Freycinet National Park
Jutting out into the sea on Tasmania's mild east coast is the rugged and beautiful Freycinet Peninsula.
Freycinet National Park consists of knuckles of granite mountains all but surrounded by azure bays and white sand beaches. The dramatic peaks of the Hazards welcome you as you enter the park.
Freycinet National Park offers a wide variety of activities. Take a walk to the pass overlooking the perfectly shaped Wineglass Bay or try less strenuous activities like beach strolls, swimming or wildlife spotting.
The park is about 2 1/2 to 3 hours from either Hobart or Launceston. Turn off the Tasman Highway (A3) (which runs down the east coast of Tasmania) onto the Coles Bay Road (C302) 12 km south of Bicheno. (The turnoff to the Friendly Beaches section of the park is via a gravel road about 2 km after leaving the highway).
The main park entrance and visitor reception are just after Coles Bay township about 30km from the highway on a good quality sealed road.
Please take care when driving between sunset and sunrise as you are sharing the road with wildlife.
Located within the entrance to the park, the centre introduces the natural and cultural heritage of this region through creative displays. The centre is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm and staff are on hand to help with your enquiries.
Inside the visitor centre is a Park Shop, which sells a range of products including park passes, postcards, posters, film, clothing, and an extensive range of natural history books. Many of the products are exclusive to the Park Shop, having a special Freycinet logo embroidered or printed on them.
Day visitor facilities
Electric barbecues, picnic tables, water and toilets are located at Honeymoon Bay and Ranger Creek.
Note: Camping is extremely popular over the Christmas/New Year period and is decided by a ballot system drawn on 1 October. Applications must be made by letter/fax/email.
To protect the environment we have to limit camping to within the barriered areas on allocated sites. In the fragile sand dune area, camping is restricted to tents only, with one car per site. No caravans, campervans or minibuses are permitted in the sand dune area. Excess cars (other than the one allowed per site) must be parked in the overflow carparks located amongst the dune sites or in the carpark at Ranger Creek. Please note that we do not have laundry or hot shower facilities.
The park offers a variety of basic powered and unpowered campsites - some with cold showers. Some sites are available all year round, though the Sand Dune and Honeymoon Bay campsites are only open over summer and Easter. Only the main campsite at Richardsons Beach has powered sites. Outside of the main summer/Easter period, no bookings are taken and campers must check in at the visitor centre first. Booking and other details are found on the display board outside the visitor centre.
For overnight walkers there are small campsites at Wineglass Bay, Hazards, Cooks and Bryans Beaches. Camping and toilets are also available at the Friendly Beaches.
Refuse disposal/collection and recycling
Please help by pre-sorting your rubbish before placing it in rubbish boxes and bins provided near the powered campsites. We recycle glass bottles and jars, aluminium cans and PET soft drink bottles. Please do not leave any rubbish where it will be accessible to wildlife.
Freycinet is a fuel stove preferred area as it is very dry and vulnerable to fire. No fires are allowed in the national park. Gas and fuel stoves may be used at all campsites except on days of Total Fire Ban. On days of Total Fire Ban, no naked flames of any sort, including gas and fuel stoves are allowed in the open. The electric barbecues provided at Ranger Creek and Honeymoon Bay picnic areas can be used for cooking on these days.
Taps are located: along the sand dune access road , at the Honeymoon Bay picnic. and on power poles at the powered campsites.
The Coles Bay water supply is stretched to its limit and consequently, water restrictions are in force until further notice. We ask that you use water wisely and do not wash cars or boats. It is recommended that water be boiled before drinking.
This is located just behind the Visitors Reception Centre and the entrance is sign posted off the main road. The nearest car parking area is the overflow carpark behind the visitors centre or at Ranger Creek, 200 metres away. The theatre is used for film and slide shows, for campfire entertainment and as an activity meeting place during the summer period. See Summer Interpretive Ranger program for more details.
The theatre is available throughout the year for schools and other groups.
Freycinet National Park offers visitors a range of wonderful opportunities to enjoy spectacular coastal scenery, colourful wildflowers and a variety of Tasmania's animal life.
Your time here can be as relaxed or as energetic as you wish. Here are some suggestions to help you discover Freycinet. We hope you enjoy your visit.
Cape Tourville - The 6.4 kilometre sealed road to Cape Tourville leaves from the main road just after the Freycinet Lodge.
From the carpark, take the short, boardwalked track around the cliffline to the lighthouse. Along this fenced track are sweeping views along the coast.
The Friendly Beaches - Spectacular views and miles of unspoiled white sand beaches are the main features of The Friendly Beaches, which were added to the national park in 1992. The beaches can be reached via a signposted turnoff on the Coles Bay Road. We are upgrading facilities, which at present are only basic. Gravel roads lead to car parks overlooking the beaches at a couple of points. Some information signs point out interesting features and foot tracks lead to the beaches. Basic camping is permitted at Isaacs Point and Ridge Camp, though there is no fresh water. Isaacs Point also has pit toilets.
Ranger led activities
During summer, rangers offer a variety of activities such as walks, talks and slide shows for both adults and children. Besides being lots of fun these are a great way to learn about our national parks, wildlife and heritage.
Explore life beneath the waves. Sleepy Bay is a great place for snorkelling and diving, while Honeymoon Bay is a good sheltered area suitable for beginners. Spectacular rockpools occur at both of these locations, as well as at Ranger Creek, and are well worth a look. Please don't disturb the sea creatures as they are fragile.
Day walks (short walks)
A. Sleepy Bay - 10 minutes return - Drive to the signposted turnoff to the left, just past Freycinet Lodge. Stop at the carpark at Sleepy Bay. Gently graded steps lead to the rocky shoreline of Sleepy Bay which, despite its name, often experiences wild and rough seas.
B. Little Gravelly Beach, Sleepy Bay - 30 minutes return - After enjoying the seascape above Sleepy Bay, follow the track that leads to the right. This provides beautiful coastal views before a steep descent to this delightful cove. While the track is easy to follow, it is rough underfoot in places and passes close to some high cliff tops.
C. Wineglass Bay Lookout - 1 hour return - This walk will give you one of Tasmania's most celebrated views over the beautiful white sands of Wineglass Bay. The track is a short, fairly steep climb to the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson. From the saddle, a side track leads to a new lookout, with spectacular views over Wineglass Bay. When returning to the carpark, take care on the downhill sections as the loose gravel surface can be slippery.
D. Scenic Lookout, Friendly Beaches - 5 minutes return - The signposted parking area is just off the Isaacs Point Road. After a short walk to the vantage point you can see uninterrupted views of The Friendly Beaches and its wonderful dune system.
E. Saltwater Lagoon, Friendly Beaches - 40 minutes return - Follow the signs from the Isaacs Point road south to the carpark at the barrier gate. The walk along an old vehicular track traverses private property and ends at the edge of the Lagoon. The Lagoon abounds with waterfowl, particularly black swans. Return by the same route.
F. Wineglass Bay - 2 1/2 hours return - As for walk C, then continue on downhill to this superb bay with its long white sandy beach and crystal clear seas. A 20 minute walk along the beach to its southern end will give you magnificent views of the Hazards. Return to the carpark via the same route, or make the circuit route described below.
G. Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach circuit - 4 1/2 hours - After enjoying the delights of Wineglass Bay you cross the isthmus to Hazards Beach. To get there turn right from the Wineglass Bay track just before the Wineglass Bay Beach. After half an hour of flat walking, you reach Hazards Beach. Turn right and follow the beach to its northern end. Here you join up with another track that follows the coastline for about 5 1/2 kilometres around the base of Mt Mayson before reaching the carpark. This is about an 11km walk.
H. Hazards Beach - 5 to 6 hours return - After reaching Hazards Beach walk south along this lengthy shore. You are following in the footsteps of the Aboriginal people who once lived here, as is evident from the numerous shell middens in the dunes along the beach. After retracing your steps along the beach take your choice of returning the way you came (shorter by about an hour) or walk G, to return to the carpark.
I. Mt Amos - 3 hours return - Mt Amos is part of the range of granite mountains, known as the Hazards, which dominate Coles Bay. The track to the summit is steep and strenuous, but walkers are rewarded with panoramic views. This walk is not recommended for the elderly or young children. Walkers must be equipped with robust walking shoes or boots as the track climbs steeply over sheets of bare rock and can be slippery, especially after rain. Caution should be exercised on this track.
Some of Freycinet's more remote and beautiful areas can be visited by taking long day or overnight walks. Contact the park office for advice about the availability of water, the condition of the track and any special equipment that may be needed. The Freycinet national park map and notes is useful for all the longer walks in the park.
The Hazards Beach/Cooks Beach/Wineglass Bay Circuit is a popular three day walk (or longer if you spend some leisurely days on the beach).
Campsites for overnight walkers are situated at Wineglass Bay, Hazards, Cooks and Bryans Beaches.
Water is normally available in water tanks at Cooks Beach and in Jimmy's Creek between Mt Graham and Cooks Beach. Less reliable sources can also be found in Laguna Creek at Hazards Beach and where the track crosses the top of Grahams Creek. There is no water at Wineglass Bay or Bryans Beach. Please check with the ranger regrading water availablility before commencing overnight trips.
Picturesque Coastal Scenery
The Freycinet Peninsula is one of the State's most scenic coastal areas. The imposing granite peaks of the Hazards and the many white sandy beaches that dot the peninsula are among the highlights of the park. Combined with a typically mild, maritime climate, the scenic beauty of the area attracts many visitors each year.
Many species of birds live in or stop over at Freycinet and the surrounding area. You may be lucky enough to see a white-bellied sea-eagle gliding overhead or large Australasian gannet diving for food in the ocean. In the bushy and forested areas you'll often see or hear small nectar-feeding birds such as eastern spinebill and yellow-throated, crescent or New Holland honeyeaters. You may also see or hear large yellow-tailed black cockatoos, which often feed and fly in raucous groups. Moulting Lagoon Game Reserve, just outside the park on the Coles Bay Road, is a wetland of international importance and is also worth a visit. Bird lists are available from the park entry station.
The Freycinet Peninsula has formed over 400 million years as shown by the timeline below. The tectonic (mountain building) activity below the earth’s surface resulted in the separation of a large granite mass. The extent of this granite can be seen from Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, then down to the Kent Group, Flinders Island, the East Coast of Tasmania, with the most southerly signs being two rocks off the Tasman Peninsula.
Freycinet is effectively two eroded blocks of granite joined by a sand isthmus. These are the Hazards and the Mt Graham/Mt Freycinet sections of the peninsula. The low lying isthmus joining these areas was built from accumulated gravels that eroded from the mountains and washed into their current place by higher sea levels. When the sea receded the isthmus was exposed.
400 Million Years Ago
Off one edge of the continental shelf, layers of sand and mud accumulated, sometimes by underwater landslides, and at other times slowly, in still water. Eastern Tasmania was quite close to the equator at this time.
380 Million Years Ago
Collision of two continental plates compressed these rocks, dramatically folding and faulting them. A high mountain range was the result, slowly drifting southwards.
370 Million Years Ago
Folding and faulting produced weaker areas in the crust into which enormous masses of molten granite pushed upwards, melting the sedimentary rocks. When this cooled, solid granite remained, deeply covered and surrounded by the baked sediments. Much of the overlying material was then eroded away, exposing granite at the surface.
290 Million Years Ago
As continental drift moved Tasmania close to the Polar Regions, the East Coast sank beneath the sea, and glaciers dropped large stones into fine sediments which built up on the sea floor. The granite was eventually covered by hundreds of metres of siltstone and sandstone.
170 Million Years Ago
Instead of being compressed, up welling magma began to force the crust apart all along the East Coast of Tasmania. Masses of molten dolerite were forced in between horizontal layers deposited previously. The Tasman Sea began to open up as the crust slowly rifted.
60 Million Years Ago
As the Tasman Sea opened further, large blocks of land were uplifted whilst others sank. What is now the Freycinet Peninsula became a low range, whilst Great Oyster Bay opened up as earthquakes caused the underlying rocks to sink downwards. Surface streams eroded the ranges to form ‘The Hazards’ which we see today.
2 Million Years Ago
The earth entered an Ice Age. A series of glacial periods covered much of Western Tasmania with ice. However, even in glacial times, there was not enough precipitation on the east coast to build up deep snow banks.
Today & Onwards
Weathering and erosion of the granite mountain areas still continues today. This can be seen by the discolouration on rock surfaces where water emerges from joints on large rock surfaces. This is due to deposition of iron oxide and other minerals, originally dissolved as water moved slowly between granite blocks.
The most common minerals in the granite consist of feldspar (orthoclase), which is pink or cream, micas (black mineral) and quartz (white and glassy mineral). These can be easily seen in the boulders and outcrops throughout the park.
The pink tint of ‘The Hazards’ is caused by iron oxide impurities in feldspar, which is a component of granite. There is also an orange lichen cover on many of the rocks. Combined, these give a pink tint to ‘The Hazards’ and other areas which are dominated by granite.
Many Beaches, Different Sands
Sands are eroded and weathered by water and wind, then sorted and shifted by the same natural forces. This has resulted in differences between sands of various beaches within the park. Other factors contributing to the creation of sands include a range of coastal processes including the bedrock type, the energy of the coast and the amount of longshore drift.
Sleepy Bay’s gravelly sand is almost new as pebbles of granite have recently eroded from The Hazards with the pink feldspar colouring still fresh and bright.
The sand at Friendly Beaches is much older because it began as quartz bearing rock, weathered into quartz sand, was buried and compacted into sandstone, then eroded again and again to produce finer sand. Silica, one of the most common minerals in the Earth’s crust is a component of the sand at Friendly Beaches. The high purity of the sand led to several companies investigating the possibility of mining the sand for glass. The silica in the sand at Friendly Beaches also leads to the question…
Why does sand squeak when you walk on it?
It only occurs when a certain type of sand (e.g. silica), with grains of a certain size, create layers from the wind and moisture. The sand also needs to be well weathered, smooth and fairly rounded.
The squeaking noise is caused by friction of the layers rubbing against each other. Polluted sands will not squeak because of foreign matter mixed in with the sand. Therefore, a beach with squeaky sand is a clean beach.
What's Significant about Shouten Island?
Although well over 80% of Freycinet is composed of granite, Schouten Island has a very different geology to the majority of the peninsula. A fault line bisects Schouten Island from north to south through its centre, with dolerite to the west and granite to the east of the fault line. The dolerite soils of Schouten Island made it viable for farming during the 1800s. On closer inspection, it is possible to see the differences in the vegetations of a dolerite and granite environment. The dolerite soils of Schouten Island produce eucalypt forest, whereas the granite environments tend to be bare rocks amongst some scattered heath communities.
Commercial Use of Granite
Freycinet granite is highly sought after as a feature material in architecture. Some buildings which feature Freycinet granite include the Commonwealth Bank Head Office and Marine Board buildings in Hobart, as well as New Parliament House in Canberra.
But how was the granite originally quarried?
The granite quarry located near The Fisheries started operating in 1934 by Italian stonemasons who recognised the unique decorative value of Freycinet granite. Explosives were used to break down large blocks of rock, which were broken down further using drills, plugs and hammers. However, in the 1970s the quarry was closed due to high running costs as well as environmental concerns.
Freycinet National Park Office
Bicheno TAS 7215
Phone:03 6256 7000
Fax:03 6256 7090
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania