Tasmania 5: Wineglass Bay

I’ve already introduced you to the spectacular Wineglass Bay here.

The bay itself is one of several renowned beaches on Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula, a narrow elbow of coastline jutting out into the southern ocean on the island’s east coast. Accessible from the settlement of Coles Bay, Freycinet is a National Park, with fees applying for entry. There is a well-trod path that leads up from the parking lot to a viewpoint, and from there the option to return to the vehicles, or continue down to the beach itself. Walking tracks and even campgrounds give access to Wineglass and other beaches in the area.

The main viewpoint is a moderately easy 30-40 minute uphill walk following a clearly marked trail- also clearly marked by the long string of tourists making their way to see the vista. One of Tasmania’s best-known beaches, Wineglass presents a visually appealing sight, a wide gently-curving strip of white sand against an azure sea. The viewpoint itself is spread out over a series of adjutting boulders and bare rocks, although while I was up there the wind made taking even simple photographs quite an obnoxious experience. The day, which had started overcast and spotty with rain, developed into one spotted with white fluffy clouds, and eventually, a cloudless afternoon, perfect both for enjoying the scenery, and the photography.

A large number of travellers appear to be content with the walk to the viewpoint. However another 45 minutes down the other side gives access to the beach itself. We visited it mid-week after schools had gone back, and there were still people on the sand- but not many. Clustered where the path empties onto one end of the beach there averaged a dozen or so mostly-backpackers having a snack and a paddle before returning over the hill. We wandered along the sand for ten minutes and found ourselves almost completely secluded- there were maybe ten other people spread out over the mile+ of sand around us. A little slice of paradise.

At the end of the day, Wineglass Bay is just a beach. But it’s one heck of a beach. The sand is white and naturally clean, almost completely free of debris and in no way articifical. The water has to be seen to be believed. An exquisite turquoise colour, it is achingly, almost glacially clear (yes I know that glacier water is not clear at all but filled with minerals and sediment). I would dare to say possibly the cleanest, clearest seawater I have ever swum in.

And swim we did. Let’s get one thing clear. Tasmania, for all the beautiful sunshine we had, is not renowned for its weather. Well, actually, it is. It is renowned for being cold and wet. We lucked out with a string of beautifully sunny days, but even with the sun out, it’s hardly very hot compared to Australian norms. The water, by contrast, is frigid. With no landmass between the Tassie coast and Antarctica, the water feels as though it didn’t long ago melt. The icy bite only added to the sense of cleanliness, however. The swim was bracing, and we loved it for the experience, not just to be able to say we’d done it.

I spent a while snapping shots along the beach. A long while, in fact. It remains one of the prettiest and most photogenic beaches I’ve ever been on, and it was hard to stop. The colour the water appeared through my polarizing filter was simply eye-popping, and not done justice here on the pages of this blog. Something of a connaisseur of beaches (I’ve explored attractive beaches on at least five continents), I’d have to rate Wineglass Bay both as one of the most memorable, and one of the most simply beautiful. Additionally, the fact that, despite not being tropical, it was nearly empty, leant it a nearly mythic status which places it right up at the top of the must-see places to visit in Tasmania. Natural beauty at its best.

I trust the images speak for themselves in encouraging you to pay it a respectful and environmentally courteous visit.

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