Hiking Bishop and Clerk Maria Island: an epic day walk to the summit of towering dolerite columns on Maria Island’s northern coast.
Maria Island is widely known as one of Tasmania’s best wildlife sanctuaries. But, did you know it’s also an incredible hiking and bushwalking destination?
On Maria Island’s northern coastline is a series of prominent dolerite columns overlooking the Tasman Sea. These columns got their name due to their resemblance of a hat-wearing bishop beside a clergyman. Hikers can summit these towering columns for incredible views over Maria Island.
In this post, I’ll document my experience hiking Bishop and Clerk on Maria Island. My aim is to provide you with up-to-date, useful information with inspiring photography to motivate you to tackle the climb. Also, if you’re looking for more things to do on Maria Island, then don’t miss my comprehensive Maria Island travel guide.
- Where is the Bishop and Clerk Track on Maria Island
- Hiking the Bishop and Clerk Track
- View from Bishop and Clerk on Maria Island
- Hike Back to Darlington
- More Tassie Adventure and Travel Inspiration
Where is the Bishop and Clerk Track on Maria Island
Walkers can access the Bishop and Clerk track via Darlington on Maria Island. I'll assume that you are already aware of how to get here so I'll skip those details. Otherwise, you'll need to book a ferry before planning your trip.
Departing from Darlington, visitors will need to either walk or ride a bike west towards the Fossil Cliffs. Once you reach the fork at the towering bluff, you'll undoubtedly see the Bishop and Clerk pinnacles along the jagged coast to the right. This is where the Bishop and Clerk Track begins on Maria Island.
I climbed the Bishop and Clerk pinnacles as part of my self-guided 3-day Maria Island walk around Maria. For those interested in an incredible multi-day hike, consider following my route.
Hiking the Bishop and Clerk Track
- Hiking Distance: 11 km return to Darlington via Fossil Cliffs
- Duration: 3-5 hours
- Elevation: 630 m elevation gain
- Difficulty: Moderate (TasParks Grade 4)
The Bishop and Clerk Track is a fairly well-maintained track that winds along the steep, jagged coast towards the dolerite cape. While not technical, there is a little bit of scrambling required to reach the top. However, if you take your time and pick the right conditions, the summit is accessible by most.
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First Section: Open Grasslands
The walk begins on cleared grasslands along the vertigo-inducing cliffs. This section is very beautiful and you're almost guaranteed to spot a wombat, wallaby or kangaroo here.
This first section is completely exposed. So, if there is a fierce northerly, you're going to know about it.
Climbing Through Eucalypt Forest
After climbing the rolling cliffside, the track is quickly engulfed by a dense forest. The start of the track in the forest leading to the Bishop and Clerk pinnacles is very wide and again, absolutely full of wildlife.
I was fortunate enough not to see any other walkers on my afternoon hike. As a result, I was able to spot dozens of different marsupial and bird species on this section.
Continuing on, the track climbs another couple of kilometres on an ever-narrowing track through the dense woodlands. As the altitude increases, you'll notice more rocky ground and the emergence of boulders in the forest.
Crossing the Boulder Field
Suddenly and without warning, the Bishop and Clerk track opens to reveal a large exposed boulder field. You will notice orange, reflective arrows marking the best route through this section.
It seems that Tasmanian Parks have manipulated this field to create an easier track. In all honesty, this section is a breeze and you'll have no problem traversing it.
After clearing the field, the track enters the forest once again. This time, the boulders are much larger and there are some sections where you will need to scramble over them.
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Scrambling to the Bishop and Clerk Summit
The final push to the summit involves a bit of scrambling and light boulder climbing. It's not too difficult since again, there are orange markers indicating the best and safest way to reach the top.
I'd say that the most difficult section is a large boulder climb just before the summit. You'll know what I mean when you reach it as the smooth surface doesn't offer much in terms of holds. However, if you look up, you'll notice a couple of cracks where you can get a good grip and pull yourself up.
I know that it might sound a little intimidating, especially for people not used to scrambling. Don't worry though, if you take your time, you'll be fine.
View from Bishop and Clerk on Maria Island
After climbing to the top, I was blown away by the incredible views on offer. The vantage point from the summit is great since it allows for a perfect frame of the pinnacles overlooking Maria Island. All of a sudden, the towering cliffs from the beginning of the hike look minuscule in the distance.
If you look to the north, you'll see the Freycinet Peninsula, with Mount Graham and Mount Freycinet peaks dominant on the horizon.
All in all, I spent over an hour photographing and admiring this unique vantage point. Scattered sun showers painted vibrant sunbursts and rainbows on the rugged island ridges. In fact, I would have probably spent a bit more time up here if it wasn't for the persistent bullets of wind that would rip over the peak.
Hike Back to Darlington
Returning to Darlington means traversing the same route that you took on the way up. I felt energized by the awesome view so decided to run down the mountain with my backpack, reaching the fork in less than an hour.
From the fork where the Bishop and Clerk track begins, walkers usually loop back around the northern coastline, passing the Fossil Cliffs and the Maria Island air strip on the way. This saves having to repeat the same section twice and you'll get to see more of the Island.
Where to Stay Near Triabunna Before & After The Hike
Triabunna is the main town that you will need to head to before and after your hike on Maria Island. Below I've included some of the best places to stay near Triabunna to help you better plan your walk on the Maria Island circuit.
- Closest to Triabunna Ferry: Triabunna Cabin and Caravan Park
This is the only place available to stay in the actual township of Triabunna. This caravan park offers campsites and cabins within walking distance of the ferry and close to shops.
- Best nearby hotel: Eastcoaster Tasmania - Right around the corner from Triabunna is this really well-rated studio hotel in Orford. It has two swimming pools, a private beach, a hot tub, a tennis court and a basketball court. There's also a really good restaurant and bar which is great after three days hiking the Maria Island Circuit!
More Tassie Adventure and Travel Inspiration
If you enjoyed this hiking guide to Bishop and Clerk Maria Island, then make sure to check out some of my other articles. I've written extensively on loads of different things to do in Tasmania, with loads more great photos to inspire your trip.
Also, if you make it to the top, let myself and other readers know by leaving a comment below.