When most overseas visitors think of Australia, one thing springs immediately to mind.
Tourism Australia spends millions on cultivating the country’s image as the home of pristine patches of sand, and with good reason. There are a lot of great beaches around the edge of that enormous country.
I’m embarrassed to say, though, that before visiting Tasmania I had no idea that some of the best stretches of that sand lay in that island state. As soon as I started driving up the east coast, mile upon mile of deserted coastline stretched before me with barely another person on it.
Last time I was there, the weather didn’t always play its part – the beaches were still beautiful, but rain and wind often meant that I didn’t spend much time exploring them. On this visit, however, the weather gods played their part and I was blessed with blue skies from start to finish.
Finally, then, I could get the photos I was hoping for. Here are a dozen of my favourites.
The road from Hobart to Bicheno initially heads inland for an hour or so, winding through farmland for a while until it rejoins the coast. From that point it looks – well – a lot like this. We must have stopped at half a dozen random rest areas or little dirt parking lots, walking to and from the beach until we had almost filled the car up with sand.
On the odd occasion that the road did leave the coastline for a few minutes, the views didn’t get any worse.
One of the things that stood out along this patch of coastline was the difference in textures. From deep, white sand dunes to coarse, dark sand and back again, often in a matter of minutes.
Wandering around Bicheno later that afternoon, we came across the apparently-unmissable Bicheno blowhole. I say apparently, as last time I was in town I did indeed manage to miss it completely. Not so this time around, however – we must have spent an hour lying on these conveniently-shaped rocks napping working on our tans…
… and avoiding the spray from the blowhole. After a while we learned to tell what was coming from the sound – a short rumble meant a small eruption of water a few seconds later, while a deafening roar meant there was an excellent chance of getting wet.
Bushfires had been raging near Bicheno earlier in the week, and the hiking trails in Freycinet National Park had been closed for days. We got lucky, however – all of the tracks reopened on the day we drove into the park, although the blackened stumps and faint smell of wood smoke left little doubt about what had happened.
Ill-prepared for a longer walk, we only went as far as the Wineglass Bay lookout. In my pictures from the same spot three years earlier, you can barely see the beach.
On the way out of the park we took a turnoff to Cape Tourville, where an unmanned lighthouse sits at the top of a short path. The lighthouse itself is much like any other, but the 20 minute walk around it gave us some stunning views out over the Tasman Sea.
On the way up towards St Helens the following day, we stopped at Four Mile Beach for no particular reason other than to feel the sand between our toes. It had all of my beach requirements covered – soft sand, interesting driftwood and not a single other person to be found.
Scamander beach sits alongside a river of the same name, surrounded by tussock on three sides and crashing waves on the other. Despite all the footprints, there was precisely one other person on the beach as we sat and ate our lunch, an old man in a deckchair reading his book and gazing out to sea. If I’d had the time, I would have loved to join him for a while.
Finally coming to the end of our three day beach odyssey, we parked the car at Binnalong Bay. This is probably the most well known stretch of sand in Tasmania, and it’s easy to see why – it had some of the cleanest, whitest sand I’ve ever seen. One end was covered in interesting rocks of all shapes and sizes…
… while the rest of the beach stretched out in a long, sweeping arc as far as the eye could see. Despite its popularity, despite the beautiful day, despite it being the height of peak season, there were probably still less than fifty people on the entire beach.
We laid down our towels, pulled out our books and proceeded to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the afternoon.
If there was a better way to end our time exploring Tasmania’s beaches, I’m not sure what it was.