Maria Heritage

Discover the Heritage of Maria Island

The chapters of Maria Heritage are layered in History.

Step back in time and visit the 1800s settlement of Darlington.  The convict probation station at Darlington, which predates Port Arthur, is now World Heritage protected.


The Commissariat store erected in 1825 is the oldest building on the Island.
The Penitentiary (gaol) was erected in 1830 and is a must see feature when visiting.
The Coffee Palace Museum has been recently renovated as a showpiece depicting life on Maria Island during the late 1800’s.
Political prisoner William Smith O’Brien’s cottage, the Miller’s cottage and the Grand Hotel.

Mrs Hunt’s cottage
provided the only radio communication to the mainland Tasmania. Mrs Hunt was the last permanent resident to leave the Island.  She operated a pedal radio.
Visit the Oast HouseHowell’s cottage; the Brick Kilns; the School Master’s house; the quaint Post Office; the cemetery; the convict-built barn where you will find an amazing collection of farming machinery and much more.


WANT TO KNOW A LITTLE BIT MORE?                                                                  

Once home to the Tyreddeme Aboriginal people of the Oyster Bay area – it is thought that they inhabited the Island for over 30,000 years and it is documented the Island may have been used as a sacred burial ground.
The last sightings of Aboriginal families on the Island were in the mid 1820s.
Rare evidence of their habitation can still be seen on the Island such as the shell middens at Reidle Bay.

1642 is the earliest European documented sighting of Maria Island and was recorded by the Dutch discoverer Abel Tasman on the same voyage where he discovered Van Diemens Land.  He named the Island “Maria’s Eylandt” after Maria Van Diemen, the wife of the then Governor of Batavia, Anthony Van Diemen.

1789 saw the first landing by European discoverers on the Island when the crew of Captain James Cox’s vessel The Mercury landed at Shoal Bay.  This expedition provided one of the earliest contacts with the Tasmanian Aborigines as well as the naming of several parts of the Island including the Mercury Passage.

Also during the expedition of Nicolas Baudin from 1800 – 1804, one of the crew, Francois Auguste Peron zoologist, discovered the elaborate Aboriginal cremation tombs on the shore of Reidle Bay the likes of which have not been found anywhere else in Australia.

1805 – Whaling and Sealing began
1825 – 1832   1st Convict Era – Settlement of Darlington and the Penitentiary.
1842 – 1850   2nd Convict Era – Opening of Point Leseur gaol.
1888 – 1896   1st Industrial Era
1920 – 1929   2nd Industrial Era
1930 – 1972   Farming Era
1972 – 2011   National Park