• Walkers on the Mountains of Maria Island Experience guided walk.
    Walkers on the Mountains of Maria Island Experience guided walk.
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Maria Island, off Tasmania's east coast, known for its wild landscape, Instagrammable wombats and convict buildings is set for a revamp - and there are fears if it is mishandled it could change the island's character.

The Parks and Wildlife Service is holding public meetings and calling for public input as it develops a new draft management plan for Maria Island, the ABC reports.

Very little has changed since the island was declared a national park in the 1970s and many like it that way.

But visitor numbers are soaring, driven by a new, high-frequency ferry service and the cult of Instagram.

According to the Parks and Wildlife Service, 21,000 people visited the main settlement of Darlington in 2014–15.

By 2018–19 that had jumped to 38,700 — an increase of 84 per cent over just four years.

Options being looked at include upgrading trails to the Painted and Fossil Cliffs, using water taxis to disperse day visitors, providing basic food, and tea and coffee options at the main settlement of Darlington, introducing camping gear hire so people can change their mind and stay the night, setting up standing camps to provide "intimate, low-impact accommodation" and improving infrastructure such as wastewater and power.

The National Parks Association's Nick Sawyer said he feared the department's approach would be to try to accommodate as many visitors as possible.

"It's an overwhelmingly natural and historical experience and we're concerned there seems to be a lot of pressure for an excessive level of commercial development that could substantially alter the character of the place," he said.

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