Tasmania Australia Luxury and Wilderness Experience: Freycinet National Park and Freycinet Lodge
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HobartOur trip started in Hobart (the capital of Tasmania, Australia) airport in the early hours and within seconds we were in our hire car for the 10 minute trip into the city to check out the Salamanca markets. It was Saturday in Hobart, and this the traditional market day. Everyone was there gathered in Salamanca Place for the crafts, food and atmosphere. Buskers and harp music added to the scene as we ate a 'gypsy' burger for breakfast. The aroma and long queues promised it was good fare. Local woolen hats and scarves and row upon row of native wood-turned products were among the items that kept our interest. We looked up the 'alley of stalls' stretching as far as the eye could see. As much as we would like to see more, we were eager to move up the coast...as one of the top 10 beaches in the world was waiting for us.
Around the corner at the local harbour and marina we had passed enroute to the markets we found a pleasant spot with moored boats gently bobbed with the waters motion. Alongside is an array of converted period buildings. A highlight -- and ticked as 'must stay here next time' -- was a converted jam factory named Henry Jones Art Hotel. Artisans and artifacts amidst your accommodation.
Freycinet National Park and Freycinet LodgeWith a stop at on the left at the roadside for Spiky Bridge, a remnant of convict days -- we soon took a right turn to Coles Bay township and entered Freycinet National Park and the Freycinet Lodge.
The Lodge is the only accommodation in the national park. This 10,000 hectare park is on a peninsula of prime wilderness forest surrounded by water. Parking is in designated carparks and it's a walk on well marked tracks. After checking in to the Lodge and a quick briefing on the local attractions, we hurriedly had a late lunch and a Tassie (as Tasmania is affectionately known) brew eager to begin our 2-hour return climb on Mt Amos to Wineglass Bay lookout. Wineglass Bay is rated one of the top 10 beaches in the world ... and no wonder. Its remoteness is its appeal.
The walk is of moderate difficulty and generally upwards, but there is plenty of opportunity to take a breath as you survey the scenery. Rocky granite outcrops, varied vegetation and sweeping panoramas. The view from the lookout of the wineglass shaped bay below was truly inviting.
Feeling more daring and have the time? Then continue on down to the bay and crisp white sand of the beach itself. Although this adds another 2 hours to the trip, few people make the effort and you usually have the beach to yourself. White sand, aqua water, mountains surrounding you ... alone except for the sound of the surf. Rightfully a top 10 beach.
If you can make yourself leave, you can return along the same path or continue across toward the other side of the narrow peninsula making a loop walk back to the carpark. But why leave. Do as some nearby campers had done and bring sleeping bag and small tent for an overnight stay -- don't forget you will have to carry this yourself, no porters here. But worth the perspiration as you get the two best views in the world -- Wineglass Bay at sunset and sunrise. A photographers' haven, nature lovers paradise or just a great spot.
Enough walking, drinks and food beckoned back us to the Lodge as evening approached. A drink on the expansive al fresco area as the sun set on Coles Bay was our reward for a full but varied day. We chose the exclusive in-house restaurant to dine -- a special treat for our feet - rather than the more family oriented Bistro where we had lunch. We started with the best (local) oysters ever eaten -- the peninsula is after all on Great Oyster Bay -- with the tempura oysters absolutely melting on the tongue. Lamb and duck for mains accompanied by fabulous Tasmanian wines no less. The final difficult decision was which dessert.
On the short walk to our tree-secluded cabin and welcome bed we came upon a friendly Tasmanian Devil -- a local inhabitant of the animal kind. The Tassie Devil is the only carnivorous marsupial in the world but is on the endangered species list with a particular cancer decimating large populations.
The best night's sleep and early breakfast saw us on our way to another wilderness area Cradle Mt and Dove Lake. A comfortable 3 hours drive inland west, but allow six to take in the sights along the way.
If You GoTasmania is ideal as a drive yourself destination. Well signposted and condensed. Be it for 3 weeks or 3 days, as we did on the weekend, there is so much to see both on and off the track if you are prepared to do some walking. While we had approached Freycinet Lodge after a relatively short 200klm leisurely drive north from the State's capital city, an alternative route is to fly into Launceston at the north of Tasmania and drive the same distance south -- but then you will miss the markets!
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As an optometrist of many years, Ian Robertson has turned to photograph. "I am used to interpreting the effect of light and images on a person's eyes much as a photographer interprets light to create an image." Words and photographs by Ian Robertson IanRobertsonPhotography.com
Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author