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Gold Coast, Australia
October 22, 2004
We walked the 2.5-hour return walk to the bay, which passed huge boulders and was all uphill to reach the lookout (the halfway point). The view was magic-Wineglass Bay with the Hazards (small rocky mountains) in the background. You can continue to do the longer walk around the hazards, but it will turn into a good 5-hour walk.
There was a group of elderly people there having lunch at the lookout, so anyone would be able to attempt this walk, at least those who have no walking difficulties. You then walk downhill to the beach area that has beautiful clear water, which my partner decided he had to swim in. It was freezing of course, but a great spot to refuel and take a picnic lunch.
The walk back to the lookout was all uphill, so it was a little tiring, but fortunately the last leg was an easy stroll back down to the car park area.
There are toilets there, but ensure you take plenty of water and a hat of course.
From journal More than the 'Apple Isle'
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
January 19, 2003
Inland, the surprises continue. Forested mountains shaped like elephants reveal fertile valleys and unique national-park wilderness, and have even inspired one of Tasmania’s icon eateries. Come for a drive--oh, and bring your appetite!
These are my favorite days on a driving holiday. Days traveling between destinations, where the excitement is the journey, the thrill of exploring.
At Freycinet Vineyard, Lindy is putting out the "open" sign and we wander in for a too-early pick-me-up. Lindy’s father, Geoff Bull, pioneered wine production in the area, and today the vineyard produces some of Tasmania’s finest pinot noir, chardonnay, and Riesling. A booty of chardonnay complements our picnic goodies.
Seaside towns spring from the landscape, tiny 500-person sanctuaries stuck in a time warp, and we stop in Bicheno to enjoy the coastal wonders. A clifftop walk fringes the town, offering extensive views in a moonscape dominated by granite boulders and orange lichen.
North of town, a gravel road turns west through flat farmland to Douglas-Aspley National Park, a region of incredible contrasts. Dramatic gorges and waterfalls attract serious hikers to this untouched wilderness, but our short walk follows eucalypt forest to a picnic spot by the vivid, emerald-green display of Aspley Waterhole. Cheese, crusty bread, olives, and Freycinet chardonnay. Life’s tough.
Refueled and revitalized, we rejoin the coast before turning inland again for the steep climb through the Mount Nicholas range to our after-picnic pilgrimage site. Mount Elephant Pancake Barn is an icon, named after the pachyderm-shaped mountain shadowing it and serving pancakes as big as the name suggests.
We decide on valley views of rain forest from the glassed interior instead of the alfresco garden--too cool up here, despite the sunny autumn weather. Back by popular demand are the salmon, camembert, and mushroom crepes in a white-wine sauce, and they are as memorable as they sound. Big? "Drape off the plate," as the menu says, and there were no leftovers. Memorable also was promise of a $2.20 surcharge for rowdy children and recent donation of $10,000 to the Fred Hollows foundation.
Behind the pancake barn, a dirt road leads to Blueberry Cottage, an enchanting farm owned by Trudi and Dave Matthews that opens its stunning garden to visitors between September and April. Dave does most of the gardening and Trudi’s creative talents offer fruit preserves and plant seeds, finely crafted souvenirs and toys.
Armed with more goodies, we wave goodbye, picking up the coast road again and passing more seaside villages as dark storm clouds pursue us toward our destination, an atmospheric contrast of indigo and white emphasizing the dunescape. At Scamander, we surrender, stopping to photograph it, to feel it.
Yeah, I love these days.
From journal Australia's Great Southern Island (Into The Sunset)
Freycinet Peninsula is one of Tasmania’s showcase destinations. It’s 22 degrees Celsius in late autumn and the sky reflects the cobalt sea. One kilometre from our cabin’s sundeck in the Iluka Holiday Centre is the national park entrance--our gateway to adventure. We didn’t abseil, but we did climb those granite giants, and we did a lot more, too. Here are some of the highlights.
Life’s a Beach…
At the tiny ranger’s office Alison hands us a map, adding that the new Visitor Centre, although behind schedule, should be finished by spring 2002. A short drive leads to the walking track car park and a range of attractions:
**** Honeymoon Bay. Flanked by the granite peaks of The Hazards, this small inlet and beach dazzles with contrasting colours and textures. Fascinating rock formations and fringing bushland combine with the clear, shallow waters and surrounding peaks to create a secluded, romantic mood--hence the name.
Dave’s recommendation: picnics, swimming, romance.
**** Sleepy Bay/Gravelly Beach. The Sleepy Bay lookout provides delightful views down the peninsula, but the highlight is the 20-minute descent through coastal scrub to a gorgeous rocky cove. The beach is gravel, pounded by the surf until it is impossibly fine. Surrounded by smooth, granite boulders that shelter vast kelp forests and scuttling marine creatures, this feels like a magical place.
Dave’s recommendation: sunbaking, exploring, romance.
***** Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach. This 7-mile circuit walk has it all. It’s one of Tasmania’s finest, but it’s thirsty work. Allow a full day and take a picnic, plenty of water, and be prepared to swim. The climb across The Hazards is steep, but justified by the panorama of Wineglass Bay and the contrasting landscape of red-granite cliffs, flowering scrubland, and aromatic, towering eucalypts.
All expectations are exceeded when you reach the sand. Wineglass Bay is consistently voted one of the world’s 10 best beaches. Today it’s extra special, a pod of dolphins is visiting and the opportunity to swim with them is irresistible. My entire body tingles--it’s like being five years old again.
A short walk across a shady isthmus, a haven for wallabies and cockatoos, leads to Hazards Beach. Littered with Aboriginal middens, the translucent waters here also tempt, a tonic for the return journey along the sheer western flanks of The Hazards, watching seals cavort in the bay below.
Dave’s recommendation: swimming, picnics, exploring, romance.
**** Friendly Beaches. Ten minutes north of Coles Bay, a dirt road leads to a stretch of white sand that hypnotises and seduces. There are miles of uninterrupted shoreline, where the water is so clean that forests of Bull Kelp thrive like few other places on earth. And you’ll probably have it to yourself.
Dave’s recommendation: swimming, picnics, beachcombing, romance.
Pick the common thread? It’s difficult to visit Freycinet and not be romanced.
November 10, 2000
From journal Tasmania in Winter
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
October 16, 2000
From journal Meeting the Tasmanian Devil