Schouen Island & Wineglass Bay

Published: April 9th 2018
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This morning was difficult to get out of bed. Not because we were tired, but because the bed was extremely comfortable and we were very warm.

We were woken around 5:45 by a loud crash outside, and after a moment, realised it was one of the deck chairs crashing over as it was very windy outside – not a comforting thought when your whole accommodation is in the middle of a national park with an abundance of very tall trees.

By then, we were wide awake, but stayed in bed until our alarm went off an hour later. After showering, we went down to breakfast, which was covered in the cost of our accommodation, so we didn’t need to pay any extra.

It was your typical selection of hot and cold food most hotels provide for breakfast, but they also offered barista made coffee and hot drinks at no extra cost.

The breakfast restaurant overlooked Richardsons Beach. We were lucky enough to have a seat right by the window, so it was a beautiful view.

Freycinet Lodge is honestly a beautiful place to stay. I highly recommend it to anyone who is coming to Freycinet National Park. It is pricey to stay, but well worth it. You’re well looked after, with two dinner options each night, a secluded cabin and a lounge with plenty of room to sit.

After breakfast, we headed back to our cabin to collect our things for the day and then headed to the reception area where we were told to wait for the shuttle bus for our 4 hour cruise from Coles Bay to Wineglass Bay, by Wineglass Bay Cruises.

Until a few days ago, we had never heard of Wineglass Bay, but as soon as you reach the area, it is all you see in advertising, so by now, we were interested in seeing it.

We were under the impression the bus was coming at 9, but it was actually 9:30, so we waited for some time. But by 9:30, we were on our way to the dock where the cruise was to start – a 5 minute trip, giving us plenty of time to depart by 10.

Along with the wind, the sky was overcast and there were a few drops of rain around, making the day fairly miserable. After getting off the bus, we needed to go to reception to check in and receive our boarding pass.

Unfortunately, as they checked us in, they explained that due to the weather, the boat could only go part of the way and wouldn’t be going to this widely spoken about Wineglass Bay. They were offering refunds for anyone choosing not to go anymore, and as the cruise was shorter, also offered a small discount to anyone choosing to go still.

Having nothing else on our itinerary, we still opted to go, as we’d get to see parts of Tasmania we’d never seen before anyway.

It was a small group of people boarding, so by 10, we were on our way, and it didn’t take us long at all to understand why they were choosing to not go all the way. The part that they did take was rough, and on a small boat, it was felt. Water splashed against windows, and for some of us who had little experience with boats, it was a little unsettling.

As we headed out, the captain, Kerry, provided us with an extensive history of all the beaches and coves we passed on the boat. We were then helped by three crew members, who were constantly checking to make sure everyone was okay and helping people who may have been feeling a little seasick.

We made it all the way down and around part of the island called Schouen Island. Its current inhabitants are fur seals and eagles, though during summer, people are able to camp along two of the beaches.

We entered a small bay where there were around twenty fur seals sitting on rocks and enjoying a small amount of sunlight that was just starting to show through. This was quite interesting to see, as it was the closest I have ever been to seals.

The boat spent some time sitting in the bay, where the water was still and crystal clear, before Kerry took us a little bit over to another bay where there were caves where people sometimes swam. Being a cold, choppy day, there was no one there, but I can see why people would want to swim there during summer – the water is clear and looks very nice, even from the boat.

By this time, it was lunch time – something that is included in the cost of the cruise. Everyone was provided with a box (dietary requirements are considered upon booking) which had salad, meat, cheese and biscuits, potato salad, a bread roll and even a small bit of rocky road. It was quite yummy.

For lunch, we anchored in a beautiful bay with lovely water and a beach to look at from the boat. It was truly wonderful to sit there and eat. I didn’t want to leave.

We stopped for about 40 minutes, upon which we began heading back to the dock. By now, the weather had greatly improved and we were now moving with the swell, making the trip back smooth and enjoyable – very much unlike the way there.

Although we were unable to go to Wineglass Bay, we still really enjoyed our trip to Schouen Island, which in the past had a whaling and coal industry, before becoming protected under the Freycinet National Park in the 1980s. We enjoyed seeing the seals and the beaches and our lunch in the water.

After docking, we hopped back on the bus and were taken back to the lodge. We still wanted to see Wineglass Bay, and knew there was a walking track based on the map we’d received upon arriving here.

So, we hopped into the car and drove to the carpark where the walking track began, and learnt quickly that I am terrible reading maps. Our destination was Wineglass Bay Lookout, which I guessed would be a 15 to 20 minute walk.

I was wrong. It was a 1.5 hour round trip to the top and back again, and we’d come very unprepared – no walking shoes or water. To top it off, our fitness levels were not very well suited for the steep incline it took to get to the lookout, and we stopped a lot along the way.

But eventually, we made it to the top and saw Wineglass Bay, which was beautiful. There was also a little wallaby eating a dropped apple someone had left and was very unconcerned by all the people. Although there are specific instructions to not feed or touch the wildlife there, I spotted some people were doing that and it wasn’t worried. Along the walk, we were able to get up very close to a few wallabies, which was nice.

Getting down was a lot easier, but by the end, we were exhausted. We drove back to the lodge, where we rested until heading to the bistro again for dinner.

Tomorrow, we head to Port Arthur for a night and then on to Hobart for two. We’ve absolutely loved staying in the Freycinet National Park, but are also looking to get back to where more people are as well!

It’s a 3 hour drive tomorrow, so we’ll be getting up early to make the most of our one night.

Additional photos below
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