Tasmania is a hiking paradise and playground for lovers of the great outdoors
It’s a bright, beautiful Sunday morning; the sun is out and the sky is deep blue with puffy clouds on the horizon. The panorama has the trappings of a picture perfect postcard, despite the desolate nature of the environment. This is the Bay of Fires, a vast, pristine bay area on the north-eastern coast of Tasmania.
Accessible by road from Tasmania’s city of Launceston, the Bay of Fires, when viewed on a map, extends from Binalong Bay in the south to Eddystone Point in the north, with the Tasman Sea in front of it. But right before your eyes, the Bay of Fires truly resembles paradise, with azure waters, lush forests and white sandy beaches peppered with orange-hued rocks and boulders covered in lichen.
The rocks, a permanent fixture at the Bay of Fires, have often been at the centre of confusion over how the area obtained its name, due to the seemingly fiery colour of the rocks under the bright sun. However, the Bay of Fires was actually given its name in 1773 by Captain Tobias Furneaux of the HMS Adventure, which sailed with the HMS Resolution on James Cook’s second expedition to the Pacific. As he travelled along the coast, Furneaux noticed numerous fires along the beaches, lit by native Aborigines who inhabited the area.
Today, the Bay of Fires is an ecological paradise and a vast conservation area. It is also a playground for outdoorsmen, many of whom journey to the area to camp, boat, bird-watch, fish and surf.
Amid all these activities, the Bay of Fires’ stunningly diverse landscape supplies one of the best hiking experiences in the region. Enthusiasts come here to blaze a trail, so to speak, through the Bay of Fires.
The Bay of Fires Lodge Walk (bayoffires.com.au), one of the cornerstones of Tourism Australia’s Great Walks campaign this year, is a heart-pumping excursion that puts the traveller in the thick of the Tasmanian wilderness. Held from October to May, the walk is a four-day, three-night experience that immerses visitors in one of the most primal environments that Tasmania offers.
Hiking here is no mere walk in the park; the varied terrain includes steep climbs and sharp descents, covering vast distances along soft beaches and over massive sand dunes, with occasional wading through knee-deep streams and rivers. Participants must also carry backpacks filled with gear, clothes, food and water, which can weigh well over 10 kilograms.
Because of this, traversing the Bay of Fires is challenging and often tiring; it can leave some holidaymakers worse for wear. The remoteness of this area will also disconnect travellers from the outside world – telecommunications are virtually non-existent and the only people who’ll likely be spotted on the trip will be the ones you’re travelling with.
The upside is that you will be smack in the middle of Tasmania’s sweeping wilderness, where unique Australian wombats, wallabies, dolphins and whales can be seen in their natural habitats and aboriginal heritage can be discovered up close. And even though the terrain can be harsh, hikers will not be completely deprived of creature comforts.
The first night in the Bay of Fires will be spent at the Forester Beach Camp in somewhat spartan twin-share, semi-permanent tents, but accommodation on the other nights will be at the cosy, exclusive Bay of Fires Lodge, which has been operating since 2000 and promises a comfortable rest after an exhausting day outdoors.
Constructed to cause minimal strain on the environment, the Bay of Fires Lodge exudes warmth, space and style, despite being in the middle of nowhere. To accentuate its connection to the surrounding flora and fauna and the nearby ocean, the lodge’s design is complemented by large windows that capitalise on natural light and views of the forest, while a large timber sundeck offers a sprawling look at the Tasman Sea.
The lodge operates mostly using solar power and is bolstered by a diesel generator, while general water use is derived from a rainwater harvest system. It’s equipped with an inviting fireplace, hot showers, and private rooms with large, comfortable beds. Although the composting toilets do require getting used to, it’s nevertheless a big step up from camping out in the woods.
The appeal of the Bay of Fires Lodge can also be attributed to its high level of service. Five-star meals comprising the freshest local produce are prepared daily and served with fine Tasmanian wines and beer, whilst an open kitchen stocked with coffee, tea and gourmet treats are available around the clock. Some might call this ‘hiking with class,’ something the Bay of Fires delivers for those who are game for an inimitably memorable holiday.