Bay of Fires

Thursday, 09-10-2014. Day 50.

White Sand, Blue Ocean, No Fires

About 2:30 in the morning we were shocked awake by a raucous caterwauling from the deck just outside the bedroom door. It sounded like someone was butchering a cat. Had we not gone to Natureworld the morning before, we wouldn't have recognized this as one of the sounds of the quoll, also known as the tiger cat. It went on for quite some time, and, later in the light of day, we noticed that something had left us a little gift on the deck railing.

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Bay of Fires

One of the main destinations we had planned on visiting in Tasmania was the Bay of Fires, named the world's second best beach (by Condé Nast Traveler in 2009) and the hottest travel destination (by Lonely Planet, also 2009), which was about a 90-minute drive north of Bicheno. It got its name way back in 1773 when Tobias Furneaux (who sailed with explorer James Cook) saw burning fires set by Aboriginal people from the deck of his ship.

We were sort of winging this Bay of Fires thing, so we weren't entirely sure where we'd be going, but we did know we had to stop at Lollyworld in St. Helens (because of another brochure Jackie had discovered). This turned out to be a fortunate stop. While the kids debated which candy they wanted to get, Samantha and I consulted the local tourist map and discussed a plan of how we wanted to tackle the Bay of Fires.

It's challenging to see the whole Bay of Fires in one day (and that wasn't our intention). It runs for 29 kilometers between Binalong Bay and Eddystone Point and is made up of a lot of different beaches, some of which are pretty isolated. You can't reach certain sections or certain beaches from certain roads, so we picked a few likely, easy-to-travel-to spots and off we went, bag of candy in tow.

We made the short drive up the road from St. Helens to to Binalong Bay, the gateway to the Bay of Fires, and had a picnic at Boat Harbour Point. It was a warm, sunny day—the first we'd seen in some time—and a great day to be at the beach.

Bay of Fires from Boat Harbour Point Lookout

Bay of Fires from Boat Harbour Point Lookout

After lunch we walked along Binalong Bay Beach, which is about a 1.3 kilometers in length. As far as beaches go, this one was pretty fantastic—bright white sand against a cerulean blue ocean.

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Unlike the beaches we frequent in Southern California, the water was very clear and there was very little, if any, junk (no cigarette butts, no broken glass, no beer cans) washed up on the beach. My photos couldn't really capture the majesty here, so take my word for it, this is a beautiful beach.

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Driving north from Binalong Bay, the road from ended in another 10 kilometers or so, and visiting the end of the road was an appealing idea. So we got back in the car and drove past homes and farms until we couldn't drive anymore to a place called The Gardens. We parked and walked out along a beach that was surrounded by granite boulders covered in orange lichen. The color contrast of the white sand, blue ocean, and brown/gray/orange rocks was quite stunning.

Blue ocean, orange rocks: looking out across the Pacific from The Gardens.

Blue ocean, orange rocks: looking out across the Pacific from The Gardens.

We found this spot to be quite relaxing—except for the strong winds that threatened to blow us off the rocks.

Secluded beach at The Gardens.

Secluded beach at The Gardens.

We had almost two hours of driving ahead of us to get back to Alpine Lodge, so we called it a day and started back (Samantha was driving; she decided she wanted some more left-side driving practice). There are signs all along Tasmanian highways warning about the dangers of hitting animals on the road, especially from dusk to dawn. But it was still a surprise when, as the sun started to go down, we were startled by a lone wallaby bouncing across the road in front of us. The animal was a good distance in front of the car, so we weren't in any real danger of hitting it even at 90 kmh, but it was still a little too exciting.

Notable Statistics

  • Kms driven: 205
  • Miles of beach walked: 2
  • Near-wallaby collisions: 1
  • Lollys purchased: 9
  • Loads of laundry: 1

 

Bay of Fires
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