Freycinet Peninsula is a stunning collection of land formations along Tasmania’s eastern coastline. From its dramatic jagged pink granite mountains, known as The Hazards, to the many sheltered, white sandy beaches, much of the peninsula is located within the Freycinet National Park — the first national park to be declared in Tasmania, along with Mt Field National Park back in 1916. Throughout the park there is diverse vegetation including coastal scrub, wetlands and dry eucalypt forests. Both the geographical formations and the bush landscape, make this the perfect place to visit. Wineglass Bay, perhaps the centrepiece of the national park, is listed in the world’s top ten beaches.
The area is also brimming with history from ancient Aboriginal habitation, to early European exploration and colonial settlement. Aboriginal people hunted, travelled and traded here 35,000 years before the first Europeans arrived on these shores and evidence of their habitation can still be seen in the shell middens scattered along the coast providing some of the oldest evidence of human culture in the world.
In 1642, Abel Tasman became the first European to sight the peninsula, naming it Vanderlin’s Eylandt. 160 years later, French explorer Nicholas Baudin and his scientific expedition arrived here aboard Le Géographe and Le Naturaliste. Baudin renamed the peninsula after two of his lieutenants, brothers Henri and Louis de Freycinet, who accompanied him on the expedition.
This early exploration and the history of Tasmania’s east coast is clearly evident in its place names including: Freycinet Peninsula, Cape Tourville and Point Geographe from early French voyages; Schouten and Maria Islands from the Dutch navigators who preceded them, and Swansea and Glamorgan from homesick Welsh families who carved the first farms from the bush.
Freycinet Peninsula also was a centre for whaling, mining, granite quarrying and farming, and evidence of this can still be seen in the landscape. Aquaculture has been a prominent industry in the area since the 1970s, harvesting the abundant oysters, mussels, scallops and abalone that thrive in the clean waters of the east coast.
And whilst Freycinet’s coastal, wetland and forest habitats provide the perfect home for an abundance of wildlife they are somewhat shy – so you’ll need to keep your eyes open to spot them… We saw some birds, a small lizard, a very tame wallaby on our visit but we have it on good authority that if you’re lucky enough you may also see Sea eagles, Albatrosses, Black Swans, Tasmanian devils, Quolls, Wombats and Brushtail Possums or offshore, Dolphins and migrating Southern Right, Minke and Humpback Whales following ocean currents on their journey north and south.
Tasmania’s east coast has a mild climate, with low rainfall and more sunny days each year than Sydney. The mild climate is ideal for the production of fine cool climate wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling. The east coast’s exceptional fresh produce includes succulent berries, sweet crunchy walnuts and superb seafood, nurtured in the clear waters of Great Oyster Bay and the Tasman Sea. Much of which we sampled during our stay at Freycinet Lodge.
The Freycinet national park’s main entrance is a short distance from Coles Bay, approximately 28 kilometres from the Coles Bay turnoff.
A couple of the walks we did this trip included:
Wineglass Bay Lookout – 1-1½ hours’ return
A steady incline for most of the way this walk will reward you with your first, unforgettable view of one of the world’s best beaches — Wineglass Bay. From the start of the well-formed rocky track at the Wineglass Bay car park, take the short, but quite steep climb to reach the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson. Here, you can take the side track to the lookout and absorb the unarguably stunning views of Wineglass Bay.
Cape Tourville Lighthouse – 20 minute circuit
Just 15 minutes’ drive from Coles Bay, this easy circuit walk offers spectacular views of Sleepy Bay, Wineglass Bay and along the coast towards Bicheno. The 600 metre track is wide and even with gently graded slopes and is suitable for walkers with strollers.
From Coles Bay
Along Richardson’s Beach:
Needless to say we didn’t come out of there empty handed!
(See Luxury, leisure and pure pleasure at Freycinet Lodge for details about our time at the lodge. Coming up next discover the wonderful food at The Bay Restaurant.)
NB: NB. Good walking boots, appropriate clothing for the weather conditions, a map, water and adequate food are essential when bushwalking in Tasmania.
Thanks to the Freycinet Lodge website for some of the historical information included in this post.