Back on the road, this morning our goal was to make our way to a section of Tasmania’s north-eastern coast known as the “Bay of Fires”, where we would spend the day exploring the unique region, before spending the night in St Helens.
Roughly a three hour drive from Devonport, we made it into St Helens in good time following the Bass and Esk Highways (1 & A4 respectively) through both dusty and rolling green farming lands and some really pretty towns like Avoca, Fingal and St Mary’s.
In Fingal we stopped briefly to grab a coffee at the “Hayshed Cafe” where we were greeted by a couple of lovely ladies with super friendly smiles – the type you just don’t get in the big city. We just wanted to give them a wee shout out as their hospitality was matched only by the great coffee they served up. Pop in and say hi if you’re heading through town.
What is the “Bay of Fires”
The “Bay of Fires” in Tasmania’s north-east is a stunning stretch of pristine coastline littered with granite boulders, covered in a distinctive orange lichen.
The automatic and understandable assumption (yes, I’m guilty as charged) upon arriving at the bay, which stretches from the friendly holiday town of Binalong Bay in the south, to Eddystone Point in the north, is that the lichen is responsible for the name of the region. In the right light, the beaches look like they could be on fire with the luminous effect the orange provides.
In fact, however, the name was coined by Captain Tobias Furneaux back in 1773 when, from the decks of the “HMAS Adventure”, he and his crew were able to spot the fires of the Aboriginal people who once inhabited the area.
Today, the “Bay of Fires” is a highly-rated and much visited sightseeing area which is, by all accounts, extremely popular as a camping spot in the warmer months.
Our first and most populated spot of the day, in terms of tourists anyway, was the attractive little seaside town of Binalong Bay. Considered the “Gateway to the Bay of Fires”, the bay has plenty of its own little nooks and secluded beaches you can gain easy access to by car, then explore at your own pace.
Without hesitation, we packed some lunch, slapped on some sunscreen and set off along the coastline forging our own pathway in and around the sandy beaches and sizeable orange tinted granite boulders, stopping frequently to snap pics along the way.
Over the course of a couple of hours, we got a real good feel for why this area was rated in 2009 as the world’s “hottest” travel destination by popular international guide book Lonely Planet.
Certainly in terms of natural beauty and charm, it’s a pretty unique and colourful experience with the orange of the rocks complemented by the lush green forest fringes and the calm, clear blue-green waters – a real Aussie must-see!
Cosy Corner North
Next stop on our hop northwards along the coast was a spot we received a heads up on from a friend before arriving in Tasmania. As it turns out, our hot tip is well supported by the “101 Best Beaches of Australia” website which has “Cosy Corner” listed as one of the Bay of Fire’s, and indeed Tasmania’s best, with its clear waters, access to coastal walks and ample bush camping sites.
We’re certainly not going argue with the generous assessment as we explored both the southern end with its open, grassy camping spots and pristine beach, and the northern end, officially our favourite spot of the day with its protected campsites set amongst casuarina trees and stunning views out towards the distinctive “Sloop Rock” at the end of a short beach walk.
Jot this down in your notebooks my friends – we WILL be back to Cosy Corner North in the not-too-distant future to take advantage of the amazing free camping spots in this amazing slice of Australia. Mark my words.
At the northern end of the camping areas that stretch almost 13km from St Helens in the south, we came across an attractive parcel of coastline, mostly private land, which is known as “The Gardens”. Here, the granite boulders were gathered in odd groups forming shallow, emerald green pools lined by grassy shrubs giving the appearance of a beautifully landscaped garden.
This was the perfect place for us to take a moment to sit and relax after a full day of scrambling over rocks and contemplate the amazing weather (*touch wood*) that we’ve experienced so far. With another full day of exploration further south in “Freycinet National Park”, including the world-famous “Wine Glass Bay” scheduled for tomorrow, we only hope our good run continues.
Binalong Bay sunset
With only a 30-40 minute drive back to our overnight accommodation in nearby St Helens ahead of us, I managed to convince Kirsten to stop in and hang around at Binalong Bay again for a little longer while I snapped a few frames of the sun setting over the now familiar orange rocks.
While the sunset held some promise as the light began to fade, it fell a little short of expectations in the end. I stuck with it, however, and managed to grab a couple of longer exposure frames you can see below.
All-in-all we had a fantastic day exploring this gem of an area. There’s no doubt that I’d highly recommend that Tasmania’s “Bay of Fires” makes it onto anyone’s tourist itinerary when heading down this way. It’s pretty spectacular, accessible to people of all ages, and well worth the visit.