Up early to maximise the time we had in Freycinet, we made a quick stop at the St Helens franchise of my now “favourite Tasmanian bakery chain”, Banjo’s Bakery Cafe. Seriously… while this may not be as exciting to anyone else as it is to the Canadian part of me, these guys are the closest thing I think I’ve come to a Tim Horton’s here in Australia! Amy, Kirsten’s Mum tells me there’s one in Redcliffe, about a 40 minute drive from home back up in Queensland. Guess where I’m headed upon my return?!?
Coles Bay, the gateway town to Freycinet National Park and with a permanent population of only 200, is easily accessible from all of Tasmania’s major cities with Launceston and Hobart only 1 hour and 90 minutes away respectively. Luckily, we only had to travel from St Helens, about 90 minutes to the north along the coast, via a leisurely, and at times very scenic, meander down the A3 highway.
Kirst and I were immediately taken by the sweeping panoramic views of Freycinet’s bordering mountain range. Simply pulling over on the side of “Coles Bay Rd”, in the thick of a VERY lucky residential area, we were afforded the following view of “The Hazards” (Mt Dove, Mt Amos and Mt Mayson) across the bay – the very same mountains we were set to explore over the coming hours.
Arriving at the main park entrance and visitor reception area, we made a beeline for one of the helpful Tassie Parks & Wildlife” information boards that seem to be posted at all the major visitor areas and trail heads.
Surveying the hiking maps and options, we confirmed our planning earlier where we’d picked out the 11km (approx. 5hrs) “Wineglass Bay – Hazards Beach Circuit” as our adventure for the day. First stop – the Wineglass Bay lookout.
Wineglass Bay Lookout
Strong winds blowing off Coles Bay and up against the range we were ascending, slightly hampered the initial stages of the hike up and around the side of Mt Amos through huge granite boulders, but it didn’t take us long to reach the lookout on the south-eastern side in the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson. From there, we got our first good look at the pure white sand of the famed “Wineglass Bay”.
At the lookout we caught up with a number of other hikers that had made the journey up the mountain to also take in the natural spectacle. It was easy to see from the elevated position why “Wineglass Bay” has often been referred to as one of the top ten beaches in the world, but we wanted to get down to water level and experience the squeaky (literally) clean sand for ourselves.
But first, however, we chatted with a nice retired couple from the Sunshine Coast for a bit while we ate, hydrated, took some photos and had a bit of a breather.
The short downhill stretch to the beach was well marked and clearly well used, and although the hike back up to the lookout is probably a tad taxing, going the extra mile to get that sand between your toes is well and truly worth it.
The colours – WOW! From the pink of the granite all around you to the glowing white of the pure sand under your feet, to the orange of the lichen at the waterline and the aqua and turquoise hues of the water reflecting the blue of the sky above. Just WOW!
As you can imagine, the water was more than just a tad chilly and definitely not suitable for swimming, so we took some time to explore the shoreline at the northern corner of the beach and just absorbed the experience of being in such a beautiful place.
Onwards to Hazards Beach
Leaving “Wineglass Bay” behind us, we moved onto the next section of the circuit back to the carpark which came in the form of the “Isthmus Track” – a low, marshy trail which led us to the other side of the Peninsula to the isolated and deserted “Hazards Beach”.
As our luck would have it, just as we dropped down on to the sands of the beach, a windy shower snuck up on us from across the bay and presented us with a good 10 minutes of uncomfortable “sand stinging your legs and getting in your eyes” moments.
Back up behind the dunes we entered a twisted Casuarina forest which surprisingly gifted us with a wealth of wildlife spotting from numerous wallabies, to two or three Green Rosella’s that seemed to follow us for a stretch, staying 10-20m ahead of us at all times.
With “The Hazards” high on our right and “Great Oyster Bay” to our left, we spent the next couple of hours tackling the rocky, undulating trail back to the carpark. The trail offered up plenty to see and experience up until this point, but the “run home” to the car just seemed to go on and on as we traversed around the edges of both Mt Mayson and Mt Amos.
Back at the visitor reception area we signed out, indicating that we’d negotiated the circuit successfully. We also noted that, although the light was starting to fade, there were clearly still plenty of signed in hikers out and about in the park, mainly still up at the lookout.
Last thing to do for the afternoon was find our way a little further south to a nearby tourist town called “Swansea” where Kirsten expertly negotiated a well-priced hotel room for the night and we headed out to the nearby, Barkmill Tavern for a couple of well-earned beers and a really good dinner – can highly recommend!
Posted in: Travel