Our east cost time was spent at Freycinet National Park and Bay of Fires National Park, both known for their scenic beauty and pink granite rocks and fiery red rocks.
Freycinet National Park
I really struggle to slow down and relax on our trips. I typically jam pack every must do item in 24 hours and it often feels like a blur. I am trying to rid myself of this habit and I was hoping 2 full days in Freycinet National Park, Tasmania’s oldest national park, would help with that. Freycinet is known for its range of rare and endemic flora and fauna; 80-90% of the native vegetation is remain in tact and a small population of Tasmanian devils still roam the land. It is also known of its abundance of snakes, which I was pretty happy to not see!
The land surrounding the park is dotted by several wineries and casual eateries where you can get fresh oysters prepared in a variety of ways. We took our time driving in to make sure to experience this. Our first stop was Mellshell Oysters, a small food truck on the Swan River, serving up oysters harvested in view of the tables it provides for their patrons. You really can’t get much fresher, making this little a place the best oyster eating experience in Tasmania.
Another great spot for oyster eating is Freycinet Marine Farm. This place serves them up in a variety of ways, but you can also find the classic natural option as well. We sampled the brie and salmon oysters and the mussels, YUM! Another casual, no fuss eatery with picnics tables makes this a great place to share a table and meet other travelers.
Up next, a little wine tasting. We visited four wineries over the 2 days and all had pretty great wine. Gala Estate is located in a charming old store built in 1900, both their wine and the tasting experience was lovely. Devils Corner is a must stop simply for the view, though we found their wine to be just ok. Both Freycinet Vineyard and Springvale Wines made lovely a pinot noir and their small winery feel made visits there seem quite intimate.
We closed out day one by hiking up Mt Amos. This 4km roundtrip hike offers the best views of the park, but requires pretty good fitness, comfort with a bit of scrambling, and appropriate shoes (I can’t stress this one enough). It is steep with slick rocks and we a saw a few ill prepared tourists struggling quite a bit here. In addition to the breathtaking views, the lesser appreciated geology was magnificent. Striated rock faces, large perfectly circular boulders balanced delicately on edges, and slabs that allow you to climb just a wee bit higher provide interest along the track as you head to the summit. This hike will also allow you to escape the crowds headed to the lookout. It was my favorite in the park.
The Wineglass loop trail is another excellent option for exploring. This 11.5 km hike takes you up to the lookout, down both Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach on Great Oyster Bay and the isthmus in between. There is a good mix of bush walking, beach combing, and rock hopping and the terrain is far easier to manage than Mt Amos.
I appreciated the contrast between the pure white sand beaches along Wineglass Bay and the shell filled and rock outcrops of Hazards Beach.
There are quite a few little bays to check out beyond this hike, all lovely and colorful, really showing off the orthoclase, a pink feldspar rock. A stop at the Tourville Lighthouse offers some big views of the coastline of the Coles Peninsula.
We didn’t see much wildlife in the park, but did spot a few colorful birds from time to time.
When you are not eating, hiking, or wine sampling there are quite a few options of places to stay just right outside or just inside of the park. With a preference towards a beach cottage rather than a tourist lodge, we chose to stay in the Dolphin Sands Area. This little spit is just a small river crossing from the park, but requires a 50ish minute drive as there is no boat transportation. While this sounds lengthy, the drive is lovely and it was worth it. We found the cutest little cottage on air bnb, filled with character, a large book collection and a cozy gas fired stove. The cottage was a collection of buildings with the sleeping and shower in separate little shacks and had a little fire pit out back.
There is beach access providing lovely views of the pink granite mountains and spectacular sunsets and sunrises. This quint and quiet little slice of beauty was a perfect place to celebrate my 40th birthday with my love.
Bay of Fires National Park
The Bay of Fires is often touted as a ‘must see’ destination. This area of Tasmania is lined with pure white sand and crystal clear turquoise water that is contrasted with the brightest fiery red rocks. It is absolutely stunning, but for us an afternoon and morning was plenty of time to explore.
Unfortunately, the rain had caught up to us this day so we delayed our beach time with a quick stop at a winery and bottle by the fire at our friend’s beach shack. Priority Ridge is a no fuss winery producing some great pinot noir.
The overcast skies the rest of the afternoon certainly didn’t put a damper on our beach exploring. Finding all of the colorful creatures at low tide exposed an alternative up close and intimate aspect of the bay that we may have missed if we were distracted by the famous sun soaked views.
The morning brought us a lovely sunrise complete with dolphins and some sun time to see the bay as the pictures suggested. This is a less traveled area of the country and with ample camp sites, I imagine that this would be the place to be to enjoy some beach time in the summer.
While I appreciate lovely beaches, I would so much rather be enjoying coastlines with a bit more topography. We were off to mountains next to find some big climbs!