I’m not sure I’ve mentioned enough good things about Australian bakeries, so now is the time to admit that the morning ritual is finding the local bakery and indulging in an apple Danish or equally fantastic pastry. The Aussies know how to bake, that’s a fact.
I admit, I had a tear in my eye when we left our beach-front camping spot in Swansea. It was gorgeous! But a new adventure awaited so we headed north along the coast, marveling at the views and the uninterrupted white sand beaches. We rolled into Coles Bay and planned to spend the day in Freycinet National Park hiking to Wineglass Bay, considered one of the top 10 beaches in the world. The overcast skies and clouds were cramping our style a bit, but were supposed to burn off by afternoon, so we bid our time strolling around Coles Bay.
I stopped into the Wineglass Bay Cruises office where another friendly local told me we should drive over to the Cape Tourville Lighthouse to give the clouds time to break. Despite several whale sightings in the last few days, we sadly didn’t see any, but were still excited by the number of dolphins frolicking in the water.
We returned to the trailhead at Freycinet to start our Wineglass Bay trek just as the clouds were breaking and the skies were clearing. Depending on your fitness, it’s about a 20-40 minute hike up to the popular Wineglass Bay overlook. At the top we were a bit disappointed to see a heavy fog obscuring our view, but after waiting about 10 minutes, the fog broke just enough to catch an occasional glimpse of the bay and it’s spectacular beach. Hey, I can always buy a postcard of the cloudless view of Wineglass, the fog created some beautiful pictures!
It’s about another 30 minute hike down to the beach itself but it took me near an hour as I dawdled, taking photos of the birds and of a little wallaby mom with a joey at the bottom of the trail.
Once I stepped out to Wineglass Bay the sun was shining and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had set foot in heaven. Porpoises swam in the water just offshore, the white sand glittered in the sun, and the water was a fantastic blue-green. The surf was heavier than I expected and my Aussie friend was already in the water, front and center, enjoying a bit of body surfing.
With only 5-6 people on the beach, we practically had heaven all to ourselves. Not a bad way to spend the day! Rather than hiking out the way we came, we opted to do a big loop back to the car park, hiking across the Isthmus Track to Hazard Beach. Birds swarmed the quiet inland track and Hazard Beach turned out to be a fantastic surprise. Yet another beautiful and quiet beach that stretched for what seemed like miles. Who knew Tasmania was a beach paradise?
After hiking a total of 11 km, we returned to the camper and headed to town for dinner. Yet again, my ability to stick to a budget went right out the door when I did some research and found a restaurant in town that served up fresh seafood. How can you say no to fresh local fish? We took our seats at Madge Malloy’s and enjoyed chatting with the owner, a friendly, outgoing lady who served us a fantastic dinner of local Australian salmon and swordfish. And I even did the oysters again, this time with only lemon. They were fabulous!
We struck up conservation with a British couple, visiting to meet their daughter’s new Australian fiancée. We passed the time a bit too quickly chatting with them and when we showed up at the local camper van park at 10pm they weren’t too amused. My Aussie friend asked the owner what they do when people come in late. Her reply: “They just don’t.” Oops.
She was certainly friendly enough though, giving us keys to the facilities and checking us in. I said I didn’t want to drive at night in Tasmania because of the abundance of wildlife on the roads and we’ve stuck to that plan well, other than venturing a few blocks in town at dark. But I guess it’s noteworthy to say most places here really DO fold up early. So make sure you secure your accommodation and get your dinner before dark. Believe me – it’ll be worth your while. There is just too much good food, wine, and scenery here in Tassie.
And you must put Wineglass Bay and Madge Malloy’s on your to-do list. It’s not everyday you can experience a top 10 beach and top 10 dinner in the same day. I’m loving Tasmania!