TAS2020: The Walks – Wineglass Bay & Hazards Beach Circuit

Setting out from Bicheno at 08:00 in an attempt to beat the crowds on our planned walk to Wineglass Bay on Freycinet Peninsula, we arrived at an almost empty the car park and were walking by 09:00. I completed this walk in 2019 and decided to leave my camera behind for two reasons: I has previously taken quite a few photos (as presented below) and I wanted to travel as lightly as possible, knowing how tiring the last leg of the walk was the last time!

Climbing the 1.3 km to the lookout with views across Wineglass Bay is a mix of relatively smooth track and stone steps. Including stopping to catch our breath at a couple of much appreciated benches on the way we arrived at the lookout in about 45 minutes. There is no doubt that the view from here is stunning and well worth the climb, particularly as we were fortunate to have some decent sunny weather.

The ascent includes steps and a couple of benches for the weary

I had already described the challenge of the last leg of the circuit via Hazards Beach to Kerena, so, at the lookout it was decision time: do we make the descent to the Bay and complete the 15 km circuit, or go back the way we came (bearing in mind that we had covered 20km the day before). Undaunted, we set off down the steep and seemingly never-ending steps to Wineglass Bay. As well as the circuit, this part of the path is also access to a few of the campsites further into and down the peninsula, so it was with great admiration that we greeted a few groups of intrepid campers with what looked like very heavy backpacks making their way back up the endless steps after a night or two camping.

The much-photographed view of the bay from the lookout

The Bay was an ideal spot to pause for morning tea and to soak in the views and listen to the calming sound of the waves rolling onto the sand. Compared to the ascent and descent we had just completed, the next leg of the walk was very flat across an even track that featured the occasional stretch of boardwalk through trees and open swamp. At the end of the track, we climbed the reverse side of a sand dune and down the other side onto the extensive Hazard Beach, along which we continued on the hard sand next to the sea to reach the far end and the last leg of the circuit.

Apart from being common sense, notices on many of the beaches we visited in Tasmania advise walkers not to walk along the soft sand due to nesting birds. The dunes along Hazard Beach have many Aboriginal shell middens which are protected by law. It was therefore disappointing to see a large group of about twelve people walking towards us on the soft sand collecting shells. I am not sure what more can be done to protect nature, our legacy and our environment, but hopefully closing walks such as this is not an option.

This next section follows the coastline back to the start of the ascent to the lookout. The first kilometre or so is relatively easy with the track dipping up and down at a number of small rocky bays. However, the ups and downs became a bit more serious once we reached the cliffs. By this time, it was the middle of the day with the temperature on the increase. With the vegetation comprising only low trees, we found it difficult to find a shady lunch spot. As I remembered from 2019, this track seemed to go on for ever and the last couple of kilometres were quite draining, partly due to the increasing temperature. However, we eventually made it back on the track to the lookout and turned, with some relief, back to the car park.

One of the rocky bays (what does the face on the foreground rock remind you of?)

It was on this part on the track that we passed a small group of lads heading for the lookout. We overheard one of them saying “well, it can’t be that bad if those old sods made it”. Little did they know this pair of ‘old sods’ did the climb and a hell of a lot more!

We arrived back at the car park at about 14:00 for is a welcome cup of tea and change of footwear. Not that I would do this walk a third time, it is one that should not be missed. The climb to the lookout is itself worth the effort, but with time and a reasonable level of fitness the full circuit is a rewarding experience.

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