Situated at the northern edge of the Freycinet National Park, Coles Bay is the service town and entry point for this wonderful National Park. As such it is well served by accommodation, caravan sites and camping facilities. It is one of the justifiably famous wilderness beauty spots on Tasmania s east coast.
The town came into being in 1934 when it began to become a popular haunt for fishermen and bushwalkers. Coles Bay is also the major tourist centre on Tasmania s east coast and though it has plenty of holiday accommodation, the increased popularity of the Freycinet Peninsula as a tourist destination has meant you need to book ahead if you intend staying here overnight or longer.
Where Is it?: 202 km north east of Hobart and 218 km south east of Launceston
Click or tap a heading below for more information. Click or tap the heading again to hide the information
The Freycinet Peninsula is noted for its spectacular coastal scenery and its emphasis on fishing, boating, bushwalking and swimming. As the brochure Let s Talk about Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park declares: Where else would you find granite mountains rising straight from the sea to form a magnificent sheltered waterway?
'Where else would you find a beach so beautiful and secluded that on its last Royal visit to Australia, the Royal Yacht Britannia anchored to allow the Queen ashore for an Australian-style beach barbecue?' This latter event is still talked about by the locals and, when you have seen Wineglass Bay where the picnic took place, you can understand the romantic notion of such an activity.
The appealing quality of Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park is that they haven t really changed in fifty years. Today people still come to the area to get away from it all. They fish in the waters of Great Oyster Bay, which are still rich in trevally, flathead, crayfish and trumpeter. They walk into the park and climb the Hazards or the mountains to the south, both of which offer marvellous views across the bay and out across the Tasman Sea. And they drive on the rough roads through the National Park stopping for a spectacular view or pulling off the road to go swimming in the clear, safe waters of the bay.
In its own way Freycinet National Park is one of Australia s most interesting wilderness areas where else in the world do you see red granite cliffs tumbling into the cold ocean? This 10 000 ha park is alive with unusual animals Tasmanian pademelons, white-breasted sea eagles, red-necked wallabies and in season offers spectacular displays of rare native flora, notably a wide variety of native orchids. It is fair to say that it is one of the country s most spectacularly beautiful areas and when the weather is perfect it is hard to imagine a more peaceful and awe-inspiring piece of coastline.
When you enter Freycinet there is a brochure which provides a map and advice on a series of walks. These walks include an easy ten minute walk to the beach and rocks around Sleepy Bay. The Bay is on the route to Cape Tourville and the walk down to the rocks is easy and enjoyable. The kelp on the rocks is particularly impressive. There is also a walk to Little Gravelly Beach, a tiny beach nestled between two craggy headlands. This is a 30 minute walk with the final stretch from the top of the cliffs to the beach being quite steep. The most popular walk by far is to the lookout over Wineglass Bay. There are a number of ways to see the Bay. There is a medium walk of 1 1/2-2 hours which takes the walker to the lookout. There is also a 3-4 hour walk which goes to the lookout then continues on to the beach. It returns by the same route. The final route is 5 hours and is a circuit via the lookout and the beach and back to the main carpark. There are many more walks of varying difficulty in the park. It is hard to imagine a more attractive option than staying for a week in the outstanding, award-winning Freycinet Lodge and spending each day attempting a different walk.
The most popular activities in Freycinet National Park are bushwalking and scenic views. A good starting point is to drive to Cape Tourville. The 6.4 km dirt road, while hardly amazing, is perfectly adequate for conventional vehicles. The views are spectacular. Follow the short boardwalked track around the cliff line to the lighthouse. Although Wineglass Bay is hidden by Mount Parsons, there is a dramatic view across Thouin Bay to Lemon Rock and Cape Forestier. There are several lookouts to take in the views from and on a clear day you can see for miles. its only a short and level walk (20 minutes return) that can be easily managed without too much effort so it is a good place for all families to visit and take in the spectacular scenery.
The lighthouse at Cape Tourville was constructed in 1971 to replace the inaccessable Cape Forestier Lighthouse which was decommissioned the same year. The lighthouse was constructed as an automatic light and was never manned.
A mountain chain opposite Coles Bay in Freycinet National Park, The Hazards are made of granite. Orthoclase, a pink feldspar, gives the mountains their pink tint. The four mountains in the group from west to east are Mayson, Amos, Dove and Parsons. The track to Wineglass Bay and its famous lookout runs over the saddle between Mounts Mayson and Amos. The Hazards are said to be named after local whaler, African-American Captain Richard Hazard.
Part of the Freycinet National Park, Schouten Island is a large rugged island off the southern tip of Freycinet Peninsula. During the early colonial days, the island was used first as a base for whalers and sealers, and later exploited for its coal and tin deposits. Today the island is uninhabited, so if you go there to explore its stunning coastline or its mountain peaks, you may well have the island to yourself.