The 11,000-hectare Freycinet National Park on the east coast of Tasmania is a tourist’s delight at any time of the year with its orange boulders, white sand and turquoise water.
Freycinet National Park is located on Tasmania’s east coast, 200km north of Hobart and the Bay of Fires, 275km north of Hobart and 185km east of Launceston. The whole state has the air of a quiet country town and matters are less hurried. Despite Tasmania’s reputation for turning its forests into woodchips, large tracts of unspoilt wilderness remain, with some amazing places to visit.
Freycinet National Park information
The cooler coastal climate provides a welcome respite from the summer heat of the mainland and, while winter storms regularly sweep in off the Tasman Sea, the area has a beauty year-round. If planning to travel in summer, bookings are essential.
Numerous bush camp sites are available in the Freycinet and Bay of Fires areas, many with basic amenities. Coles Bay and St Helens both have powered tent and van sites and a range of holiday rental accommodation options. Be aware the camp sites in the Freycinet National Park are allocated by ballot from 18 December to 10 February and Easter. Bush camping is usually free, but within a National Park entry fees will apply. Daily fees are $12 per person or $24 per vehicle while an annual pass for all parks at $70 is a cost-effective alternative if you are staying for several days or planning to visit other National Parks in Tasmania. Passes are available at any National Park Visitor Centre or by written application. An eight-week holiday pass costing $60 can be purchased online.
Freycinet Lodge is the place to stay if you’re not on a tight budget. It has four-star accommodation set within the beautiful Freycinet National Park 200km north of Hobart, and rooms will set you back from $250 to $450 a night for a couple, depending on the time of the year.
The Lodge offers luxury cabin accommodation with 60 units nestled discretely in a bush setting. The main building faces Great Oyster Bay and features a restaurant, bistro, bar and lounge areas.
What to bring
If camping, plan to be totally self-reliant as few amenities are available (including drinking water) once away from the major townships. The weather can be very changeable, so a range of clothing from shorts to jumpers and wet-weather gear is advisable. Insect repellent and sunscreen are both recommended.
Food and fuel
There are no fuel outlets beyond Coles Bay in the Freycinet area or St Helens near the Bay of Fires in the north. A full range of food stuffs and other supplies are available from both Coles Bay and St Helens.
Most roads within Freycinet and the Bay of Fires are bitumen, with only side tracks to camp sites and such being gravel. The Friendly Beach road is also gravel and all roads other than the access track to Bluestone Beach were suitable for two-wheel-drive vehicles.
Freycinet National Park attractions
Freycinet Peninsula and the Bay of Fires areas are among the most popular tourist destinations in Tasmania.
Sleepy Bay is located on the opposite side of the peninsula 2km from the Lodge on the Cape Tourville Road. From the parking bay access to the beach is by way of an easy walk, mostly along a constructed gravel path for about 500 metres and a number of steps down to the water as you approach the beach.
About 200 metres from the car park there is a rocky promontory off to the left that overlooks the bay. It's not signposted (other than by the boot marks of hundreds of photographers), but venture in and you may recognise the view as one that graces many Tasmanian travel brochures. The boulders and rock ledges that fringe the turquoise green sea are painted with the distinctive orange lichen for which this area and the Bay of Fires are famous.
Wineglass Bay Lookout is a Class 3 walk of 1.5km, and, as the name suggests, it provides stunning views over Wineglass Bay. Those seeking a higher level of adventure and prepared to camp out can explore walks that continue on past the lookout and along the east cost of the peninsula or around its point.
Coles Bay township, 2km from Freycinet Lodge on the opposite side of Great Oyster Bay, is a great place to find a more keenly priced meal than the Lodge restaurant. Make sure you book, though, as many Lodge guests head over for lunch and dinner.
Coles Bay also offers a range of holiday rental accommodation for those planning an extended stay.
Friendly Beaches provides miles of white unspoiled sand with beautiful views of the azure sea beyond. There is a camp site (with toilet) providing basic bush camping in individual campsites cut into the vegetation.
For those wishing to camp at Freycinet, there are 19 powered sites and 27 tent sites located behind Richardsons Beach. All sites have access to potable water and an amenities block with cold showers nearby. There are also seven campsites overlooking Honeymoon Beach that involve a bit of a walk to the amenities. Camp sites are allocated by ballot drawn on 1 August for the period from 18 December to 10 February, plus Easter.
Bay of Fires
You could be excused for thinking the Bay of Fires gets its name from the red lichen-covered rocks along the coast. However, it was named by Captain Tobias Furneaux in 1773 after he noticed numerous aboriginal fires along the coast.
It would be easy to spend several days exploring the Bay of Fires area, which is reached by taking the Binalong Bay Road from St Helens and then following a good bitumen road as far as The Gardens, a small collection of fishing shacks at the northern end of the bay.
The area lives up to its reputation with sparkling blue-green seas and whiter-than-white sandy beaches that wouldn't look out of place in tropical north Queensland.
Towns such as St Helens and Binalong Bay offer a range of holiday accommodation or, for the self-sufficient, there are many side tracks as you drive north from Binalong Bay that provide access to the beach, camp sites and lookouts.