes a new activity. Centuries ago European royals and Ottoman grandees were bedding down outside their palaces in, well, palatial style. And a fancy-camping African safari was quite the done thing in the 1920s for well-to-do Brits and Americans.

The word ‘glamping’ first appeared in media travel stories in the early 2000s. The Oxford English Dictionary included it from 2016. The debate among outdoorsy types as to whether it’s a good thing or not will continue forever, and is really by the by.

Like camping, glamping’s here to stay.

 

It’s all about nature

Let’s take a look – somewhat counter-intuitively – at what camping and glamping have in common.

As this fast-paced, crazy world gets ever faster and crazier, it’s widely acknowledged that we humans – especially those of us in developed Western nations – are losing our connection to the natural world.

What we’re gaining is anything but good: depression, anxiety, substance addictions, loneliness, destructive consumption and spinal problems from too much sitting around indoors, to name but a few.

Nature is the ultimate restorative, and conveniently it’s just outside.

 

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life,” wrote Rachel Carson, marine biologist and acclaimed author of Silent Spring.

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery – air, mountains, trees, people,” wrote poet Sylvia Plath. “I thought, this is what it is to be happy.”

Forget spa treatments and vitamin supplements. You just have to work out a way to get into the wild.

 

 

 

A certain quality

 

And thus you say: that’s all very well, but there’s no way I’m ever going to buy a tent, a rucksack and a camping stove. Even if I did I wouldn’t know how to use them, and by the way, do tents have USB outlets?

Okay. At a first reading it seems that you’re more likely to get into nature if you consider glamping. That’s cool – there’s no absolute right and wrong here.

Most dictionaries define glamour as an exciting or attractive quality, one that makes things – people, places or activities – seem more appealing.

All you have to do is determine what appeals to you.

 

For and against

 

For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume that your nature-based experience is going to include walking. (Strictly, this would make our comparison hiking vs gliking, but we’re sure you’ll allow us some latitude).

 

Camping

  • Cohort: can be done alone or with friends
  • Support: little or none; expect to be fully independent. You choose where to go, what you’ll do and how long you’ll stay
  • Preparation: will require you to do your own planning, booking, shopping and packing
  • Load: medium to high range (minimum typically 12–14kg; can be a lot more for a long walk). Will include a sleeping bag, tent, camping mattress, stove, fuel, all food, and all personal gear
  • Sleeping quarters: tent. Additional shelter: natural features such as vegetation and rock formations, or a lightweight tarp if you choose to carry it
  • Food: cooked yourself, fresh or preserved, depending on how much you wish to carry; alcoholic beverages served only if you carry them yourself
  • Bathing: creeks, rivers, waterfalls and oceans
  • Toilets: possibly at some camp sites, otherwise you’re, er, observing wild toileting protocols
  • Heating: none, or possibly a fire, if you’re in an area and walking at a time when fires are permitted
  • Price: low to medium range, depending on factors including travel distance from home and transport and any additional accommodation required
  • Additional notes: if you learn to navigate, you’ll have the opportunity to visit and experience trackless wilderness

Our glamping experience

  • Cohort: small group (maximum 10)
  • Support: high. Departures run on a fixed itinerary and all are led by two guides
  • Preparation: choose a departure date and make a booking; a gear list will be supplied and on departure day your guides will offer packing advice and assistance
  • Load: low range (6–8kg) unless you take heavier additional personal items, such as camera equipment. Includes lunch and personal gear. Portered – pack-free – walks for an additional fee available on some departures
  • Sleeping quarters: huts with beds at bush camps on nights one and two; fully appointed rooms in historic Bernacchi House on night three. Additional shelter at camps: communal dining tent
  • Food: Specially curated menu using gourmet Tasmanian produce cooked by guides. All fresh ingredients carried by guides. Wine served with meals included in trip fee
  • Bathing: outdoor showers and a ‘bathing cabin’ at bush camps; guides heat water for a quick clean/rinse. Modern bathrooms with hot water at Bernacchi House
  • Heating: gas heaters in the dining tents at bush camps; two wood-burning stoves at Bernacchi House
  • Price: medium to high range, in addition to factors including travel distance from home and any additional accommodation required
  • Additional notes: Complimentary pick-up at Hobart accommodation and drop-off either at Hobart airport or accommodation. Trip fee includes all road and maritime transport to and from the walk

For more information about The Maria Island Walk please visit https://www.mariaislandwalk.com.au/the-walk/the-accommodation/

 

What do the experts say?

 

Ian Johnstone is something of a paradox: he’s a lifetime independent camper/hiker who decided to start a glamping trip: The Maria Island Walk.

“I kept meeting people who said they’d love to go camping or hiking but didn’t know how to, and I also thought that Maria Island was one of the most beautiful and remarkable places I’d ever seen,” Ian says. “I knew that people would feel fabulous and rejuvenated if they had a holiday in such a place.”

It took a lot of work with Parks and Wildlife Tasmania to get all environmental safeguards and permissions in place, but the result was exactly what Ian had hoped: an achievable adventure and reconnection with nature for people who’d otherwise miss out.

“I’m not sure the word ‘glamping’ is my favourite, but it’s true that The Maria Island Walk is much more comfortable than camping,” Ian says. “I just love hearing from our guests about how much they enjoyed the island, and the walk, and how fab their guides were. That’s what we’re all about.”

 

The Maria Island Walk: CERTIFIED EXCELLENT

Tasmanian guided walk earns international award for its consistently outstanding service.

Hobart-based business The Maria Island Walk is no stranger to tourism gongs, having won eight national and a dozen Tasmanian awards over its 17-year history. But its latest plaudit – a 2019 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence – is especially satisfying to The Maria Island Walk’s owners and staff because it recognises their dedication to customer service.

Awarded annually since 2011 by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel platform, Certificate of Excellence winners include restaurants, accommodation and attractions from every part of the world. Recipients are announced once a year, in late May.

TripAdvisor’s Vice President of Brand, Neela Pal, said the Certificates “publicly recognise businesses that are actively taking into account customer feedback to help travellers confidently experience the most highly reviewed places to eat, stay and explore.”

To qualify for a Certificate of Excellence a business must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least twelve months, it must have received a minimum number of reviews and it must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five. The only way to qualify is to have customers who care enough about their experience of a business that they take the time to write an independent review on TripAdvisor.

More than 97 per cent of The Maria Island Walk’s TripAdvisor reviewers rate their experience as excellent. A recent example of this customer satisfaction comes from Andrew, of Melbourne, who wrote a review titled “Rare perfection”. “[The Maria Island Walk] has clearly put lots of thought and work into getting every aspect just right. And those aspects can be adjusted to the individual needs of each walker… Our guides, Luke and Tim, were exceptional. Clearly hugely experienced as guides, knowledgeable, patient but also excellent cooks and hosts.”

Amira El Kheir, the Maria Island Walk’s Marketing Executive, said the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence was “great news”, and that the business wouldn’t be resting on its laurels. “Everyone here is committed to making sure that every guest has an experience at the highest possible level. So, while we’re thrilled that so many guests over the past year reviewed us so well, our focus is on next year’s guests – we want them to enjoy the experience every bit as much!”

 

Family Friendly Maria Island Walk

An outdoor family adventure walking the length of beautiful Maria Island National Park is a great experience to share quality time as a family.

Re-connecting with nature, spotting a variety of incredible wildlife, swimming in pristine beaches and hiking to the top of magnificent mountains will create memories to last a lifetime.

In January 2019 we had three wonderful families join us on a ‘Family Friendly Portered Walk’.

“The guides were fabulous with all our kids’. The walk was a wonderful balance of nature, ruggedness and gourmet” Bennett’s family

“Fantastic guides – absolutely made the experience and did a great job with our kids. Kept them involved and interested. We went on the Milford Track in NZ a few years ago and would say this is a better experience – guides, food, accommodation and all the thoughtful planning around the walk were all better. ” Crossley family

“We were so lucky with our trip. Having a bunch of young girls of similar ages to my daughter really made the trip for her.” Hays family

Best time to book a family friendly walk

During the Christmas and New Year break or during other school holiday periods year-round. We offer our 4 day walk between October to April and a 3 day Winter Escape between June to August.

Age

Minimum age is 8 years old on a family friendly walk. Please contact us if your children are younger.

Price

$2,550 per person twin-share all-inclusive.

Inclusions

Includes 3 nights’ accommodation – two nights spent in our beautiful wilderness camps and one night in our beautifully restored heritage listed house. Transfers between Hobart and Maria Island.

All meals and wine (breakfasts, lunches and 3 course dinners). Two guides and park entry fees. Backpacks, 50L Gore-Tex jackets, head torches, sleeping bag liners and pillow cases are provided at the office.

If you’re searching for extraordinary family holiday, please enquire with one of our friendly staff on 03 6234 2999 or bookings@mariaislandwalk.com.au

 

White Kunzea at Haunted Bay

White Kunzea at Haunted Bay on Maria Island

During spring and summer, the Australian native plant Kunzea ambigua (also known as white kunzea, tick bush or sweet scented kunzea) can be found in coastal areas of Tasmania and eastern Australia.

The white kunzea shrub can grow up to 5 m high and it bears small white flowers which fill the air with a sweet honey scent.

Some of the uses of White Kunzea:

  • It can be made into an antiseptic oil for cuts and abrasions
  • The leaves and flowers can be used in cooking. The unique herb can be used on meats/roasts, fried in butter, in bread or added to a cocktail
  • Native animals are often found sleeping under Kunzea plants, where they seek relief from ticks and other parasites – hence it’s popular name of “tick bush”

Enjoy the scent of this beautiful native plant.

More information about the White Kunzea plant:

https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp8/kunz-amb.html

 

Tasmanian Devil article in the Telegraph

David Whitley wrote a nice article about Tasmanian Devils:

“The Maria Island Walk – one of the Australian Wildlife Journeys signature experiences – spends four days on the island, staying in glamping cabins and indulging in fully prepared local produce meals. And it’s not just the Tasmanian devils on the wildlife front. Walks along the island’s white-sand beaches bring sightings with playful dolphins and swooping sea eagles, while venturing inland brings birdsong-filled forests, plus encounters with wombats and wallabies.”

read the whole article here