Coles Bay

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  • Coles Bay
  • Freycinet Peninsula Kayaking
  • Cape Tourville
  • Coles Bay
  • Wineglass Bay lookout
  • Coles Bay, Richardsons Beach

Situated at the northern edge of the Freycinet National Park, Coles Bay is the service town and entry point for this wonderful National Park. As such it is well served by accommodation, caravan sites and camping facilities. It is one of the justifiably famous wilderness beauty spots on Tasmania’s east coast.

Location: 202 km north east of Hobart and 218 km south east of Launceston

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The Coles Bay-Freycinet National Park area is noted for its spectacular coastal scenery and its emphasis on fishing, boating, bushwalking and swimming. As the excellent brochure Let’s Talk about Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park declares: ‘Where else would you find granite mountains rising straight from the sea to form a magnificent sheltered waterway?

‘Where else would you find a beach so beautiful and secluded that on the last Royal visit to Australia, the Royal Yacht Britannia anchored to allow the Queen ashore for an Australian-style beach barbecue?’ This latter event is still talked about by the locals and, when you have seen Wineglass Bay where the picnic took place, you can understand the romantic notion of such an activity.

The appealing quality of Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park is that they haven’t really changed in fifty years. Today people still come to the area to get away from it all. They fish in the waters of Great Oyster Bay, which are still rich in trevally, flathead, crayfish and trumpeter. They walk into the park and climb the Hazards or the mountains to the south, both of which offer marvellous views across the bay and out across the Tasman Sea. And they drive on the rough roads through the National Park stopping for a spectacular view or pulling off the road to go swimming in the clear, safe waters of the bay.

Wineglass Bay lookoutFreycinet National Park: In its own way Freycinet National Park is one of Australia’s most interesting wilderness areas – where else in the world do you see red granite cliffs tumbling into the cold ocean? This 10 000 ha park is alive with unusual animals – Tasmanian pademelons, white-breasted sea eagles, red-necked wallabies – and in season offers spectacular displays of rare native flora, notably a wide variety of native orchids. It is fair to say that it is one of the country’s most spectacularly beautiful areas and when the weather is perfect it is hard to imagine a more peaceful and awe-inspiring piece of coastline.

Cape Tourville: The most popular activities in Freycinet National Park are bushwalking and scenic views. A good starting point is to drive to Cape Tourville. The 6.4 km dirt road, while hardly amazing, is perfectly adequate for conventional vehicles. The views are spectacular. Although Wineglass Bay is hidden by Mount Parsons there is a dramatic view across Thouin Bay to Lemon Rock and Cape Forestier.

Freycinet Peninsula KayakingDay Walks: When you enter Freycinet there is a brochure which provides a map and advice on a series of walks. These walks include an easy ten minute walk to the beach and rocks around Sleepy Bay. The Bay is on the route to Cape Tourville and the walk down to the rocks is easy and enjoyable. The kelp on the rocks is particularly impressive. There is also a walk to Little Gravelly Beach, a tiny beach nestled between two craggy headlands. This is a 30 minute walk with the final stretch – from the top of the cliffs to the beach – being quite steep.

The most popular walk by far is to the lookout over Wineglass Bay. There are a number of ways to see the Bay. There is a medium walk of 1 1/2-2 hours which takes the walker to the lookout. There is also a 3-4 hour walk which goes to the lookout then continues on to the beach. It returns by the same route. The final route is 5 hours and is a circuit via the lookout and the beach and back to the main carpark.

There are many more walks of varying difficulty in the park. It is hard to imagine a more attractive option than staying for a week in the outstanding, award-winning Freycinet Lodge and spending each day attempting a different walk.

Brief history

Before the arrival of European sealers and whalers the area was popular with Aborigines and there are many shell middens along the coast suggesting that it was a popular retreat from the coldness of the Tasmanian winter.

By the early nineteenth century whalers and sealers were well established on both Freycinet Peninsula and Schouten Island. From this time the settlement of the area was largely restricted to adventurers and near-hermits. It was Silas Cole, a lonely lime burner who collected the shells from the Aboriginal middens and burnt them for lime, who gave the town its name. He loved the area and often described its beauty to his friends when he took his lime across Great Oyster Bay to Swansea.

It wasn’t until 1934, when a retired auctioneer named Harry Parsons purchased 5 ha of land at Coles Bay, that any kind of settlement developed. Parsons’ purchase became the land for the town – and the town became a popular haunt for fishermen and bushwalkers. It was a retreat from modern life. A true escape to a small community of shanties on the edge of a beautiful bay. A rough road was hewn around the coast but most of the building materials for the town arrived on the SS Koomeela which made regular journeys across the bay.




Place Categories: Cities and Towns, East Coast and Localities.Place Tags: Coles Bay and Freycinet Peninsula.

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