Freycinet is famous for its iconic Wine Glass Bay, but there is so much more to see and do on this stunning part of Tasmania’s wildly wonderful east coast.
The beautifully rugged Freycinet Peninsula juts out into the sea on Tasmania’s mid east coast. Freycinet National Park is dominated by knuckles of granite mountains, with the highest peak in the Hazard Range being Mount Freycinet – at 620 metres. The stunning mountain range is surrounded by azure bays and white sand beaches, the most famous of which is called Wine Glass Bay. It’s been voted many times as one of the best beaches in the world.
A long history
Freycinet was first discovered by European settlers when in 1642, Abel Tasman was navigating the east coast. At the time he thought it was a chain of islands, but in 1802-1803, French explorer Nicholas Baudin reached the area and discovered that it was a peninsula, and he named it after one of his senior officers, one of the Freycinet brothers.
Whaling parties, tin and coal miners and pastoralists are amongst those who have lived and worked on the peninsula, and today you will still come across old mine shafts, abandoned farmers’ huts and the remains of whalers’ camps.
This magical region that has more than it’s fair share of natural beauty has long been admired by naturalists, artists, writers and photographers, and in 1916 it was reserved as a national park, making it the oldest national park in Tasmania, along with Mt Field.
Places to explore
Wineglass Bay, with its dazzling white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters, is perfect for sea kayaking, swimming and scuba diving. The Hazard Range is ideal for climbing, abseiling and mountain walking, and the coastal heathlands have wonderful day walks.
Bird lovers also love this region, and if you are lucky you’ll catch a white-bellied sea eagle gliding overhead or see large Australasian gannets diving for food. In the bushland you might see or hear small nectar-feeding birds such as eastern spinebills and yellow-throated or crescent honeyeaters, and it’s hard to miss the noise when a flock of yellow-tailed black cockatoos fly by.
If you love bushwalking, short walks in Freycinet National Park include Cape Tourville, which is only 20 minutes, the famous Wineglass Bay Lookout that takes 1 to 1.5 hours, the longer Wineglass Bay route of 2.5 hours or a trek to Hazards Beach takes 3.5 hours.
There are operators in the area where you can join multi-day walking and sailing tours.
Where to stay
Saffire Freycinet at Coles Bay is the cream of the crop of luxury lodges in Australia. It’s as much about the building as it is about the sense of peace, the sublime food and service, and living in luxury in one of the most remote places in the world. There is no getting around it – it’s expensive (around $3,000 a couple per night) but it includes dining packages as well.
Considered the “Jewel of Tasmania”, it was designed by renowned local Tasmanian architects, Morris Nunn and Associates. From the air, you can see that the main lobby and communal areas are shaped like a giant stingray, with the suites in a sweeping curve below. There are only 20 suites discreetly positioned on the waters edge, overlooking the Hazards Mountains, Freycinet Peninsula and the pristine waters of Great Oyster Bay. They have plunge pools and floor to ceiling glass to take in the views.
Freycinet Lodge in the National Park is a second favourite in these parts, and it also dishes up wonderful food and wine experiences. It’s not as expensive as Saffire, at around $550 to $1000 a night, and you can stay in one of the stunning Coastal Pavilions or in a Mountain Terrace room.
Luxury for many is just being in the great outdoors in an incredible location, so if you want to immerse yourself in nature while not dishing out the big bucks, there are plenty of places to camp in the park with incredible views that won’t break the bank. This is really popular during summer and autumn however, and you can also book into affordable cabins and a host of other resorts and hotels.
For more to explore in Tasmania, check out the state’s best-kept gourmet secrets.