Bay of Fires
The Bay of Fires, a beautiful piece of wilderness coastline in the north-east corner of Tasmania, stretches from Eddystone Point in the north to Binalong Bay in the south. Characterised by stunning blue water, fishing lagoons, spotless white sandy beaches and orange lichen covered granite boulders, the area is often mentioned internationally in lists of the world's top beaches.
A place of tranquil beauty and one of Tasmania s most popular tourist destinations, this 29-kilometre ribbon of sea, surf and sand is renowned for its island beach culture, cosy cottages and nature walks, not to mention its natural beauty. The bay's unusual name was given to the area by Captain Tobias Furneaux, in 1773, when he saw the smoke from the fires of the local Kunnara Kuna tribe. This led him to believe that the country was densely populated. Abundant evidence of this occupation by Aboriginal people can be seen along the coast today.
Where Is it?: The Bay of Fires is located in the north-east corner of Tasmania. It stretches from Eddystone Point in the north to Binalong Bay in the south. The northern section of the Bay, from north of the outlet of Ansons Bay to Eddystone Point lies within the Mt. William National Park. The middle section of the Bay of Fires lies in the vicinity of Ansons Bay. It can be accessed via Policemans Point or the northern shore of Ansons Bay, however be aware that it is not possible to cross the outlet of Ansons Bay. The southern section of The Bay of Fires is in the Bay of Fires Conservation Area, situated along a 13 km stretch of coast between Binalong Bay and The Gardens.
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The small fishing village of Ansons Bay has been famous since its beginning as a premier bream fishing resort. There are approximately 200 houses scattered along the shores of the Bay, built amongst the natural forest. Some people reside permanently in Ansons Bay but many more visit the community for holidays and weekends. There is only one shop in the area. Ansons Bay is the closest settlement to the historic Eddystone Point Lighthouse circa 1889. Nearby is the beautiful Mt. William National Park. Extreme care should be taken to avoid wildlife on the roads through the area, which are unsealed.
10 minutes north of St Helens is the little community of Binalong Bay, which marks the beginning of the Bay of Fires. Noted for its rock and surf fishing, it is here that visitors first see the bay s large expanse of untouched coastline, lined with clean, white beaches punctuated by picturesque granite outcrops covered in orange lichen. With an array of accommodation, fishing and diving facilities, and a general store and cafe, Binalong Bay is an idyllic location for those seeking a 'holiday in heaven' and an ideal starting point for walks along the coastline.
Tucked away in the remote north-east corner of the state, Mount William National Park is fringed with gorgeous bays stretching from Ansons River to Musselroe Bay. Mt. William National Park was established in the 1970s, in part to provide a refuge for the Forester kangaroo, a Tasmanian subspecies of eastern grey kangaroo which was in grave danger of extinction at the time. Like so much of Tasmania s east coast, the geology of Mt. William is dominated by granite. Due to its high quartz content, granite breaks down into a very pure sand which has formed beautiful white beaches that are one of the features of the park.
There is a large population of marsupials - wombats, Forester kangaroos, Tasmanian pademelons and wallabies, particularly along Forester Drive. With a rich diversity of coastal vegetation boasting spring flowering, the park is an important area for the conservation of Tasmania s coastal heathlands and dry sclerophyll communities or plants. Heath is found on poorer soils, such as those here, which result from weathered granite and wind blown sand.
The Gardens is a picturesque area was named by Lady Jane Franklin, the wife of Governor John Franklin, who spent some time in the region. If your visit to the area is a brief one, the drive along the coast to The Gardens from Binalong Bay is recommended. Along the way are Jenneret Beach, Swimcart Beach, Cosy Corner and Sloop Point, all of which give access to the beach; some have camping facilities. Cosy Corner and Sloop Point have some great photo opportunities.
Called Larapuna in the local Aboriginal language, Eddystone is part of the traditional territory of Tasmanian Aborigines. Aborigines have re-occupied Eddystone Point since 1999 when the Tasmanian Government agreed in principle to the return of Eddystone Point and Mt. William National Park. The point is essentially one huge midden - and there are over ninety individual middens - nearly sixty artefact sites and some burial sites in Mt. William National Park, which surrounds the point. All are unmarked to protect them from being vandalised.
The striking pink granite tower of the Eddystone Point lighthouse was built on the point which juts out into the sea in 1889 in response to many north bound ships being wrecked by coming in too close to the northeast coast of Tasmania. The light was serviced by sea and over the years the landing areas took a battering with jetties having to be rebuilt several times. The lighthouse is in the Mount William National Park. It can be reached by unsealed roads of a fair condition from St Helens or Gladstone (32 km).
Jeanneret Beach is located on the southern side of Round Hill Point and consists of an embayed 250 m long east-southeast-facing beach, bordered by granite rocks and points, with a central rock outcrop. A rip runs out against the southern rocks during higher waves. It is backed by a low grassy foredune with a central car park and camping area behind the northern end of the beach. The Gardens Road is located 300 m to the west. It has parking for 10 vehicles. The secluded and well-sheltered camping sites are nestled in the trees at Round Hill Point. These sites are accessible to larger vans. Swim and snorkel to your heart s content, or hike along the Binalong Bay Coastal Walk. Turn off Gardens Rd, 3.2 km from the Binalong Bay turn-off.
The gorgeous Swimcart cove has secluded and well-sheltered camping sites at its northern end, nestled in the trees at Round Hill Point. These sites are accessible to larger vans. Swim and snorkel to your heart s content, or hike along the Binalong Bay Coastal Walk. Turn off Gardens Rd, 3.2 km from the Binalong Bay turn-off. Swimcart Beach commences at the boundary rocks and creek mouth and trends to the southeast for 1.2 km to Round Hill Point, a 17 m high dune-capped granite point, that extends 300 m seaward. The relatively straight beach receives waves averaging about 1 m, which maintain a low tide terrace with a few rips forming during periods of higher waves. It has parking for 20 vehicles.
Sloping granite rocks fringed by boulders extend 500 m south of the cove to a sloping granite headland on the south side of which is Cosy Corner, a 100 m wide south-facing embayment containing an 80 m long protected reflective beach. Sloping granite points border the beach, with a 50 m wide granite reef off the centre resulting in waves averaging about 0.5 m at the shore. A walking track leads to the rear of the beach, where there is a campsite. One hundred metres of sand and rocks separate two beaches, one of which trends for 400 m south to Old Man Rocks with rocks also scattered along the northern end of the beach. This is a more exposed east-facing beach, with higher waves generating rips to each end of the beach and an occasional central rip. There is vehicle access to the centre of the beach, where there is a camping area, with a second campsite at the southern end adjacent to a small usually blocked lagoon. It has parking for 20 vehicles.
This spot on the point between Taylors Beach and Seaton Cove is everything you imagine Bay of Fires to be: clear blue waves and a deserted curve of pure white beach. There are no toilets here and it is suited to small vehicles only. Take the signposted track off Gardens Rd, 7.4 km from the Binalong Bay intersection. Head left 200 m to a small camping area overlooking the water, or head right 200 m to another small camping area best suited to tents.
The beach at Sloop Point is tucked in a 50 m wide gap in the rocks immediately adjacent to the southern end of the beach and lagoon entrance. It is backed by a low grassy foredune then dense vegetation. While the 50 m long beach faces north and is moderately protected from waves, the main beach surf zone can impinge upon the beach with the permanent southern rip running just outside the rocks. There is a car park (10 spaces) and small camping area above the beach, which is a popular, though potentially hazardous, swimming spot.
The very basic Sloop Lagoon camping area is behind the southern end of Taylors Beach, between Sloop Lagoon and the sea. There are no facilities here. Access is 2.5 km along Old Gardens Rd. Turn left off Gardens Rd (C848) at Cosy Corner.
Seaton Cove is a 100 m wide, 250 m deep U-shaped, east-facing cove surrounded by sloping granite rocks and densely vegetated headlands. The beach is located at the apex of the cove and consists of a 50 m long strip of sand sloping into the rock-dotted sandy bay floor. Waves are lowered by the rocks and points to less than 1 m maintaining a usually reflective to low tide terrace sandy shore. A campsite is located on the northern side of the beach with a row of seven houses located on the southern slopes of the cove.
At Grants Lagoon free camping area you will find an open, grassy area that has boat access to the lagoon and sites suitable for campervans, motorhomes and caravans. A day use area is located nearby with access to the beach. To access Grants Lagoon, head along Binalong Bay Rd, trun left after app. 8 km to the Gardens - the Grants Lagoon track is signposted app. 1.5 km past the turn-off.