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Freycinet National Park is almost synonymous with its most well-known beach, the iconicly and perfectly scalloped Wineglass Bay. Visitors who can’t manage the hike up to and down from the bouldered saddle of the Hazards do their best to at least climb to the Lookout. The last time I did so it was late summer evening, clouds darkening the sky and a shaft of bright sun slanting onto that white sand far below. Peaceful silence cloaked our looking.

I’ve never swum in the iced waters of Wineglass Bay but I’ve basked on its sunwarmed rocks, paddled my feet in the glass-clear water and searched out enormous sea stars in the rock pools. Their leathery bodies echo the colours of water, sky and lichen-covered boulders – reds, oranges and deep blues.

Reds and blues are the palette of Freycinet. They flame out in contrast to the muted gentleness of grey-green vegetation. They catch the first and last rays of the sun, and bounce back its brilliance.

This beautiful corner of the world lies centrally on Tasmania’s East Coast. Its National Park status is absolutely deserved. Approaching Freycinet from the west, the pink and orange humped Hazards ringing the span of Great Oyster Bay, is unforgettable.

Freycinet is a peninsula. It juts into the ocean, its further reaches accessible only to walkers and boats. Or the occasional seaplane.

The small hamlet of Coles Bay nestles just below the Hazards. The sands are coarse granite grains – pink, grey, white and gold – reminiscent of so many rough little hailstones. Quite different to the fine white sands of Wineglass Bay.

In summers the beaches are assailed with campers, some who’ve brought their families here for generations. The track to the Lookout can traffic jam. But there’s always somewhere to slip away to – this is still paradise.

The coastline is varied, each bay and headland different. Honeymoon Bay is a favoured swimming spot, safe for children, its tiny bay enclosed by sheltering arms of rock. It’s entrancing circular cove looks directly up to the Hazards.

Sleepy Bay on the opposite side of the peninsula faces the ocean. Its red cliffs plunge starkly into the intensely turquoise sea below. Kelp rushes back and forth with the wave flow. A track along its clifftops through rustling sheoaks takes you to Little Gravelly Beach. I confess this one is my favourite. It’s a sheltered cove edged with rock pools and bizzarely shaped orange boulders. Swallows nest inside the cavity of a particularly large one. The stone is smoothed granite that sparkles in the sun. Here I love to lie with the warmth seeping into my bones, swallows skimming the bright sky above.

Just returned from an autumn sojourn to Freycinet, I’m grateful for the vistas of silver sea, roiling cloud and orange rock that still crowd my mind. The weather turned fierce, with biting winds and white caps far into the distance. On the last day it settled and a yacht ventured into the bay, sail lit white against the sea.

The fresh air’s ventilated my lungs and blown the cobwebs from my brain. Freycinet’s like taking a cold shower – after a slight shock, you come home cleansed.

Author: Merridy Pugh
Merridy Pugh is an editor and writer based in Hobart. She loves books, sun and tropical fish.

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