Freycinet & The Bay of Fires

When we first agreed to visit Tassie over a Christmas/New-Year, we underestimated the size of the island, ignorantly thinking we could ‘do Tassie’ in 11 days. Truth be told, we have barely touched the sides, having not even covered one coastline with any level of depth. The great thing is we have seen some of the state’s best, and been given a taste of what this awesome place has to offer.

Kirra and Marcus (sister and brother in-law) have added their little legend, Matty, to their clan recently, and were looking for a family holiday as a test-run for their US holiday later in 2018. Having never been to Tassie either, we were over the moon when they asked to join us for a few nights near Freycinet National Park.

So we booked a beach pad, 20 mins north or Bicheno (a sleepy fishing village) in a ‘town’ called Seymour.

Seymour

On the way into Seymour you pass Seymour Cemetery. Now I’m not sure how long the cemetery has been there, but I counted 4 headstones – that should give you some sort of idea of the size of this place.

Our pad was a beauty – built on stilts, and overlooking Seymour Beach, only a few minutes walk away. It had a massive 360 deck, and you could sleep with your door open (we did), and let the noise of the gentle waves sing you to sleep.

Fairy Penguins

The house owner had mentioned there should be penguins on the beach as this time of year – an amazing surprise, and not something I associated with this part of Tassie. Makes sense when you think about it though, I guess.

On the first night, with Matty tucked up and dreaming of milk waterfalls, Kiz, Marcus, Liv and I headed off at dusk, headlamps on and torches in-hand, in search of the Fairy Penguins we failed to find on Bruny Island.

Siri told me that sunset was at 8:44pm and last light would be 9:18pm. To me that equals dusk, so we timed our exploration and left at 8:40pm to find our spot on the deserted beach. The sky was producing some beautiful colour, and we patiently played the waiting game, with darkness seemingly seconds away. 8:44pm came and went, as did 9:18pm, still no penguins. Maybe we were in the wrong spot? What a terrible father I was, promising penguins twice, and failing on both occasions.

We continued to wait, losing patience by the minute, despite the six or so prey birds circling overhead. Surely they knew something, and were waiting for the same thing as us…?

Shortly after the clock struck 10pm (who am I kidding, there’s no town clock in Seymour), we decided we’d waited long enough, the penguins weren’t coming. So we packed up and started on our way back home.

Just as we were leaving, everything started to happen at once. A ruffle and spot of black and white in the bushes, and movement 50 metres down the beach. Then Marcus called it, “I found one!” as he shone his torch towards shore. There it was, our first penguin bellying into the beach. From then on, finding them became easy, so much so that when we finally decided to leave, we had to give way to one on the walking path ahead of us. Penguins are one of Liv and my favourite animals, so we were equally delighted to see these little legends. Fairy Penguins are one of the smaller species, and their fur (or feathers?) is surprisingly blue.

To top things off, after giving way to Pengu on the way home, we were impressed to spot a fellow wombat race across the track in front of us. Two of our favourites in a night – winning.

Freycinet National Park / Wineglass Bay

No one loves a sunrise and sunset more than me (Davo). I have and will continue to chase and photograph sunrises/sunsets to (almost) no end, especially over the next year. For the past month or so I’ve had this dream of watching the sun come up over Wineglass Bay, to bring in the new year. Prior to leaving Sydney I went as far as securing some head-torches, allowing us to hike in the dark either before sunrise or after sunset.

As the dream came closer to reality, a few hard truths hit me:

1. Summer days in Tassie are longer than a piece of string, meaning I would either need to get up or go to bed at stupid o’clock.

2. I have no prior hiking experience.

3. We were actually staying about an hour from the beginning of the hike.

So with these in-mind, I settled for a far more practical approach of hiking as a team on a cracking day. And so we did, on New Year’s Eve, the six of us, made our way to the renowned Freycinet National Park and hiked up to the lookout, and beyond down to the famous beach.

The view from the top was just like the postcards, totally worth the sore calves.

Sadly the wind was coming directly into the bay, so after a hilarious failed attempt at setting up a shelter for young Matty, we settled for a sun/shade spot near the back of the beach. And there we stayed for an hour or so, swimming and ‘laxin’ (Liv’s pronunciation of ‘relaxing’), eating, until we made our return. Holy hell, it’s tough hiking uphill with 20kg (Liv) on your back!

It’s worth noting that, despite hating on them for years, we broke our selfie-stick virginity at the lookout. A big thanks to May Tran (work friend) for the departing gift, I must say it works well and we’re converted 🙂

Bay of Fires

We’re still not entirely sure why it’s called the Bay of Fires, which is nothing a quick Wiki search wouldn’t yield, but hey, meh. Between the four of us (Loz, Kiz, Marcus and I), we decided it’s to do with the colour of the rocks. All along the coastline the rocks are covered in red, like fire. I seem to recall our skipper on the Bruny boat highlighting this, and suggesting it was the perfect mix between fungae and algae. I have as much confidence in our conclusion as I do on the future of cryptocurrencies, so let’s not go banking any houses on it.

We had heard this was a must-do on Tassie’s NE coast, so the wombats took a drive up the coast to see what all the fuss was about. The Gridley’s had already been there, done that, so they had a chill day at home.

The entire coastline between Bicheno and (very likely beyond) the Bay of Fires is awesome. My cousin, Alexander, had pointed out that these were Australia’s nicest beaches, and he wasn’t kidding. You could take your pick of which private beach you wanted, and easily spend days, weeks, months free-camping by the seaside, just awesome.

The Bay of Fires itself is a gorgeous specimen; sand as white as a Bruny Wallaby, and water as clear as Europcar’s Bruny Ferry policy. And the red rocks add the perfect foreground for plenty of photos, way too many and monotonous to show. But here’s a few…

NatureWorld

Despite seeing more wildlife than David Attenborough on this trip, we had yet to cross with one of Tassie’s most famous draw-cards, the Tasmanian Devil. What a name! Could you imagine the pressure these little dudes feel every time someone sees them for the first time?! Oi Jim, the tourists are here again, time to get the fangs out and do our evil shit. Their reputation precedes them, but I’ll tell you what; they do look like nasty little Devils. Although I did manage to cut the tension a little by telling a joke, which this guy (below) seemed to enjoy.

NatureWorld was only 10 minutes down the road from our house, so it was too good of an opportunity not to check it out. Apart from the Devils, there were plenty of highlights, including; Livvy hand-feeding the kangaroos, the wombats (always a highlight), the white peacocks (yep, awesome), and the birds nicknamed Pig Geese, because they sound like pigs when they get angry.

A great way to conclude a great stay, and our time in Tassie.