It had been a great few days on Bruny island, but we were also excited to move on to the Freycinet Peninsula, where we would spend three days as the penultimate stop on our trip. One thing we hadn’t done during our time in the Hobart area was to visit Mount Wellington, so we decided to stop off as our route took us through Hobart. The winding road climbs to the top of the mountain, where there are spectacular views of the city below. The temperature at the top was fairly bracing though, some good preparation for our trip back to the UK a few weeks later. It was a long but beautiful drive North to Freycinet, with a large part of the route tracking the coastline.
There are some beautiful camping spots along the beach front, but it turned out that you had to enter a ballot about six months earlier if you wanted to secure a pitch for the coveted Christmas – New Year period. Unforuntately we were not quite that organised, so we settled for the campsite in the nearby town of Coles Bay. It may not have been quite as a spectacular location, but it was only a short walk from the beach, and the toilets weren’t nearly such a frightening prospect. We found a nice restaurant in the town which mainly specialised in stone baked pizzas, and settled in for a relaxed evening meal.
The next day we decided that we would embark on one of the more popular hikes in the area, the 15km walk linking Coles Bay with Wineglass beach and Hazard beach. It looked to be a warm day, and we wanted to leave plenty of time for swimming breaks, so we set off early from the campsite and headed for the start point of the walk. The first section led to the lookout on the ridge between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson which provided a spectacular view down to the famous Wineglass Bay below. The walk until here had been packed with hundreds of selfie stick wielding tourists, making the short return walk to catch a glimpse of the beautiful bay.
We were pleased to find that after we left the lookout and began the descent towards the beach the walk became a lot more peaceful. The beach itself was spectacular, and we decided to take a walk along it a short way in order to grab a small section of it to ourselves, and then cool off in the shimmering azure sea. Suitably refreshed we continued on the walk, cutting across the isthmus to Hazard beach on the opposite side of the peninsula. Although the beach here was maybe not quite so picture postcard, the sea was a little calmer, and it made for a great second swimming break of the day. The walk back to Coles Bay tracked the rocky coastline, and the sweeping views combined with a near isolated track made for a fantastic end to the walk.
We decided to make the next day a slightly more relaxing affair, and rather than tackling one longer walk we decided to visit a few nearby places instead. We began still within Freycinet itself, with a drive across to Cape Tourville Lighthouse, stopping on the way for the short walk to Sleepy Bay. The lighthouse offered great views back along the coast to Wineglass bay where we had been the previous day. Next we continued north to Bicheno, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the area for two reasons – the best fish and chips that we’ve had so far in Australia, and the great short walk along the rocky foreshore which made for a pleasant way to walk off the lunch. Although I say ‘fish and chips’, it was actually shark and chips – Maisie was very happy to make the sea a safer place, although I’m not sure Gummy sharks are a great threat to anyone! After our walk we headed back to the South to a tearoom famous in the area for its jams and fruit – Kate’s Berry Farm. It was a tasty end to the day, and probably undid most of the good work from the previous days hike!
We were keen to get up bright and early the next day in order to head on to what would be our final destination of the trip, Bay of Fires. Unfortunately the wine from the night before had other plans, so we rolled out of the campsite later than our checkout time, and several hours later than planned. Fuelled up on some very nice bacon and egg rolls in Bicheno, we continued north, on the hour and a half long drive up the coast. Bay of fires is a large bay and collection of beaches extending from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point. The bay was given it’s name by Tobias Furneaux, who saw the fires of Aboriginal people on the beaches. It is a very popular location for camping, with campgrounds located behind most of the beaches all of which are free to stay on for up to four weeks. The first two be visited were pretty busy so we continued along the coast and were rewarded when we arrived at the site behind Swimcart Beach. Although the facilities were limited, the camping spot with it’s excellent views was the best of the entire trip, and seemed like a fitting way to bring this fantastic trip to a close. The wind was really strong and many of the tents were collapsing, luckily as ours is small it was fine. After pitching our tent we went for a walk along the beach. Swimcart Beach was very exposed and the sea was rough and didn’t look like a safe place to swim. Then we rounded the headland and found the next beach, Jeanneret Beach, a complete contrast the sea was much calmer and it was sheltered from the wind. Jon quickly popped back for our swimming stuff so we could enjoy the last part of the day and cool off in the sea. For dinner that evening we went back into St Helen’s as we don’t have cooking equipment. We found a tiny Indian Restaurant which served the tastiest curry we’ve had since moving to Australia. Tasmania had been an incredible place to spend a few weeks, and the highlight so far of our time in Australia.