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Backpacker Magazine – November 2013

Best Beach Hike Freycinet National Park

by: Dennis Lewon and Nancy Bouchard

    Tags:

Can a place be too beautiful? Freycinet has sugary white sand, turquoise water, and tide pools. Campsites nestled between clumps of tussock grass with ocean views. Peakbagging and bouldering. And more. The problem? After a hike here, say our well-traveled scouts, you’ll be spoiled forever when it comes to beach treks. Allow at least three days to explore the park’s secluded coastline, heathlands, eucalypt forests, and distinctive red and pink granite mountains (sparkling with quartz, pink feldspar, and black mica).

The perfect itinerary: Start the 19-mile Freycinet Peninsula Circuit at the visitor center, south of Cole’s Bay. Head southwest on the Hazards Beach Track toward Fleurieu Point, where the track descends from the cliff tops and traverses the white sands of Hazard’s Beach. It’s nice, but don’t stop here. Keep going to camp at Cook’s Beach, where Cook’s Corner has a half-dozen campsites tucked into the trees above the beach (about mile 9). There’s also a water tank where you can usually fill up (water can be scarce here; check with the visitor center and plan on carrying what you need). Side hike 2 miles from Cook’s Corner to Bryan’s Corner, one of the most remote beaches on the peninsula,with great views of even-more-remote Schouten Island and good chances to see penguins, seals, and whales.

The next day, head east on the Peninsula Track and hike 7.5 miles to the campsite at Wineglass Bay. En route, drop your pack at the base of Mt. Freycinet and scramble the quarter-mile of steep switchbacks up the granite rock to the summit for commanding views of the Tasman Sea and Great Oyster Bay. The Wineglass Bay Track closes the loop. Compass tip: There’s enough iron in the ranges to bend your needle 90 degrees. No matter. You’ll already be disoriented by the excessive beauty.

•Custom River Flows
On most dam-controlled rivers in the world, paddlers have to make do with what the water managers give them. And power requirements always trump kayaker dreams. Not on the Mersey River, near Walls of Jerusalem National Park. Fancy a whitewater trip on Saturday morning at 9 a.m.? Just call dam officials ahead of time, and they’ll deliver a custom flow. Contact Hydro Tasmania (hydro.com.au)

• Whales! Penguins!
Off Freycinet’s coast, humpback and southern right whales appear from July to January, feeding close to shore. Between June and August, male little penguins (the smallest type) return to their rookery to mate. Look for the diminutive penguins along the coastline, where they burrow and breed. Schouten Island is home to Australian fur seals, which attract killer whales.

TASMANIA TRIP PLANNER
Season: Tasmania’s maritime climate is temperate, but wet and windy weather can occur any time. Spring through fall is best (December to March is high season).
Get there: Fly to Hobart (or take a ferry from Melbourne).
Guide: Tasmanian Expeditions; tasmap.tas.gov.au
Park Pass: Rates vary with period (example: $30/person for 8 weeks)
Park info: parks.tas.gov.au
Travel info: discovertasmania.com



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