Yes, Tasmania does exist. Not just in cartoons. It is the island State of Australia – tucked right at the bottom of the country – or just up from Antartica.
And there really are Tasy Devils, just like Taz in the Looney Tunes cartoons. Ferocious and short tempered, small carnivorous marsupials about the size of a small poodle. I once had one outside my tent in the bush, letting loose with the most bloodcurdling screech. Frightenedthe life out of me!
They’ve become a bit of a mascot in Tasmania, and a lot of work is done to protect them. Not my favourite Tasmanian wildlife though. Give me a Tasy wombat any day!
Which leads me to the beauty of Tasmania – that’s real too. More spectacular than photos can depict – at least my amateur efforts. An island full of mountains, rainforests, lakes, rivers, fine sand beaches and in winter, snowy landscapes. My island – the place I was born and brought up. I’ve lived away for more than 40 years, but I still think of it as home.
One of my most favourite places is the 29 kilometre long Bay of Fires, tucked up on the north eastern coast of the island. Breathtaking. Pure. Crystal clear waters, edged by ribbons of white sand so fine it squeaks under your feet.
I used to think this area was called Bay of Fires because of the striking granite rocks with bright orange lichen that you find along the Bay. But apparently English navigator Captain Tobias Furneaux proclaimed its name in 1773 after seeing fires from aboriginal people on the beaches. Either way, the name suits this outstanding coastline.
The Bay of Fires is a popular holiday spot, with international recognition from international guide book Lonely Planet. It says it’s one of the hottest travel destinations in the world.
“This is the secret edge of Tasmania, laid out like a pirate’s treasure map of perfect beach after sheltered cove, all fringed with forest.” wrote Lonely Planet back in 2009. Frankly, nothing has changed. It’s still magnificent, unspoilt, stunning.
Don’t expect any nightclubs here, fancy resorts, upmarket beachwear shops or drinks served to you by the water’s edge (unless you’ve got a obliging partner). You make your own fun – fishing, swimming, boulder hopping, bird watching, relaxing ….. sand through your toes.
A small cruise company – Bay of Fires Eco Tours – offers several types of trips along the Bay of Fires coastline. I haven’t taken one of these cruises, but they have been operating for many years, so I’m presuming they are good.
I mentioned birdwatching – plenty here to keep the birders happy other than the usual array of seabirds
The Bay of Fires is a conservation area, limiting the availability of accommodation. However, there are some lovely free beachside camping spots in designated areas. No bookings are needed, though in peak seasons they fill up quickly. For details, check out the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service website.
There’s a tiny settlement of houses at Binalong Bay at the Southern end of the Bay of Fires, and many offer holiday rentals or bed and breakfast. I’ve stayed in ‘The Loft’ apartment. Breathtaking views. Beautiful place. Expensive , but a treat and worth the money.
More importantly, I didn’t have to trek outside for sunset and sunrise photos. The Loft gave me a bird’s eye view!
Ten minutes drive away from Binalong Beach is the coastal resort town of St Helens, with a bigger selection of accommodation, shops and restaurants. It’s a popular and busy little holiday town, particularly with locals. Pleasant, but never a favourite for me.
I like to stay in Binalong Bay. It replenishes my soul to wake up to a Bay of Fires sunrise and end my day with a sunset there.
As usual, I’ve taken all the photographs for this story. Looking at them again, I just want to go back there!
COMING SOON –
SUMIMASEN, TOIRE WA DOKODESU KA – or – Excuse me, where is the toilet? – a tale of international travel toileting.
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