I was sent on a road trip to explore Tasmania by Cheaptickets.sg and Tourism Tasmania (@tasmania). In this post, you’ll find details on Freycinet National Park, the highlight of the great east coast drive of Tasmania.
As explained in my Tasmania road trip planning post, we were in Tasmania for only 5 days. With such short time, I decided to explore a little bit of the eastern coast of Tasmania and it’s pretty much a no-brainer that you have to stop by Freycinet National Park!
Getting to Freycinet National Park
Driving a rental car
The easiest way to get to the park is to fly to Hobart/Launceston, rent a car and drive yourself from there. It takes approximately 2.5 hours to drive non-stop, but there are a few spots and lookout points to check out along the Tasman Highway (also known as A3 on your map). I recommend stopping by:
- Katy’s Berry Farm in Swansea – we did not have time for this, but an acquaintance in Melbourne totally raved about their scones and berry jam. And he’s English, so that says a lot 😉
- Great Oyster Bay Lookout point – you’ll see a few signs for this along the Tasman Highway. Just pull in quickly for some quick photos.
- Spiky Bridge – Right off the highway, this bridge is just a 5 minute stop to admire the unique spiky design and the history that comes with it. The bridge is a result of convict labor from the 1800s.
- Museum of Old and New Arts (MONA) – If you are driving up from Hobart, make sure to stop by this museum! It’s located about 15 minutes drive north from Hobart.
Tours from Hobart/Launceston
If you choose not to drive, there are plenty of day tour options leaving from both Hobart and Launceston. This is actually a pretty convenient option – you save some energy because you can just sleep on the bus and you don’t have to worry about planning any extra accommodation around Freycinet. The downside is, of course, you won’t be as free as you would if you go by yourself. You also have to leave pretty early and come back late.
Alternatively, if you have time to kill you can also check out the 4-day Freycinet Experience walking tour, which will take you through the most beautiful parts of the national park.
Where to stay overnight
If you decide to stay overnight, I’ve done research on all the sensible options, which comes down to staying in Coles Bay, Swansea or Bicheno. Coles Bay is the closest option since it’s pretty much within the park territory, but all the hotels were expensive and the town is very small so I immediately ruled them out.
I settled on Bicheno, a small quiet town about 30-minutes drive from Freycinet National Park. They are the closest and cheapest option to Freycinet. We stayed at Bicheno by the bay for two nights, a beautiful lodge just minutes walk away from the beach and city center of Bicheno. It’s a very simple accommodation, but I loved it! They have the best shower out of all the accommodations I had on this trip. The hot water heats up in seconds, has good water pressure and they have a heating lamp in the bathroom – something I truly missed on cold nights when I was stepping out of the shower.
There were more things to do there as well, such as the Bicheno Penguins Night tour and Bicheno Beach & Blowhole. The Bicheno Penguins tour was honestly quite disappointing for us – I guess we were unlucky, but we only saw two penguins in the wild when we were told to expect 10-15 penguins. You still get to see the penguins since some of them adopted a nest in the manmade boxes placed alongside the beach, but that’s not quite the same as seeing them in the wild is it? The tour costs only AU$35 so you can still try your luck. The Bicheno beach is beautiful though. I recommend coming down here 30 minutes before sunset and just walk along the beach, and make sure to check out the blowhole too!
Swansea is a bit further away to the park than Bicheno (45 minutes drive). I did not choose to overnight in Swansea because of this, and also based on the prices of accommodation. However, if you want to splurge, you can stay at Thalia Haven – a luxurious accommodation boasting this totally Instagram-worthy outdoor bathtub facing the Great Oyster Bay! I was scrolling my Facebook feed when I saw a friend’s glorious photo inside this bathtub with a glass of champagne – you can get the same photo for about $650 – 800 a night.
Things to do at Freycinet National Park
Now that we’ve settled on how you’ll be getting to Freycinet and where to stay, let’s check out what you can do at the park:
Wineglass Bay is undoubtedly the poster child of Freycinet. One look at the beach from above and you’ll see why it’s so popular. Just look at that perfectly white sand and azure water! And you’ll probably quickly figure out why it’s named so – it curves like the base of a wine glass.
There are a few options you can choose from to enjoy the famous Wineglass Bay view:
Mount Amos Hike: The Most Difficult option (with the best view!)
Not gonna lie, I was quite nervous about this hike since I read many reviews on how difficult it is. And guess what? All those reviews were correct! If you are a tall, athletic person then it might be a walk in the park for you… but for this 160-cm short girl, it was not an easy hike. The first 10 minutes was pretty easy, then you start hitting slanted smooth granite surface and that’s when it starts to get challenging.
And I suppose this is what makes the hike very dangerous in wet conditions so here’s a long list of DON’Ts
- I highly do NOT recommend doing this hike if it had rained earlier in the day, or if it is currently raining, or if you think it will rain in the next 2-3 hours.
- I also do NOT recommend doing this after sunset, so make sure you allocate enough daylight time for this hike.
- Do NOT wear regular running shoes. I recommend wearing proper trekking shoes. I was wearing my simple Nike running shoes which had absolutely no tread against the type of granite surface found on Mount Amos.
- Lastly, do NOT try to go off track. Just follow the yellow arrows on the rock and you will be fine. I read some news about hikers who went missing on this track and had to be rescued by helicopter the following day. It turns out they went off track and couldn’t figure out their way back. So yeah, don’t go off track and don’t forget to sign in and out of the guest book at the carpark!
Anyway, back to the hike – about 30 minutes into it, the path started to get really steep and we had to get down on all fours to continue the climb, aka “scrambling”. It was quite challenging for me since the rocks were sharp, steep and high. At some points of the hike, I had to hoist myself up on a rock that is about the height of my stomach while making sure I don’t lose footing. My arms and legs were definitely sore the next day! And the rocks were sharp enough that I got a thin cut on my finger.
However, the good thing about the hike is that it’s relatively short so even though it was difficult it didn’t last that long. After all, it was only an elevation gain of about 400m. But it was truly a beautiful hike all the way through. The entire time, your back is facing the direction of Coles Bay and Great Oyster Bay, and because it was so steep you pretty much get an unobstructed picturesque view of those bays, while in front of you are endless slabs of huge, steep granite rocks. But once you conquer those pesky rocks – I swear, if you thought the view hiking up was beautiful, wait till you see the Wineglass Bay reveal on the other side of the mountain. THAT view was a million times worth it for only an hour hike up.
In total it took us a little over an hour to go up, then we spent about 30 minutes at the peak and another 1.5 hours to climb down. Yes, the descent took longer even though you take the exact same route down. I was basically crab-walking and slip-n-sliding my butt down the mountain.
At the end of our hike, we were rewarded by an adorable sight: Two curious, wild wallabies getting really close to the carpark and begging for food. Note: Do NOT feed the wildlife no matter how cute! You can see them sniffing around backpacks here but I’m glad to report nobody was trying to feed them even though they were so adorable.
Wineglass Bay Lookout: Moderate Difficulty (but still with a great view!)
If you think the Mount Amos hike is not for you, you can try the Wineglass Bay Lookout path instead. I did not do this one, but I read online that it is nowhere near as bad as Mount Amos. However, it’s still a considerably long walk – it would take you 2.5 hours return to the lookout point and you get to actually go to the beach itself. You then have the option to continue towards Hazard Beach for a longer walk, which will take you 4-5 hours return back to the carpark.
For the complete list of day walks, you can visit the Freycinet National Park website.
After climbing Mount Amos, we decided we’ve had enough walking and we’ll only check out the short walks. If climbing sharp steep rocks of Mount Amos is not your thing – don’t worry! At Freycinet National Park, you can still enjoy the amazing view and vivid colors without all the work! Honeymoon Bay is probably the shortest of them all with a picturesque view right off the carpark. Honeymoon Bay is a gravel-y beach with plenty of flat granite rocks to sit on. It’s a popular spot for a picnic so definitely come here with some food. You can sit on one of the many rocks and enjoy the incredible view and colors.
This is slightly longer than Honeymoon Bay, but still equally picturesque. It takes about 5-8 minutes to walk down to the actual beach. The terrain of Sleepy Beach is similar to Honeymoon Beach – rough gravel and large granite rocks lines up the coast. We stayed a bit longer at Sleepy beach though, because we decided to climb up the granite rocks over to the other side where there were MORE granite rocks and large Kelp forests you can see from the coast.
Freycinet Marine Farm
We came here for lunch after Mount Amos and before going back to Honeymoon Bay and Sleepy Bay. If you love oysters, this place is absolute heaven and very moderately priced. Me? I LOVE Oysters and have always been partial to the Tasmanian ones, so I was on cloud nine. At Freycinet Marine Farm, the Oysters and Mussels were harvested fresh from the farm on daily basis, while the Scallops and Salmon were sourced from local fisherman.
We ordered half dozen of natural oysters with lemon, half dozen of baked oysters ($12) with smoked Tasmanian salmon and brie ($12), two garlic scallops ($15) and two glasses of local wine ($9 and $10 each). The total of this meal was $58 for 2 people!
We gulped those down rather fast, so we ordered more – Uni (aka Sea Urchin) for $15. It was interesting since the color and texture is different than the Uni that I’m used to – it was a darker orange and had more rough/chunkier texture, but it was still delicious!
I highly recommend making this stop while you are in Freycinet, but take note they close early at 5pm, so go for lunch or mid-day snack. Optionally, you can also get a takeaway from here and go to Honeymoon Bay for a picnic! It’s only 10-minutes drive away.
What causes the orange hues on the granite rocks?
While visiting Honeymoon beach, I started to notice there orange hues on the granite rocks that line up the coastal areas I could see at a distance. I saw this again from afar at Sleepy Bay and thought that some minerals may have rusted or something. It didn’t make sense, but the gradient of orange looked like rust to me from afar.
It was only when we returned to our hotel that day at Bicheno that I finally got to see them up close at Bicheno Beach.
Turns out the granites were orange-colored because it is covered by lichens, a combination of algae and fungus. If you drive further up north along the east coast, you’ll reach Bay of Fires which has the same orange-hue. I wonder if this is why it’s called Bay of Fires?
Either way, we know Orange and Blue are complementary colors and perhaps that is why the coast of Tasmania is so pleasing to the eye.