Maria Island is renowned for its abundance of wildlife, including a variety of both native and introduced species, some of which are more active when the sun goes down. “The island is nicknamed Noah’s Ark because in the 1960s a variety of threatened species, such as Cape Barren Geese and Forester Kangaroos, were introduced to the island for their own protection,” The Maria Island Walk guide, Holly Schorta, explains. “You really have to come here to understand just how much wildlife is around.”
The Wildlife on Maria Island comes to life at as the sun sets. Image: The Maria Island Walk
Night walks can be enjoyed each evening, although Holly explains that the chance of seeing more animals increases as the walk progresses. “Towards the start of the walk we spend our nights in forested areas where animals are a bit trickier to spot, however on the last night the nocturnal walk is on open land, so spotting creatures that are active at night is more probable,” she says. “Most nights we are likely to see wallabies, pademelons, Pygmy Possums and wombats. If we’re very lucky we might see a Tasmanian Devil."
Little Pygmy Possums are one of the incredible sighting opportunities at night on Maria Island. Image: The Maria Island Walk
Although a Tasmanian Devil sighting is not guaranteed, Maria Island is one of the best locations for spotting one of these iconic creatures in the wild. “Fifteen Tasmanian Devils were introduced to the island as an insurance population in 2012 as part of a rehabilitation program.” Holly explains.
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“Elsewhere in Tasmania, they are near extinct because of Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) – an aggressive and transmittable parasitic cancer. However, on the island there are no devils with the tumour, so they have been able to breed successfully and the population has steadily grown.”
Maria Island's population of Tasmanian Devils is steadily growing. Image: The Maria Island Walk
Although Holly can’t be sure of exact numbers, she says that local research teams speculate that there are close to 60 Tasmanian Devils on the island. “The last time I saw a Tasmanian Devil was incredible,” she remembers. “I was leading a group of walkers and as we turned a corner onto Bloodstone Beach there was a mother and her baby eating a dead seal that had washed up on the beach. We were all speechless.
The Maria Island Walk
This four day guided walk across magnificent Maria Island, combines intimate wildlife encounters, fascinating history, pristine white sand beaches, and locally sourced gourmet food.