DESTINATION: FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK, TASMANIA
Azure water and shimmering white beaches typify the magnificent natural beauty of Freycinet National Park on Tasmania’s east coast.
TRAVELLING TO FREYCINET PENINSULA
Travelling north from Hobart along the Tasman Highway, you’ll drive through the curiously-named Black Charlie’s Opening and over Bust-Me-Gall Hill and Break-Me-Neck Hill. These names allegedly hark back to early settler times when bullock trains had to negotiate these hills on a dirt track to the east coast.
A little further on, you’ll reach Buckland, a small town known for its historic St John the Baptist Anglican Church. Built in 1846 by convict labour, it’s a lovely sandstone church with a shingle roof and stained glass windows. It’s very beautiful and very, very old.
Kate’s Berry Farm, 3km south of Swansea, is another pleasant stop along the way. Here, you’ll find all kinds of berry delicacies from pies and ice creams, to jams, chocolates and dessert wine.
On the Coles Bay Road, as you head towards Freycinet NP, stop in at Freycinet Marine Farm for fresh seafood. The farm specialises in oysters, mussels, rock lobster, abalone and calamari. You can enjoy the produce on their al fresco deck accompanied by local wine or beer.
HISTORY OF FREYCINET
The Freycinet peninsula dangles off the eastern side of Tassie into the Tasman Sea. Two huge, eroded blocks of pink granite form The Hazards and the Mt Graham/Mt Freycinet sections of the peninsula, which are joined by a sand isthmus. The warm, dry weather of the east coast supports the growth of dry forest and heath, with wildflowers common for most of the year. It was named after the navigator Louis de Freycinet, who joined a French expedition in 1802, led by Nicholas Baudin, to explore and chart the area.
The walk up to Wineglass Bay Lookout is an essential part of any trip to Freycinet NP. It’s a 5km (1.5 hours) return walk on a rocky, well-constructed, but surprisingly steep, track. You can stop along the way to enjoy scenic vistas back towards Coles Bay and Great Oyster Bay as you make your way up to the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson. Your efforts will be well-rewarded by the stunning view of the perfectly shaped Wineglass Bay, with its shimmering white sand rimmed by azure water. It’s one of Tassie’s iconic views.
From Wineglass Bay Lookout, you can continue the walk along the Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach Circuit. This takes you steeply down to Wineglass Bay, then across the peninsula via the Isthmus Track to return along Hazards Beach. By the end of this walk you will have covered 11km over four or five hours. Alternatively, you can return from the lookout to the car park directly via the Boulder Track, winding its way down rough bush steps in parts and past large pink and black granite boulders.
HONEYMOON BAY AND SLEEPY BAY
Honeymoon Bay was another highlight. This little, unassuming bay is nestled between two rocky headlands and is watched over by the imposing rounded peaks of The Hazards. The shallow hourglass-shaped bay is a glorious place for a swim and a snorkel, and is a great place to relax. Just out of the bay is a small rocky islet which the children enjoyed snorkelling out to explore.
Access to Sleepy Bay is via a short, gently-graded bush track (10 minutes return). Sleepy Bay is a surprisingly gorgeous inlet surrounded by interesting rock platforms.
More stunning views and miles of pristine white sand are the main features of The Friendly Beaches. Gravel roads lead to car parks overlooking the coast, with tracks down to the beach, and information signs pointing out features of interest. Nearby Saltwater Lagoon can be reached via a 40-minute return walk. Here, you’ll find an abundance of water birds, particularly black swans.
Coles Bay, the nearest township, was named after a shepherd from the area – Silas Cole, who was initially a convict but, by 1852, was a free man. We stayed at Iluka on Freycinet Holiday Park at Coles Bay. The park’s facilities are clean and modern, and it has the added luxury of a bakery, tavern, takeaway, supermarket and service station on site. We’d been told that the bakery was superb and we weren’t disappointed. The scallop pies and lemon tarts were exceptional, and the coffee was excellent.
The park is located across the road from Muirs Beach, and has a nice outlook across the bay. Muirs Beach is a picturesque stretch of sand flanked by the calm waters of Coles Bay
- Wineglass Bay Lookout
- Swimming at Honeymoon Bay
- Muirs Beach at sunset
FAST FACTS ABOUT FREYCINET
Freycinet National Park is about 2.5-3 hours’ drive from both Hobart (195km) and Launceston (175km). Turn off the Tasman Highway onto the Coles Bay Road. The main park entrance is about 30km from the highway, just past the township of Coles Bay.
WHAT TO DO IN FREYCINET
- Sampling local produce: Kate’s Berry Farm, 12 Addison Street, Swansea, Tas, (03) 6257 8428, www.katesberryfarm.com
- Fresh seafood: Freycinet Marine Farm, 1784 Coles Bay Road, Coles Bay, Tas, (03) 6257 0140,
- Boat cruise: Wineglass Bay Cruises, Coles Bay, Tas, (03) 6257 0355, www.wineglassbaycruises.com
- Bushwalking and swimming
- The Freycinet NP Visitor Centre is located at the entrance to the park.
- The centre is open daily from 8am-5pm from November-April and 9am-4pm from May-October. Phone (03) 6256 7000 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Freycinet National Park Camping Area at Richardsons Beach: (03) 6256 7000, email@example.com, www.parks.tas.gov.au. It is suitable for small caravans and campervans. There are 19 powered sites with potable water, grey water disposal and an amenities block. Bookings required by July 31 for summer and Easter, with a ballot drawn in early August. No bookings are taken at other times and campers must check in at the visitor centre.
- Freycinet Peninsula walks
Adapted from Caravan World #518, September/October 2013