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Exploring Wineglass Bay

Our first stop during our 10 day adventure in Tasmania was to explore Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park. Hailed as one of the top 10 beaches in the world, Wineglass Bay is known for its white sand and crystal clear blue waters. Surprisingly though, it didn’t get its name from its perfectly shaped bay, but from the blood stained sands during its dark history in whaling operations.

Our morning started with a beautiful sunrise as we enjoyed our breakfast from our little campervan. The national parks in Tasmania require a permit to enter the park which can be purchased online or onsite. A daily pass normally costs $24 per car, but we picked up a holiday pass for $60 as we had plans to visit Cradle Mountain, Tasman Peninsula and Walls of Jerusalem during our stay.

Freycinet National Park

With several hiking options in the park we hoped to knock off a few during our 2 days here. Once we had enough light to get started, we headed off up the track towards our first target – Wineglass Bay look-out. It was obvious the look-out track was a very popular destination as the path was well manicured and an easy 45 minutes to the top. The detour to the look-out was a bit disappointing as I realised the famous photos I had seen must have been taken from Mount Amos and not here. It was added to our list for the next day then! After a quick photo we headed down the steep path towards the secluded beach.

Wineglass Bay Look-out

Not as many people must continue down to the beach, as the track changed dramatically to a more rugged, rocky path. Since it was still quite early in the morning, we could hear animals rustling in the bushes and before long I had seen my first Wallaby!!! Unfortunately he was way too quick for me to snap a photo, but we managed to see quite a few more during our travels later in the week (this one below was from the Walls of Jerusalem National Park)

Wallaby

It was a bit strange to see mammals again. We’d become so accustom to the bush being filled with mostly birds, it was weird to see larger animals during our hikes. Although far from the more dangerous animals in Canada (bears, mountain lions, moose, etc) it still was a strange feeling wondering what was lurking in the bushes.

As we arrived at the beach we were welcomed by blue skies, white sand and turquoise clear waters. And with a warm, spring day, it almost felt like we were in the Caribbean!

Wineglass bay

With the hot sun beating down on us, the water was really tempting so we went for a swim in the cool crisp waters. It was a refreshing dip as the water was much cooler than the tropical oceans in the Caribbean, but lovely to say the least. We had heard stories of dolphins frequenting the bay and people getting a chance to get up close and swim with them, but today we didn’t have the same luck.

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wine glass bay

After we dried off and enjoyed lunch on the beach, we decided to walk to the other end and continue our adventure with an ambitious climb to Mount Graham. Jordan had seen a pretty epic photo from Mount Graham so we made a last-minute decision to push for the summit. It was already passed noon and with a 4-5 hour return time, plus the walk back out to the carpark we were going to be lucky it to make it back before dark.

Leaving the beach we started up what you might call a ‘trail’ and into the backcountry bush that lived up to the rugged reputation we had heard about Tasmania from our friend Max. The next 2.5 hours we climbed through native forest, hopped streams and dodged fallen logs as we climbed in elevation. As we got higher we  began to get some amazing vantage points of the surrounding area. The park had several walking paths from a few hours to several days – I wished we had more time to explore!

Promise Bay

On one side of the peninsula we could see Promise Bay and on the other Wineglass Bay where we had just come from. Everything felt new around us – vegetation, animals and bird life – it was all so different, yet in someway similar to New Zealand. It was the same feeling we had when we first arrived in New Zealand and were experiencing all of the new vegetation and animals that were different from Canada. Jordan just couldn’t get enough of these funky pine cone like plants that were crispy brown, yellow or green depending on their growth stage – he must have taken 10 shots, stopping every time we saw a bunch.

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As we navigated through the forest, the trail became less obvious. At one point we came across a marker that had the arrow facing upwards, therefore making us unsure whether to go left or right since there was signs of a trail in both directions. I assumed that meant either was fine so I veered us to the left which proved to be a difficult bush waking track up streams and under low branches.

We began to curse the poor trails before finally finding another marker ahead bringing us back onto the proper trail. From here we could see Mount Graham in the distance with a few people at the summit. Although the hike was challenging and with very little time to spare we decided to continue on as we had come this far – we might as well finish this!

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The last sections were tricky as it climbed through steep smooth rock that was quite slippery when wet. When we finally made it to the top we were rewarded with a beautiful view of wine glass bay that is not often seen. The wind was quite strong at the top, but we decided to set up a quick time-lapse while we grabbed a bite before heading back down. Just as Jordan stepped away from the camera, I thought to myself “I’m not sure we should leave the camera unattended with these strong winds” and sure enough just as I thought that I could see the tripod began to tilt and I lunged forward just in time to grab the camera before it fell off the boulder to the rocks below. Unfortunately it didn’t go unscathed as the polarizer had a massive dent where it struck the rock – but at least I managed to save the camera. (we were so distracted by the damage that we forgot to even take a photo of it!)

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With the clouds rolling in, and a pretty close call with the camera, we decided to make our way back down the mountain as fast as we could. Along the way we saw some pretty cool bird life, including a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo and what I think was a Green Rosella. It wasn’t long before it started to sprinkle and we were now not only chasing the day light but also the weather as we didn’t have our rain gear on us. With the rain came the slippery rock, and on more than one occasion I had a spill landing me on my butt (and one where I could have easily broke my leg). We finally made it back to the beach and going at the pace we were had worked up quite a sweat. Jordan decided to go for another dip in the ocean and this time with no one around decided to go ‘oh natural’. As he emerged from the water he said he could hear squeals underwater that sounded almost like dolphins, and sure enough in the distance I could see a small pod leaping out of the water! There was no way we could get to them without a boat so we just watched from the shore until they were out of sight.

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Making our way back along the beautiful white sand beach, and stunning double rainbow appeared as the sun emerged from the cloud as the rain started to subside. After a long, already 10 hour day, the walk back up towards the look-out and down towards the carpark felt really long, and we ended up arrived at our camper just as it was getting dark.

The next morning we were up early again back at the Freycinet National Park but this time we planned to tackle Mount Amos. We left just before sunrise and headed up the gravel trail for the estimated 3 hour return hike.

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Just as the well-marked trail ended we saw a sign warning not to climb when wet due to slippery rocks. Although we had a seen a taste of it the day before during our decent from Mount Graham, we had no idea what we were in store for and shrugged it off as totally manageable as we continued on.

Mount Amos

The next hour was a grueling climb spent mostly on all fours the whole way up. With just small arrows painted on the rock to mark the paths, we carefully made our way up with a few near misses along the way. With our packs full of camera gear it didn’t help our balance and on more than a few occasion found ourselves sliding backwards as our feet gave way on the slippery terrain. We also noticed on the way up, the filter on the camera was more damaged that we originally thought. It had a massive crack through it (from its fall the day before) and despite several attempts we couldn’t get it off the camera! That left us with no camera except my phone until we were able to get it repaired in Hobart later that day. Angry and frustrated Jordan stormed up the hill (especially since the heavy equipment he was carrying was of no use now)

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It felt like we weren’t making much progress but as the sections got even more sketchy we finally were near the summit and scrambled up a few more sections before seeing the amazing view of Wineglass Bay. This was the view we had been waiting for!!! We hung out at the top for nearly an hour as we took in the scenery, fueled up and even took some risky drone shots in some seriously gusting wind.

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It wasn’t long before we started back down the hill ready for the challenge ahead. The next hour and a bit was again mainly spent on all fours, walking like a crab down the slipper rock. Every branch in sight was used as an anchor to hold our weight as we tested each step. I honestly think the way down was harder than up!

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Happy to be back on solid, non-slippery ground, we jumped in our campervan just after 11am, mostly in one piece, with just a few scraps on our hands and knees. We decided to reward ourself with a real fruit ice cream at The Pondering Frog before having a plate of fresh oysters at Freycinet Marine Farm – something we were told not to miss! Despite the camera debacle, this brought back a smile to Jordan’s face 🙂

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Check out Episode 2 – Wineglass Bay

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