Knobbled and rugged, the Freycinet Peninsula juts out into the southern ocean connected by a thin strip of land to the eastern coast of Tasmania. A line of prominent rocky hills sticks out of the sea in a knuckled ribbon, ruffled by scrubby forest, with wave-swept headlands broken by sweeping white-sand bays. It is unsettled, accessible only by foot or boat, and is a true natural wonder of Australian geography.
The jumping-off point for Freycinet is the village of Coles Bay, a scattering of holiday homes and tourist accomodation set over half a dozen little bays and inlets giving a beautiful aspect onto the peninsula itself. The town exists for its access to the walking trails and the national park- I assure you there’s little else to do there- and lodging is best booked in advance, as it is in short supply compared to the large numbers of people who visit. Even mid-week after schools were back we were lucky to get the last caravan at the holiday park.
We arrived in Coles Bay when the sky was brooding and rain showers brushed through intermittently. We stopped at a cove which gave aspect over the line of hills that makes up the Peninsula itself, just the other side of the choppy green water. The one thing Coles Bay has for it other than proximity to some of Tasmania’s prettiest beaches is the view, which is truly magnificent and can’t be overstated. I don’t imagine it ever gets old waking up and looking at those rugged peaks across the bay.
The changing light made for interesting if challenging photography that first day. When the sun lit the foreground, the contrast between the orange-painted rocks and the heavily overcast sky was striking, and the peninsula itself made for a dramatic backdrop. It was a fun shoot.
The next day, after completing our walk into the exquisite Wineglass Bay (more to come), we returned to the same little cove. The weather had improved and now we had blue skies but a choppy sea. The scene remained dramatic- as did the light- and it was another enjoyable landscape-fest.
Any visitors to Tasmania would do well to include Freycinet on their itinerary if they have any interest in scenery, beaches or the sea. I for one will surely be heading back there on my next trip through.
Coming soon: Rural Wanderings
I went on a little weekend away this past Saturday and Sunday. Some friends from the little small-group I’m a part of decided to rent a holiday house for two nights down at the end of the Mornington Peninsula. Like a crooked finger, the Peninsula arcs all the way down the eastern edge of Port Philip Bay, until it’s just a narrow ridge of land a few miles wide. Because my folks live on the Peninsula I feel that it’s really just an extension of Melbourne, but in perspective the end of the peninsula is a good two-hour drive from downtown Melbourne. Perhaps because, in true Melbourne fashion, the suburbs barely seem to break on the way down, it feels part of the GMA. Nonetheless, the atmosphere down near Sorrento is totally different- a relaxed, pretty, beachside ambience that during the summer is festive and joyful, and during the winter is a little cooler, but still somehow uplifting compared to the spreading expanses of the bungalow’d Eastern Suburbs.
On Sunday I joined a couple of friends for a walk along the Sorrento back beach. This end of the peninsula, there are bay-side beaches, and back beaches. The former are sandy, gently-sloping strips often many miles long, relatively underpopulated and opening onto the calm, clear waters of the bay. Yachts are moored at jetties and during the summer, kids splash in the shallows while parents watch patiently from laid-out beach-towels. The latter, however, are a lot more fun. Facing onto the southern Ocean, they are steep and rocky, lined with broken cliffs and washed-out stacks, wave-cut platforms and crumbling stumps, all being gradually swallowed by heaving breakers. On a calm day, the waves break onto the jagged coastline with predictable regularity, foaming where they strike outcrops. When the weather is up, the back-beaches offer some of the most exciting seascapes in the area.
Sorrento is one of Victoria’s posher seaside resorts and so the back-beach is usually pretty populated. In fact there was an open-topped Porsche Cayenne in the parking lot that morning. Alright for some. But the place still manages to feel rugged and just a little adventurous. A scramble along the rock-pools offers a certain nostalgia, the simplicity of the seaside offering an almost Victorian experience (the era, not the State). Sadly for me, the winter light was variable and largely uncooperative, and the sun slipped behind a bank of cloud about a minute after I pulled into the parking-lot, foiling most of my subsequent attempts at capturing the landscape. I swapped lenses out (gingerly in the brisk sea air) and replaced my 16-35mm with my 85mm f/1.8 portrait lens and shot some candids of my promenading companions instead, chosing to practice my portraiture skills and expose them to the intrusion of a paparazzo. They were very patient with me, and I got a few snaps I was pleased with which I might share on another post.