Looking for a breathtaking day hike in Tasmania’s East Coast? Check out this stunning walk in Freycinet National Park, and leave the tourists behind as you head down to the beach at Wineglass Bay.
Tasmania is full of breathtaking natural beauty, in fact about 40% of the state is either national park land or state forest. With so many options, I did heaps of reading on the various hike, using the National Parks and Short Walks AU as my guides, and hiking Wineglass Bay found its way to the to of our list.
Wineglass Bay Lookout
The National Parks site temptingly describes Freycinet and Wineglass Bay as “the jewel of Tasmania’s stunning coastline.” I was especially captivated by the idea that these crystal clear blue waters and gorgeous sandy just might be empty, a welcome change from the sea of holiday-goers on Sydney beaches this time of year. Better yet, they would not be empty because of saltwater crocodiles like many of the beaches we saw in north Queensland. If that wasn’t enough, my decision solidified as I read through some of the less enticing park descriptions, such as Douglas-Apsley, which boasts “diverse dry sclerophyll forests” or Ben Lomonds which is a can’t miss because of it’s “dolerite cliffs and a stark alpine plateau.”
As I mentioned in a previous post, our planned itinerary ran a few hours behind, so we arrived at Freycinet National park around 2:00pm, with five hours for a hike, find dinner, and make our way on to Weegena. It was certainly less time than we preferred, but at the very least, we could trek the 60 minute loop from the parking lot to Wineglass Bay lookout.
Stopping at the information centre for park passes, we realised we were short on water. Fortunately they had a filtered tap available, which they charges a dollar per bottle. We recommend chugging a bit and topping up because the walk is hot and dusty. Quite a few people became thirsty enough to ignore the “not safe to drink” signs adorning trailhead spigots near the bathrooms.
After parking, we spotted our first live Wallaby of the trip(!!!!!). My excitement was extra high after passing many mangled corpses on the drive.
We packed CZ in the Kelty and walked through huge boulders, and into the blinding sun. The first stop is really an appetizer for what’s ahead, but Cole’s Bay was certainly a good enough background for a quick family photo.
Tourists crowded the path most of the walk up, and the Wineglass Bay overlook was full on chaos. The area is not very large, and fellow sightseers buzzed around with cameras and irresponsibly feeding the wildlife. (The wallaby did not complain.) We spent a few minutes enjoying the view, before heading back to the trail.
Hiking to Wineglass Bay
Back at the trail, we had a decision to make: follow the masses back to the parking lot, or take the road less traveled down to the water. The additional hike to the beach estimated a 90 minute return, and despite being 4pm, we were three travelers. Three travellers determined to feel the sand between their toes.
The path to the beach is much steeper and less forgiving on the knees than the overlook loop, but still manageable. Having much less than a day, we opted to hustle down to the water, instead of savouring the trail, and we made it to the beach in 30 minutes. We were very impressed with our speediness, until a sign informed us the return was estimated at a full hour – upon reflection, it is reasonable that descending is a tad quicker than ascending.
The water is as gorgeously blue and beautiful up close as it is from above. The empty beach, save a few other committed hikers, contrasted with the clamoring crowds above. A small group of lively tourists splashed in the water, but JZ and I could barely handle our toes in the breathtakingly cold water. CZ happily played in the sand and rocks, while JZ setup the tripod for family photos. Overall, the extended hike fulfilled our desire for a calm, remote Tassie beach experience.
With daylight slipping away, we hoofed it up to the car. The return trip served as a cardio and strength workout; my legs felt like jelly towards the middle, and I wasn’t even carrying the CZ pack. We reached the parking lot in a triumphant 50 minutes, totally parched and extremely sweaty. Unfortunately, the rangers station already closed, so we had to wait until dinner for water bottle refills. In hindsight, we learned that three 24oz bottles are insufficient for summer hiking.
For dinner, we splurged at Richardson’s Bistro adjacent to the luxurious Freycinet lodge. Thankfully, the food was delicious and the water bottomless. Satisfied and refreshed, we loaded up and chased the setting sun to Weegena.