A fellow traveller visiting Tasmania had commented to us that, “there’s no such thing as a bad view in Tassie”. We would have to agree with the east coast certainly delivering some amazing views to feast our eyes upon.
Just south of Swansea we came across The Spiky Bridge. This is a bridge that was built in 1843 using convict labour. There is some conjecture as to why the spikes are there, with one theory suggesting they were to stop cows falling over the edge!
We were heading for Freycinet National Park but first, as a by-product of some dodgy map reading and navigating (me) we actually ended up in a fabulous overnight camp spot.
Of course I take FULL credit for this run of events. Turning the map everytime you turn a corner IS a recognised navigational skill!
Point Bagot provided us with a great first view of ‘The Hazards’, a mountain chain running between Coles Bay and Wine Glass Bay, within the National Park. The Hazards are stunning mountains of pink granite and it was hard for your eyes not to be drawn to them. I am kicking myself that I didn’t take photos of them when we first arrived, as they looked really pink. Unfortunately, rain and cloudy skies followed us along the east coast and by the time I did whip the camera out the overcast skies affected just how pink the mountains looked.
We camped right on the water at Point Bagot and during breaks in the weather we managed to explore the beach, collect shells and the kids tried their hardest to get lost in the sand dunes.
Within Freycinet National Park we stayed at Richardson Beach Campground. This included a $22 (a night) family fee and also the use of our National Parks Pass.
As it turns out, ordinarily we would not have been able to stay here due to size restrictions within each site. Because the campground was empty and we were confident that we would fit ok, we were given permission to stay. We fit easily within the largest site we could find even though our rig was a metre or so above the maximum length. It would be useful for future travellers to be aware of such restrictions (it was the second NP we had experienced this in) and also that during periods such as Easter and over Summer it can be very difficult to secure a campsite at all (should you fit).
Wineglass Bay is consistently listed in the top ten of the world’s beaches and we were keen to have a look, both up close and from a look out above. This involved a walk of about 20 minutes to the look out (passing by another look out over Coles Bay) and then a three-hour return walk down to the bay.
Getting to the bay was all downhill (obviously) and it was really quite steep. Because the weather was so cold and wet we had all rugged up but the further we trudged, the more layers we peeled off. This just meant that we weren’t so hot but now had to lug all of our clothes, not to mention the water bottles we were already carrying.
At the back of our minds was the horrible realisation that the return walk was going to be tough! Our ‘feel the burn’ mantra didn’t take long to kick in once we started the return climb.
The views, however, totally compensated for this and we are all happy we undertook the challenge. The kids even managed to take their shoes off, roll up their pants and play in the water for short while, until the clouds once again rolled in and the light started to fade.
The following day (with our calves still burning) we took another walk, this time to Cape Tourville, to see the lighthouse and a group of offshore granite islets called The Nuggets. Once again the coastal views were amazing and we indeed had our breath taken away but this time from the wind – it was howling!!
Just north of Freycinet National Park is the seaside town of Bicheno where we stopped for a quick look around. This town is just one of many lovely looking towns between Freycinet and St Helens further to the north. As we drove through these towns it was extremely easy to see why this region is such a popular summer holiday destination – for both Tasmanians and interstate or overseas visitors.
Unfortunately the weather wasnt really ideal whilst we were there (it was winter after all) with one particular night at Diana’s Basin being so windy that we were sure that poor Stanley was going to take off!
From St Helens we chose to head inland. Had the weather been more favourable we may have spent more time on the coast – particularly the much talked about Bay of Fires.
Although there was a definite change in the scenery it shouldnt be said that the views were any less spectacular.We were now in farming country with some of the most amazing green, rolling hills we have ever seen.
We had heard about The Pub in the Paddock, one of Tasmania’s oldest pubs, from a number of people. The pub (in Pyengana) was originally the St Columba Falls Hotel and we had envisioned this quaint, isolated pub in the middle of nowhere.
This wasn’t really the case but it was still a pleasant place to visit. Of particular interest to the kids was Priscilla the Pig who is quite partial to a beer! We purchased one stubby – Priscilla is a responsible drinker after all – for $1 and the kids all took turns in feeding it to the pig.
From here with travelled inland a little more before visiting some of the north coast. I’ll write about this next time, including our visit to Beaconsfield – the small, sleepy town which in 2006 captured the attention of the world.