Secret Aussie island no one knows about: Maria Island, Tasmania

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Four Mile Beach is one of those special Aussie beaches with everything you need to feel serene. Mountains line the horizon, calm water laps the shore and the sun sets on the water.

Even better, the only way to get to this secret spot on Maria Island is by boat from the Tasmanian mainland and then by foot, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to have it to yourself.

Wading in after a long day of hiking, the icy Tassie water is the perfect tonic to sore feet and legs. Then, when the sun was down, the spot was incredible for stargazing with clear views of the Milky Way the night I was there.

Camping at Four Mile Beach is only reserved for those lucky enough to go on the guided Maria Island Walk, one of the Great Walks of Australia, which takes guests to all of the best beaches that can only be accessed by foot.

The four-day, three-night guided walk is undoubtedly the best way to see the island and if the idea of a multi-day hike brings up visions of roughing it – then think again. There is a lot of hiking – between 10km and 16km each day – so you need to be fit but the campsites are more like mini resorts with gourmet food, wine and comfy cabins.

Somehow, in basic kitchens our guides cooked up focaccia bread, saffron risotto and marinated quail. There was also plenty of Tasmanian cheese and wine – much appreciated after a day of physical activity.

I did the island hike in April as the weather was turning colder and the nights were closing in but we still got beautiful sunny days, perfect conditions for hiking and taking in the stunning views.

Maria Island was once a probation station for convicts and prior to that was an important Aboriginal site. Today, it has national park status which means nature has been allowed to flourish in a way not often seen. Rare blonde wombats roam the grasslands and Tasmanian devils have been allowed to thrive.

There are very few buildings on the island and the ‘town’ of Darlington is merely a few colonial buildings and a port for the public ferry which comes a few times a day.

The phone signal is patchy at best, making Maria Island the perfect place to go for a digital detox. If Tasmania feels quiet to city folk like myself then Maria Island is next level.

The four-day tour involves walking the length of the island with much of it across flat beaches with stunning vistas out to the ocean. Each day is set out for you – lunch box, snacks and hot tea included – so the only worry was putting one foot in front of the other.

For me, the highlight of the Maria Island Walk was tackling Bishop and Clerk, a challenging hike to the top of a towering dolerite summit. This hike is less than six kilometres but can take up to five hours – with the last hour involving a lot of scrambling over rocks and boulders.

It wasn’t easy but having a guide helped put any thoughts of giving up out of my mind. Not everyone in my group decided to tackle it – just four out of nine of us made it up – but those who did were rewarded with epic views over dolerite rocks bay towards Freycinet.

The Bishops and Clerk hike came on day three, by far the most strenuous day of the four, and that night we stayed in Bernacchi House in Darlington, complete with proper beds and flushing toilets.

Although it was lovely, in many ways, I missed the adventure of sleeping in the bush.

In just three days I had somehow forgotten normal life and got used to my days spent hiking, jumping in the sea, hiking some more and then going to bed at 8pm because the pitch back meant it felt like midnight.

On the fourth day we could “choose our own adventure” and despite having walked over 35km on the first three days, I found enough energy to do a 6km walk in Darlington which took in the fossils embedded in the island cliffs.

It was also a great opportunity to spot more of the very cute blonde wombats that roam the grassland that overlook Darlington Bay.

Before the ferry back to the mainland there was time for one last dip in the refreshingly cold Tassie water, much needed on my aching feet.

The guides also laid out a Champagne picnic for us to enjoy overlooking the water.

In four days I walked over 40km but I would happily have stayed to walk 100 km more. Maria Island encapsulates everything Tasmania has offer – stunning views, strenuous hikes, gourmet food, quality wine and protected wildlife – all in a beautiful package.

It’s not often you can truly get away from it all and Maria Island offers just that.

The writer travelled courtesy of Great Walks of Australia, Maria Island Walk and Tourism Tasmania

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