OZ and Tassie travel blog

Wineglass Bay Lookout

Our friendly kookaburra

Coles Bay 2

28 January

A beautiful morning, completely cloudless but with a strong breeze. We checked the bush fire situation then left,early-ish, to travel north to visit the Bay of Fires. A small echidna walked across the road in front of us, managing to avoid being hit by two cars travelling in the opposite direction to us. We stopped to allow it to reach safety. On to Bicheno, bought a few things for lunch then drove on again, beautiful drive along the Great Eastern Drive, occasional glimpses of the ocean and in parts right alongside the ocean with beautiful white beaches and deep blue and turquoise ocean, wonderful.

We stopped again in St Helens for coffee, as Ruth felt in need of one! Nice little town, spread around Georges Bay, a great setting. On again, past Binalong Bay until we reached The Gardens, again past beautiful sea scapes, little coves, long beaches, huge piles of boulders, headlands; a wonderful drive. We stopped at The Gardens, the end of the road and walked along to the lookout. The wind was howling across the bay, nearly lost my hat! Great views north and south of absolutely beautiful gleaming white beaches, waves crashing in, granite boulders and very few people. We wandered around a bit just enjoying the hot sunshine, it was 27 degrees and the wind though strong was warm. The farmland here was mostly to grass now all brown, and with the strange ‘lollipop’-looking trees it almost looked African.

We now headed south, back along the Great Eastern Drive looking for the perfect spot for lunch. Taylors Beach, the first beach going south was beautiful (an overused word today, but all true!), a great sweep of white sand with occasional piles of granite boulders, the sea alternately deep blue and turquoise. Too windy here to sit and eat so we drove on. Just on the promontory at Sloop Rock, we found a tine secluded bay at Seaton Cove, not much of a beach and very bouldery there was shade under a large tree and we sat, ate lunch and enjoyed the view.

The beaches at Honeymoon Beach, Cosy Corner North, and South beaches and Swimcart Beach all accessed by tracks from the coast road were all too windy to explore much, with strong gusts blowing the very fine sand around. On a calm day they each would have been perfect. All beautiful nonetheless.

We drove on the Binalong Bay, another nice little settlement, lots of holiday homes, we followed the road to Humbug Point and found Dora Point overlooking St Helens Point, an area of shallow water and white crystalline sands and the entrance to Georges Bay. We returned to the coast road and reached St Helens turning off the main highway to head out for Stieglitz, Akaroa and St Helens Point. Lovely drive through woodlands and coastal scrub to see Humbug Point from the other side! Beerbarrel Beach, pretty little beach with lots of granite boulders and then Maurouard Beach stretched along the coast, seemingly forever, the view just went on and on.

This whole area is known as Break O’Day, after the river of the same name!

Ok, we are beached out! Its getting late so its time to head for home, maybe with a fish and chip supper if we can find one. We looked in Scamander but no joy, nothing along the coast at St Marys but for one shop only offering ‘flake’, or gummy shark which didn’t appeal. Same at Bicheno, so we headed for home and sausages!

As we drove south we could see a long plume of cloud running east-west and as we go closer we could se that it was smoke from the huge fires burning in the Huon Valley. The Hazards, the mountains opposite our cabin, in Freycinet National Park were shrouded by the smoke, the cloud now turning orange and red in the late evening sun. Watched a David Attenborough programme on Tasmania, brilliant!

29 January

Yet another bright beautiful cloudless morning. The wind had dropped during the night and the smoke cloud dissipated, locally at least. Checked the ABC News for information about the fires and it seems they are still largely uncontrollable and getting closer to the little towns along the Huon Valley. Evacuations are taking place.

We awoke early today and were in the car park for the Wineglass Bay track by 9am! The carpark was already over half full and the sun very warm - 32 degrees forecast for today; this can’t be Tasmania, they don’t have these temperatures day after day. From the forecast website:

Hobart's hottest calendar month on record

16:06 EDT

Hobart has just registered an unprecedented sixth January day at or above 30-degrees, as the city nears the end of what will likely be its hottest calendar month on record.

Anyway we set off up the well made track, just a few people along the way, a lovely walk through the lower slopes forest with occasional sets of steps as the terrain got steeper, fortunately the trail stayed in the dappled shade of the forest even as the trees got shorter. The track wound around huge granite boulders on the hillside, these have all fallen from much higher up! And higher up there were more boulders, precariously balanced! Coaxed Ruth along; it was steep! About halfway up a lookout gave views back across Great Oyster Bay and the smaller Coles Bay, and just wow, the sea was blue! 40 minutes and two kilometres got us to the saddle between Mount Amos (454 metres) and Mount Mayson (415 metres) at 213 metres and a few steps more to the lookout. An iconic view of Wineglass Bay with the greater Thouin Bay to the east and Mounts Graham (579 metres) and Freycinet (612 metres) behind. A stunning view.

After the obligatory photos, Ruth decided to return to the car and I continued to Wineglass Bay. It was a steeper descent than the climb up to the lookout, lots more steps, Ruth was right to return. However I pushed on and made it to the beach. Gleaming white sand in a perfect arc, the blue, blue ocean crashing onto the beach, and there was quite a swell. It was difficult to imagine the slaughter and blood that took place here nearly two hundred years ago. There were warnings of strong undertows here and few people were in the water. Didn’t have my swimmers, and there were too many people around for a skinny dip so I sat and watched the waves for a bit before making the return journey.

Ok, so it was 3km back to the saddle and a further 2km to the car park and it was getting hotter. Onwards. Made it back to the carpark in good time and with 45 minutes to spare before Ruth was to arrive in the car so I walked on, round the back of Coles Bay, past Honeymoon Beach and about halfway around Richardsons Beach when I saw a familiar car pull up just ahead; our bright blue Mitsubishi ASX. We stopped at the bottle shop on the way back for some beers and ciders, then sat and enjoyed an ice cold beer - delicious!

Ruth had seen a small snake on her return from the Lookout, a white-lipped snake, only about 30cm long, mildly venomous but with such a small mouth not really a threat to humans. Despite keeping a good lookout I didn’t see any wildlife except for a few birds.

Lunch and listen to Cerys Matthews Radio 6 show, a very relaxing afternoon. It was hot and the increasing wind was hot. Watched a family of kookaburras, flitting back and forth, the youngster screeching as its parents hunted for food for it. Neither parent ‘laughing’!

Went just around the corner to the ‘Town Centre’ of Coles Bay, a convenience store and post office and two cafes, oh and a boat ramp and dock. We went for pizza in ‘Geographe’, just a small cafe, but the pizzas were good.

Heard something moving about on the roof during the night, probably a possum.

30 January

Another beautiful morning. Checked the bush fire reports and watched the ABC News. The situation is not improving and it seems three houses were destroyed in the Huon Valley, the fire fighters are not winning the battle. Emailed the places we have booked to stay to check whether or not it is safe to go there. Tomorrow night’s people responded straightaway that it is indeed safe, that they had fire crews at their accommodation and offered us an upgrade. Good news!

Clothes washing duties completed we drove out to the beach. Looked into Honeymoon Beach but the car park was absolutely full and as it is only a tiny beach we moved on. Back along the Bay to the southern end of Richardsons Beach, a great sweep around the Bay, nice yellow sands and very shallow water. A band of dead seaweed on the high tide mark, but not smelly, it was crisp. We went in!!! Cool to start with but we sort of got used to it, and what a surprise, Ruth was first to get her shoulders wet. Beautifully clear, the sandy bottom stretched away to the deep blue of the Bay waters further out.

Swim done we returned to the cabin for lunch. Sitting on the verandah, Ruth heard noises coming from the roof and when I climbed up I looked straight into the eyes of a possum. It was living in part of the roof where two panels met creating an enclosed area. It looked cuddly tucked into the roof space, but I didn’t go too close, they have very sharp teeth and claws. Let him be.

A hot afternoon, we sat and read, dozed and then three kookaburras landed on the verandah rail. They had been on the power line in front of the house but must have got fed-up with being mobbed by smaller birds (Kookaburras will eat the chicks of other birds, amongst many other things - they are carnivores). We watched them for ages, seemed to be two juveniles and one adult. The juveniles making lots of screeching noises, occasionally moving closer to the adult who ignored them for a while then flew off to a nearby tree. After a while the youngsters followed and the parent bird flew away. But, no ‘laughing’!

We decided to have an evening walk and drove to Sleepy Bay, parked and wandered down the track to the Bay. Mossies everywhere! We beat a hasty retreat and decided that perhaps an evening walk was not a good thing. Back to the cabin for dinner.

We watched a tv programme called ‘Upper Middle Boguns’, absolutely hilarious, very well written.

31 January

A very windy, gusty night and our resident possum crashed in and out of his den in the roof. The wind had changed and was now blowing strongly from the south west - Antarctic air and the temperature was 14 degrees, 20 degrees cooler than yesterday! We checked the fire reports, packed up, told the cabin manager about the possum, then set off west.

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