Maria Island is in Tasman Sea, located approx 4 km (2,5 ml) to the east of mainland Tasmania (Australia). The island has total area of approx 116 km2 (45 ml2), length 20 km (12 ml), max width 13 km (8 ml) and highest elevation point (Mt Maria) 711 m (2333 ft). Local residents are mainly Maria Island National Park rangers).
Maria Island National Park is a marine reserve with water area approx 19 km2 (7 ml2) located off Maria Island's northwestern coast. The island was named in 1642 by Abel Tasman (Dutch explorer) after the wife of the Governor-General of Dutch East Indies (with capital city Batavia / today Jakarta, Indonesia).
In the 19th century (1825-1851), the island was used as penal colony with several convict settlements for mainly Irish nationalists. Some structures from this era still remain in the Darlington area. These are Commissariat Store (built 1825, now used as park's visitor center), convict penitentiary (built 1828, now used as tourist accommodation) and Bernacchis Creek dam (still operational, providing Darlington with water).
In 1830-40s the island was also used as bay whaling bases (Darlington, Isle du Nord, Whalers Cove, Haunted Bay), with many whaling ships also often anchoring off shore. In late-19th century (1880s), Diego Bernacchi (Italian businessman) launched several local enterprises (silk and wine production, cement factory, limestone quarry). In early-20th century, Darlington had population around 1000 (residents and hotel guests). Until late-1960s, Maria Island's economy was based on farming (with farmhouses also on South Island). In 1972, Maria island was established as national park.
As ship travel destination, Maria Island was first included in cruisetour itineraries offered by the Australia-based small cruise company Coral Expeditions. The 9-day roundtrip Hobart itinerary "Pristine Tasmania" visit as destinations Port Davey Bay, Bruny Island, Wineglass Bay, Maria Island, seaday, and Port Arthur.
Maria Island cruise terminal
Cruise ships to Maria Island (Tasmania) anchor near Darlington and transport their passengers ashore via the ship's tender boats or Zodiacs.