Delving into the East Coast islands

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Off the east coast of mainland Tasmania, you can find many fascinating offshore islands, some of which can be explored.

The East Coast Islands are made up of various sub-groups, such as the Schouten, Maria, Tasman, Sloping, Partridge and Actaeon Island groups.

Some of these are popular with tourists and easily accessible, while others take a little more nous to reach, or are reserves! All of them however provide the perfect opportunity for travellers to experience something new and original away from crowds. The only crowds may be wildlife.

Get back in touch with nature by exploring some of Tasmania's offshore islands – you'll be glad you did.

Exploring the islands

Maria Island – actually pronounced Mariah – is ripe for exploration and penguin fans in particular will have a joyful time at this spot. The entire island is a national park and has been since 1982, because of its lush natural environment. Its aboriginal name is Toarra-Marra-Monah, so it is strange that the name given to it by European settlers after Maria van Diemen (née van Aelst), wife of Anthony van Diemen, the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies in Batavia, should sound similar.

Once upon a time, Aboriginal tribes used the land as a winter hunting group. With the arrival of European settlers in the 1800s, Maria Island became a convict prison. There wasn't always the need for bars and locks though, since the remoteness and ocean surrounds acted as the perfect cell.

Visitors to the island today can stay in the former penitentiary and see explore the remnants of convict society, a fascinating part of Tasmania's overall heritage.

Other interesting facilities appeared on the island after it was decommissioned as a convict site, including cement works, vineyards, guesthouses and the still-standing Coffee Palace. A particular fun activity for visitors these days is to explore the ruins of the cement silos as well some of the other former sites.

Of course, Maria Island's status as a national park makes it a great place to look out for animals. Aussie favourites like Kangaroos, wallabies, Cape Barren geese and even pademelons are common creatures to come across on this islet.

Take some of the walks to stunning sites of nature's magnificence, including Fossil and Painted Cliffs and Bishop and Clerk Mountain where you might spot some of these creatures.

Remember, there aren't any shops or facilities on the island, although there is accommodation including camp sites. That means you'll need to bring all the food and water you're going to need along with you on your journey.

Those who want to experience a slightly lesser-known island might want to head to Ile des Phoques. Divers love exploring the rich undersea life of this location and animal-lovers will be on the watch for the seals that frequent the area.

There are also plenty of amazing cave and tunnel formations, forged from years of flowing water. Set some time aside to explore these incredible structures to their fullest.

You might also want to check out the Schouten Island Group. The eponymous island was used in the 1800s as a base for whaling and sealing. Now, the island offers fun and adventure to campers and holidaymakers and is especially renowned for its kayaking.

When it comes to the Tasman Island Group, the Hippolyte Rocks are unmissable. You can visit by charter boat to check out the local wildlife, including unique birds and seals – even black-faced cormorants.

On your Tasmanian adventure, there's nothing like getting even further off the beaten track and visiting places that few before you have experienced!

Not many tourists have much time at their disposal to explore the magical offshore islands, so make the decision that you will and you'll come home with some incredibly unique holiday snaps and memories.

Painted Cliffs on Maria Island

Maria Island - East Coast Cruises



Tasman Island as seen from a Tasman Island Cruise

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