Freycinet Peninsula - Nature's Showpiece
The Tasmanian coastline is known as some of the most beautiful in the world, so to be revered as the best stretch of shore within the island state is no ordinary accomplishment. That distinction belongs to the Freycinet Peninsula, an east coast destination whose dramatic beauty goes unrivalled in Tasmania- in fact many would say no where in the world can match it. The pink granite cliff faces of the Hazards Mountain Range tumble into the crystal clear blue of the Southern Ocean here, creating contrasts that collectively take the breath away of the thousands of tourists that visit each year. Add into the equation attractions such as Wineglass Bay, Schouten Island and Hazards Beach and you have a premier tourist destination that will amaze and intrigue you with its natural beauty.

The Peninsula is preserved by the Freycinet National Park, (one of the two oldest parks on the island), which covers the whole coastline and the mountains inland. The Park is reached by a two and a half hour drive north from Hobart, or roughly the same distance south from Launceston. The town of Coles Bay is situated at its northern edge, and is the most popular place for visitors to base themselves and explore the rest of the park from. There are numerous accommodation options and all the modern facilities you need, and the nearby Visitors Centre uses intriguing exhibitions to introduce you to the culture and attractions of the region.

From Coles Bay the attention grabbing features of the National Park are easily reached by car. The most popular and the most photographed of these is Wineglass Bay, which consists of a stunning crescent-shaped beach surrounded by two headlands on either side that jut out into the ocean to create the shape of a wineglass. The beach has been voted many times by travel authorities as one of the top ten in the world, an acknowledgement assisted by the squeaky clean sand, the azure waters and the isolated feel of the beach. Scuba diving and snorkelling is popular here, as is sea kayaking next to the rocky cliffs of the headlands. Towering up behind the Bay is the red granite hulk of Mount Amos. An easy round trip of two hours will take you to the lookout on Amos which provides the most spectacular view of the bay and the surrounding coastline- well worth the effort!

Wineglass Bay is not alone on the Peninsula- there are a number of other dazzling beaches to keep it company and add to the diversity of the region. Hazards beach is one of these, and behind it lies the imposing Mt Freycinet which is popular amongst bushwalkers. Another place that is popular amongst bushwalkers is Sleepy Bay, which is easily reached via well graded paths so is accessible by most people, no matter what their fitness levels. Its rocky shoreline is often subjected to wild seas, which can be quite spectacular. A half hour walk from here lies Little Gravelly Beach, which is tucked into a delightful cove where you are unlikely to bump into other tourists.

A place where you are even more unlikely to bump into tourists is Schouten Island. This can be reached by sea kayak, a journey where you are likely to bump into dolphins, turtles and lots of birdlife. Once you reach the island your wildlife experience continues, as it is alive with all manner of Australian animals. The underwater life is just as spectacular, so snorkelling is popular here, as is diving. The isolation is truly magical, and you will have miles of shoreline and oceanfront to yourself. Tours are available to and around the island, just enquire at the visitor centre.

Many people choose to camp when they come to Freycinet, as sleeping out under the stars seems to perfectly complement the natural beauty of the area. There are powered and unpowered campsites throughout the park, but as it is so popular over the summer spots are determined by a ballot which is drawn in August. If you are not successful in the ballot there are many other options to choose from, so dont panic. Wherever you stay you will get the opportunity to enjoy the amazing seafoods that comes out of the ocean in this part of the world- Wineglass Bay oysters are especially popular. The wines produced on the Tasmanian East Coast are also exceptionally good, so prepare yourself for a fine dining extravaganza! Prepare yourself too for the holiday of your dreams, a feast of nature that will leave you relaxed, refreshed and dying to come back!

Gavin Wyatt