Freycinet National Park

Jutting out between The Tasman Sea and Great Oyster Bay on Tasmania s east coast, the Freycinet Peninsula is a rugged and beautiful stretch of land, noted for its white-sand beaches, secluded coves, panoramic vistas, rocky cliffs and excellent bushwalks through the Freycinet National Park.

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.

Whilst there are activities around Coles Bay, most of what the peninsula has to offer must be reached on foot  no vehicles are allowed beyond the Coles Bay area. Freycinet National Park has a series of wonderful bushwalks  many of which are part of Tasmania s Great Short Walks. The most popular walk is the 1  1.5 hours return trek to Wineglass Bay lookout.

This is a steep uphill walk on a rocky, well-constructed track, but the world famous view from the top is worth every step. The crystal clear waters and white sandy beach of Wineglass Bay are a tremendous sight. 6 km outside town and inside the national park is the Cape Tourville Lighthouse, which allows extensive views north and south along the coast and across several of the small islands in the Tasman Ocean.

Whale-watching cruises operate between June and September, bay and game fishing, dolphin-watching, diving, scenic and marine wildlife cruises, and sunset cruises.

Where Is it?: 202 km north east of Hobart and 218 km south east of Launceston

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Coles Bay

Coles Bay is a tiny settlement that is the accommodation centre for visitors to Freycinet National Park. 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.

Freycinet Peninsula Walks

With generally fine weather, almost no mud and good tracks, the Freycinet Peninsula has long been one of the most popular walking places in Tasmasnia. A peninsula of magnificent red granite with many deep bays, perfect sandy beaches and extensive sweeps of exposed red granite, it is easy to see why this is so popular among walkers. All walks commence and finish at the Parks and Wildlife Service Visitor Centre at Coles Bay. Located within the entrance to the park, the centre introduces the natural and cultural heritage of this region through creative displays.

Wineglass Bay Lookout: 1 hour return - This walk will give you one of Tasmania s most celebrated views over the beautiful white sands of Wineglass Bay. The track is a short, fairly steep climb to the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson. From the saddle, a side track leads to a new lookout, with spectacular views over Wineglass Bay. When returning to the carpark, take care on the downhill sections as the loose gravel surface can be slippery.

Friendly Beaches

Scenic Lookout, Friendly Beaches: 5 minutes return - The signposted parking area is just off the Isaacs Point Road. After a short walk to the vantage point you can see uninterrupted views of the Friendly Beaches and its wonderful dune system.

Saltwater Lagoon, Friendly Beaches: 40 minutes return - Follow the signs from the Isaacs Point road south to the carpark at the barrier gate. The walk along an old vehicular track traverses private property and ends at the edge of the Lagoon. The Lagoon abounds with waterfowl, particularly black swans. Return by the same route. Spectacular views and miles of unspoiled white sand beaches are the main features of The Friendly Beaches, which were added to the national park in 1992. Alternatively, the beaches can be reached via a signposted turnoff on the Coles Bay Road.

Wineglass Bay

Wineglass Bay Circuit: Wineglass Bay - 2 1/2 hours return: As for the Wineglass Bay lookout walk, then continue on downhill to this superb bay with its long white sandy beach and crystal clear seas. A 20 minute walk along the beach to its southern end will give you magnificent views of the Hazards. Return to the carpark via the same route, or make the circuit route described below.

Peninsula Circuit: This walk takes in the whole peninsula, including the Wineglass Bay and Hazard Circuit Great Short Walks. The 30 kilometre Freycinet Peninsula Circuit travels around the Hazard Mountains to Hazards Beach. The track continues south to Cooks and Bryans Beaches. Walkers then cross the Peninsula over a heathland plateau next to Mount Freycinet where spectacular views are possible before descending to the white, quartz sands of Wineglass Bay. Walkers should allow at least two days to complete the trip  although the trip can be longer depending on the number of restful days you have on the beach.

Mt Amos

Mt Amos: 3 hours return - Mt Amos is part of the range of granite mountains, known as the Hazards, which dominate Coles Bay. The track to the summit is steep and strenuous, but walkers are rewarded with panoramic views. This walk is not recommended for the elderly or young children. Walkers must be equipped with robust walking shoes or boots as the track climbs steeply over sheets of bare rock and can be slippery, especially after rain. Caution should be exercised on this track.

Sleepy Bay: 10 minutes return - Drive to the signposted turnoff to the left, just past Freycinet Lodge. Stop at the carpark at Sleepy Bay. Gently graded steps lead to the rocky shoreline of Sleepy Bay which, despite its name, often experiences wild and rough seas.

Little Gravelly Beach, Sleepy Bay: 30 minutes return - After enjoying the seascape above Sleepy Bay, follow the track that leads to the right. This provides beautiful coastal views before a steep descent to this delightful cove. While the track is easy to follow, it is rough underfoot in and passes close to some high cliff tops.

Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach circuit: 4 to 5 hours  After enjoying the delights of Wineglass Bay you cross the isthmus to Hazards Beach. To get there turn right from the Wineglass Bay track just before the Wineglass Bay Beach. After half an hour of flat walking, you reach Hazards Beach. Turn right and follow the beach to its northern end. Here you join up with another track that follows the coastline for about 5 1/2 kilometres around the base of Mt Mayson before reaching the carpark. This is about an 11km walk.

Hazards Beach: 5 to 6 hours return  After reaching Hazards Beach walk south along this lengthy shore. You are following in the footsteps of the Aboriginal people who once lived here, as is evident from the numerous shell middens in the dunes along the beach. After retracing your steps along the beach take your choice of returning the way you came (shorter by about an hour) or the Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach circuit, to return to the carpark.

Schouten Island

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.