I was thankful for my early start this morning because as I drove out of Port Arthur, this is what greeted me….
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so calm and pristine. I was starting to realise exactly why everyone who visited Tasmania was bewitched by her beauty. It was all around you, all the time – Tassie showing you all her gorgeous faces.
As I was too early for breakfast at the Lodge, I decided to grab a bite along the way while I fuelled up the car. Scallop pies are the thing around here. In fact, they are world famous. So tank full, pie in hand, I drive off down the road to find a spot to eat my breakfast. The pie is good, a nice creamy curry sauce and beautifully flaky pastry. I can’t remember ever eating a seafood pie before, but if ever there was a pie to represent Tassie, this is certainly it.
And the view wasn’t half bad either….
A short way out of town, I take a little detour and come across Doo Town where all the homes are quaintly named using the word Doo.
Just past Doo Town are the Blowhole and Tasman Arch. I have now arrived in the Tasman National Park. These are just two of the geological formations that you can find in the park and can be reached by car. I stand for a while just watching the waves crash up against the rocks and hearing the roar of the water. There are sheer drops off the top of the cliffs which reconfirms what a hard time settlers must have had coming to this place they called Australia.
After another two and a half hour’s drive, I reach Coles Bay where I am staying tonight.
This afternoon I have organised to do an ATV (all terrain vehicle) tour with All4Adventure. I am more than a little nervous, cause I’ve never done anything like this and I’m scared about gears and the possibility of falling off. But my mind is set at least partly at ease when my guide, Tim, announces these are automatic bikes, no gears will be involved today. YAY!
Our ride takes place inside the Freycinet National Park and once we have had a tutorial on how to use our bikes and our guide is satisfied that we won’t do any danger to ourselves or the vehicles, off we go. The road is bumpy and filled with little rocks, and large crevices that require avoiding or at least serious navigating. The landscape is scrubby.
There are five of us on this tour and most of us haven’t ridden before, so I don’t feel too bad. In fact, once I got going, the ride felt quite exhilarating. We stop along the way for short chats about the area and whenever there are some challenging patches coming up – our guide then tells us how to expertly navigate them.
Then comes the water. Yep, there’s a large puddle in the middle of our track and Tim tells us this is a great photo opportunity. He rides across with all our cameras in hand and then off we ride, flooring it so as to make a nice big splash whilst trying not to forget that we have no idea what to expect going through this puddle and how much of us will be submerged!
Midway through the ride, we reach our snack stop – a beautiful stretch of beach called Friendly Beach. The beach was thought to be named after the first encounter between European’s and the Aboriginal tribes that lived in the area. Beautiful white sand stretches around the bay, hugging the crystal blue waters. The sun shines on the waters, reflecting like little crystals. It’s inviting enough for a swim, but I have no doubt those waters will be freezing.
Back on the bike, I feel so much more in control and find myself easily being able to navigate some of the tougher parts of the track. I’m proud of myself. This ride was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m so glad I pushed all the ‘what if’s’ out of my mind to give it a go. I loved it.
But I still didn’t think I was dirty or tired enough, so I jumped in the car and headed to the carpark at the bottom of the Wineglass Bay walk. At the tourist bureau they don’t really tell you how hard the hike up to the lookout is, because the truth is, you probably wouldn’t do it. It’s quite a hard hike up through the granite mountains and a few times I almost thought about quitting, but after a quick hit of my asthma puffer, I would launch myself off again, eager to get to the top.
Although you’d be forgiven for thinking that the bay was named for it’s shape being similar to that of a wineglass, this is not where the name came from. It is actually a reference to the days when whales were hunted here and their blood would bleach the sands the colour of red wine.
At the top, tourists happy to have made the trek, snap selfies and look out over the bay with smiles on their faces, thinking ‘I did it’. The walk down the hill is no easy feat either and you need to watch the ground constantly to make sure you don’t miss any of the steps or gravelly patches, but when you get to the bottom of the hill and see little wallabies hanging around the car park, it’s a nice touch.
Tired and very dusty and dirty, I arrived at my accommodation for the night – Freycinet Lodge – which is set in the Freycinet National Park. With the daylight starting to disappear, my little hut along the end of a boardwalk looked a little creepy, surrounded as it was with lanky, spindly ghost like trees. Inside it had everything you could want though – including nice cold beer and an even nicer hot shower!
So the hut may not have been much to look at from the outside, but the views from the bay a few minutes walk away, as the sun set into the sea….