Bishop and Clerk Walking Guide: Maria Island National Park, Tasmania

Heading to Maria Island for the day and looking for a good hike, then Bishop and Clerk is the one for you! Here are all the details you will need to know for your walk. Even in the wet weather it is worth it!

Moody clouds lowering over the dolerite summits surrounded by shrubbery.

What is Bishop and Clerk

Bishop and Clerk are two impressive cliff tops along the coast of Maria Island. They are actually known as dolerite columns, made up of rock that was once molten lava. Along the south west coast of Tasmania you will find plenty of these dolomite columns dominating the coastline standing over 300m above the sea level. They are believed to have formed in the Jurassic period over 185 million years ago during a large volcanic event.

A moody grey sky low in the sky over bishop and clerk in the distance.

Why is it called Bishop and Clerk

When you look out to these two incredible view points it is believed that they resembled the look of a Bishop being followed by a clergy man. Who ever named them must have an incredible creative mind, I can’t quite see it. Can you ?

Where is Bishop and Clerk on Maria Island

Bishop and Clerk are located on the north west side of the island and one of the furthest points you are able to reach by foot on a day trip. There is no vehicle access on the island, so the start of the hike can be reached by walking or cycling. If you choose to cycle to the start you will need to leave your bike in a suitable location at the bottom.

Only a ten minute walk from the jetty will take you to the official starting point.

How difficult is it to hike up Bishop and Clerk

If you can’t tell by the look on my face this is a tough incline, are you up for the challenge? It is an 11km route and will take you around 4-5 hours to complete, including snack stops to take in the view of course! It is a consistent 2000ft climb with some steep and rocky sections closer to the summit.

Sarah laughing while standing on the rocky path.

What should I pack for the Bishop and Clerk Walk

Tasmania is known for its unpredictable weather fronts, it can be glorious sunshine and snowing all in the same day. It is best to be prepared for all eventualities.

  • Plenty of water – The standard rule is to take at least 1 litre of water for every 2 hours hiking. With no shops on Maria Island plan this carefully to ensure you have enough water not just for the hike but for the whole day.
  • Food and snacks – As well as planning how much water you take, MAKE SURE you pack enough food. I am talking sandwiches, cereal bars, sweets, fruit and anything else you THINK you will be craving during the day. Always take too much rather than not enough.
  • Waterproof – To protect you from those crazy downpours.
  • Hat and buff – You lose a large amount of heat through your head, so when the temperatures plummet wrap up warm around your head and face.
  • Gloves – When you start to feel cold, it will most likely be in your hands first. Pack some gloves to make sure to keep them nice and toasty!
  • Extra layers – Only you know how cold you get, if you are a cold soul like me you will be surprised at how many layers you will actually wear!
  • Hiking boots – They provide great support for your feet and ankles on those uneven surfaces that trainers just don’t provide.
  • GoPro / Camera – To capture memories of the hike!

What wildlife can I see on the hike up Bishop and Clerk

Maria Island is an island sanctuary and nature reserve, home to several endangered species and 11 of the 12 native Tasmanian birds. Over the years Maria Island has been nicknamed ‘Noahs Ark’ due to its isolated location and a haven for wildlife. This is just some of the wildlife you can expect to see.

A fluffy wombat in the distance eating  grass.
  • Wombats
  • Cape Barren Geese
  • Possoms
  • Pademelons
  • Kangaroos
  • Wallabies
  • Forty Spotted Pardalote
  • Swift Parrot
  • Tasmania Devil

Just to name a few.

On the mainland Tasmanian devils were facing a huge decline in numbers due to the contagious facial tumour disease. In 2012 they decided to introduce Tasmanian devils to Maria Island to isolate them from this quick spreading disease. In doing so this group of devils are thriving and surviving. After introducing the devils to the island this created a shift in the food chain and ecosystem, since their arrival 3,000 little penguin breeding pairs have been wiped out. A devastating blow.

A Cape Barren Goose sitting on the ground.

The Cape Barren Goose was also introduced to the island to ensure the survival of their species.

Walking Notes for Bishop and Clerk

Bishop and Clerk was in our sights to complete during our day trip to Maria Island, very close to the jetty you will see the building pictured below. Our first stop was here to sign our intentions of our hike for the day, this lets the rangers know who has set off on what walk for the day and also when they return.

It is super important that you sign this book as it will alert the rangers to anyone who hasn’t returned

George walking up to an old brick building.

On the path to the start of the hike, it was hard to not get distracted by all the wildlife. Only a few minutes into our walk we saw Cape Barren Geese, Pademelons and wombats and I LOVE wombats, it was hard to keep walking past. The glorious green grass was stunning and fantastic scenery to start the day.

A green grassy path leading up through the shrub.

As we started to climb it quickly changed from bright sunshine to rainfall, the waterproofs came out and we carried on. When we the forest I was so happy for some shelter from the downpours.

A muddy path through the woods.

Listen out for the different bird calls, can you find any of Tasmanias endemic species?

Part of this section of the hike is directly next to the cliff edge, walk with caution along these sections especially in the rain when the ground is muddy and slippy.

A man climbing up a rocky incline with his walking poles.

The time has come, the rocky climb that I had read so much about. I thoroughly enjoyed this section, even though it looks a bit scary and potentially hard underfoot, a purpose built path has been created within the rocks for you to follow! This section is exposed to the weather so dress appropriately, you aren’t halfway yet!

Up and up we go.

A view over the north of the island framed by the green shrub.

The sun decided to make an appearance as we made some good time on the ascent, just in time to show us where we started. Look at that view.

We can’t be far away now, surely?

George laughing at the boulders he has to climb over.

Just before you reach the summit there is some scrambling required, you can do it! George has this really bad habit of always telling me the top is just around the corner, but trust me when you get to this point it really is.

A dark grey rain cloud lowering over the view from the summit.


Lucky for us the clouds parted and we enjoyed the views with a tasty chicken caesar wrap for a whole 10 minutes before the dark grey clouds descended but it was so worth it. That ‘on top of the world’ feeling, outstanding.

Even the dark grey skies gave it a moody english feel which I loved.

Moody clouds lowering over the dolerite summits surrounded by shrubbery.

Feeling accomplished and now full after enjoying our lunch we escaped the rain and started the tackle the descent. It is the same route on the way back so be careful where you step and make sure not to slip!

Typical for us as soon as reached the end of the hike the skies were an endless blue with no grey cloud to be seen. We laid our clothes out on the grass to dry out and tucked into our strawberry bon bons looking over at the summit we just climbed!

A smiley selfie of Sarah and George on a large patch of grass.

Other sights to see on Maria Island – NTF

Maria Island is an outdoor lovers playground, plenty of walks and wildlife to explore.

The Darlington Penitentiary on the island is a UNESCO world heritage site, a site not to be missed to learn all about the convict history of the island. It is quite eerie.

Visit the Fossil Cliffs walk, named so by the number of fossils that live within the cliff rock.

The Painted cliffs are gorgeous, patterned sandstone that has been etched through the rock. The best time to see this phenomenon is at low tide so plan your walk carefully or you might miss it!

If you are a keen hiker, you can tackle the multi day Maria Island Walk.

Looking for a more relaxing trip? Spend the day spotting all the amazing wildlife that lives on the island.

How to get to Maria Island

There is only one way to get to the Island and that is by the passenger ferry from Triabunna. They run multiple sailing times each day and may add more times depending on demand. Head to encounter Maria to check out all the times and prices.

If you are heading over for the day make sure you arrive to your ferry on time, as once the last ferry is gone there is limited accommodation options and no food available.

A almond milk coffee cup on top of the Maria Island map.

Do I need to pay to visit the island

After paying for your ferry ticket to and from the Island, you will also need to hold a national parks pass for your visit. If you are on holiday in Tasmania I highly recommend purchasing the holiday pass, it will cover you over all national parks in Tasmania and lasts for 8 weeks! Whereas a 1 day pass to Maria Island is $20.60 per person. Choose which option is best for you.

All options and prices can be found on the Parks & Wildlife service website

Is there accommodation on Maria Island

One day isn’t enough? There are very few accommodation options on the island. A few minutes from the jetty there is the small township of Darlington, which was used as a penitentiary facility between 1825 and 1832. The old facility is now used as basic accommodation for visitors to the island. There are 10 rooms within this facility, 9 of those contain 6 bunk beds while the tenth can sleep up to 14. As you can imagine they are very popular and book out extremely fast, if you are interested book your beds as soon as possible.

You can also camp on the island there is plenty of space for you to decide where to pitch your tent, fees can be paid at the visitors centre before you board the ferry.

Can I book a tour to Maria Island

If you don’t own a car and can’t make it to Triabunna, you can book a day trip from Hobart!

cheap AZ Travel offer a day trip to Maria Island departing from Hobart every Monday and Thursday, check it our here. Add the code WILD on checkout for a cheeky discount too!

Sarah celebrating the end of the hike with the summit in the distance.

Bishop and Clerk walk overview

What do you think? Will you be hiking up the grand Bishop and Clerk on your next visit to Maria Island?

I hope this has given you all the information you need in order to make that decision. If I have missed anything out or you want to ask any more questions, comment below or send me a message on instagram I will be happy to help!

Enjoy your hike!

Sarah x

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