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Fossil Cliffs is a 4.5km, grade 2 Circuit hike located in Maria Island National Park Tasmania. The hike should take approximately 2hrs to complete.
This walk is in the Maria Island National Park and can be enjoyed as part of a day or overnight visit to the island.
Along the way to Fossil Cliffs you will pass many reminders of the rich cultural heritage of Maria Island.
This large building was erected as a store for agricultural produce from the nearby farm, about the site of the present airstrip. There are two features unusual in a convict building: it was not white-washed internally, and it boasts a triple diamond pattern high on the external wall facing the Cemetery.
During the 1920s it became a machine repair and carpenter’s shop for the cement company’s railway system.
The people buried in this cemetery have been linked with the island in various ways over many years. They include James Jarvis, a child of six months, buried in May 1825, possibly the son of one of the early officers.
Hohepa te Umuroa was one of the lesser Maori chiefs imprisoned on the island for ‘rebellion’. Aged about 25 years, he died of tuberculosis on 19 July 1847. Thomas Adkins was works manager of the first cement works and died in June 1890 while preparing a sample of cement for the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition. His wife Rosa (who was later to run the island’s Boarding House) died in 1942 at the age of 94 years and was the last person to be buried in the Maria Island cemetery.
The cliff exposure in the Fossil Bay area is recognised as the best example of lower Permian strata in Tasmania, if not the world. The dark grey rock containing the fossils consists of alternating beds of fossil-rich limestone and siltstone that is estimated to be about 16 metres thick.
At Fossil Cliffs you will discover the prolific occurrence of fossils of the thick-shelled clam Eurydesma. The soft parts of the creatures have rotted away, leaving only the hard shells, which have lasted almost 300 million years. In some areas, almost all of the rock is made up by the broken shells of Eurydesma.
On the lower rock shelf you can see a variety of fossils including sea fans, coral-like creatures, scallop shells and sea lilies.
It is thought that such an extensive accumulation of fossils may be related to the cold conditions associated with the polar sea of the time. Amongst the fossils are some large rocks, called dropstones. These have been transported by floating ice. As the ice begins to melt, the stones fall to the sea floor and settle amongst the finer sediments. The stones consist of different rock types, including granite and quartzite, and may have come from nearby, or from great distances away.
The East Coast and Flinders Island
A ferry operates to Maria Island. The ferry departure point is at Triabunna.
Park entry fees apply, ferry charges and camping fees apply.
Picnic, toilet and gas barbecue facilities. There are no shops on the island. Basic hut and camping accommodation (own bedding, stove and food required).
Moderate grade with no steep sections.
Supervise children, hazardous cliffs, unprotected track edges.
Pets or firearms not allowed. Bicycles may be ridden on this track.
Max elevation: 53 m
Min elevation: 2 m
Total climbing: 75 m
Total descent: -75 m
For more information about this hiking trail please visit Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania