Seaside towns, cool waterholes and sleepy rivers in the wilderness. This is how Tasmanians spend summer by the water. Want to find the lesser known spots our locals go? When the temps get balmy and the gentle breeze flows, you might find them at one of these locales. From wide ocean beaches to coastal towns filled with sandy feet, we’ve got your summer covered.
1. The Mermaid’s Pool
Pack the clubs and hide away at Lost Farm Lodge in Bridport. It’s not just golf enthusiasts that are drawn to the sandy dunes of this windswept links course on Tasmania’s North East coast. For one, there’s a secret Mermaid’s Pool that appears at high tide, a short stroll along the Bridport Walking Track. Following a dip in the swimming hole, hours can disappear in the Lost Farm Spa with its steam room, mineral salt spa and signature couple’s treatments. Add to this that seven nationally acclaimed cool climate vineyards are nearby, including the sparkling wonder that is Jansz, and you’ll want to ‘travel slowly’ in Bridport. Weave through the vines of Pipers Brook Vineyard with its sweeping ocean views one day and be surrounded by a sea of violet the next. Bridestowe is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest lavender farm.
Image Credit: Sean Fennessy
2. BOAT HARBOUR BEACH
This little patch of North West heaven has been a well-harboured secret. Catch a glimpse of the sapphire waters rolling into Boat Harbour beach and you’ll understand why shack owners will never sell. The water is fresh, even in summer, but this doesn’t stop locals taking an early morning dive. Follow their invigorating lead. Nearby, Rocky Cape National Park is compact yet diverse. Walking trails hug the coast with broad Bass Strait views and share a vivid insight into the region’s early days. Rock shelters and Aboriginal caves date back 8,000 years and the remains of shipwrecks reflect the less fortunate early explorers.
Image Credit: Rick Eaves
3. OCEAN BEACH
Not all coastal escapes are about palm trees and tropical cocktails. You won’t find a row of deck chairs on Ocean Beach near Strahan. What you will find is a far-reaching wild sandy stretch – the stage for arguably Australia’s finest and rarest sunsets. It’s beauty is in its rawness. Late evening strolls often demand long sleeves, even mid-summer. A stay in Strahan doesn’t have to be land based. Hop aboard Stormbreaker, a 65-foot ketch, for an overnight Upper Gordon River Cruise. There’s also 2.5 hour lunch and dinner cruises, complete with a spot of fishing and a kayak. Keep the adventure theme going with a West Coast Wilderness Railway and King River Rafting combo. Because where else can you combine romantic steam-powered travel with wetsuit-clad rapids?
Image Credit: Paul Fleming
Some will travel a long, long way to join the Lobster Shack line at Bicheno’s gulch. You need only try the freshly cooked Southern Rock Lobster once to understand why. On balmy summer evenings, lobster is best enjoyed on the rocks with a crisp Pinot Gris from the Farm Shed. There’s a picnic bench down near the blow hole (just ask a local) that provides nature’s entertainment. Depending on ocean swell, the blow can shoot some 20 metres skyward. There’s plenty on offer in this seaside town, from glass bottom boat tours to a welcome party of little penguins come dusk. Oh, and the water holes at Douglas-Apsley National Park are something else. Head for the closest one (15 minute walk) if you don’t mind sharing, or rise early and commit to hours on foot. You might just be rewarded with your own private outdoor bath.
Image Credit: Courtesy of The Lobster Shack
It’s little wonder Stanley has doubled as a movie set – the streetscape is seemingly trapped in time. Famed for ‘The Nut,’ a large volcanic plug that towers grandly over Bass Strait, this working fishing village is a great North West escape. Let a few days drift by within the historic walls of @VDL Stanley. From here, it’s an easy stroll to collect fresh crays from the wharf. Head to Providore 24 and gather some crusty bread, Tasmanian cheeses and a bottle of vino. Enjoy by the water’s edge, or take your picnic supplies to Stanley’s higher ground and conquer The Nut. Nearby, chopper flights depart for scenic sojourns over the Tarkine, home to Australia’s largest tract of temperate rainforest.
Image Credit: Paul Hoelen
6. SISTERS BEACH
If you’re not familiar with Sisters Beach it’s probably because North West coasters keep it quiet and only a lucky handful of visitors are in the know. If you want to do Sisters in style, book in to Sandals Luxury Beach House, a private family abode right on the beach. Stock up on Tassie produce in Wynyard, from the Lemon Tree Providore. They can even have a personalised hamper at the ready for you to collect. At Sister’s Beach, just do as the locals do. Fossick for shells, catch a wave, head to Rocky Cape National Park or pull out the book you’ve been trying to read for the last six months. Slow down and let Sisters have its relaxing coastal way over you.
Image Credit: Andrew McIntosh, Ocean Photography
At the mouth of the Prosser River, close to an hour from Hobart is the holiday township of Orford. So close to the capital, this means you can be casting a line off the beach or heading for a temperate dive site in no time. It’s the reason many Hobartians have shacks they migrate to come summer time. An ideal base for exploring Maria Island National Park, there’s boat cruising, ocean fishing, summit climbing and local beaches to explore. Take the clifftop walk that runs about two kilometres from East Shelly to Spring Beach, affording sea views and passing the 19th Century sandstone quarry that provided stone for Melbourne’s Law Courts. If you want to get out on the water, East Coast Cruises take you deep into sea caves, serve up fine Tassie fare and deposit you onto Maria as part of their full day tour.
Image Credit: Andrew Wilson
Rumour has it that the petite islands of Faith, Hope and Charity down at Dover were named to inspire convicts at the nearby probation station. On a seaside escape, they might carry your own meaning. Located in Tasmania’s Far South, Dover has always been a popular base for walks (Adamson’s Peak towers behind) and keen anglers. If seclusion is what you seek, why not hire out an entire peninsula? The newer Boat House accommodation of The Peninsula Experience is just for two. Pass through the bold red gate and the headland is all yours complete with walking trails, spa and even a helipad. Visit St. Imre Vineyard or take an early Ida Bay Railway trip for a picnic at the bay and have the train collect you later on.
Image Credit: Rob Burnett
There are few towns that rival the views of Swansea – Great Oyster Bay stretches out across to the pink-hued granite peaks of Freycinet National Park. Just outside town, check in to Avalon Coastal Retreat or Rocky Hills Retreat tucked away on the hillside. There’s an artist studio up there and Huon pine baths at both to ensure maximum relaxation. A glass from one of the many vineyards dotted along the Great Eastern Drive is a fitting accompaniment. There’s loads of colonial history in town (take a self-guided wander) and the Spiky Bridge, built by convict hands using field stones, is worth a visit. No cement or mortar in this construction! Kate’s Berry Farm has plump fresh berries only topped by the views and in town the latest catch is high on the menu.
Image Credit: Brett Boardman
Want to get away? Like really away to the edge of the world? Stay on the banks of the Pieman River at Corinna. Here, the quiet and peace and lack of humans works its calming magic. Dip a kayak paddle in the river or take the Huon pine Arcadia II riverboat journey up to the mouth of the Pieman. Corinna sits at the southern end of the Tarkine so there’s ample old growth rainforest to explore on foot from this former gold mining town. Take the relaxed Huon Pine Walk or more challenging Mount Donaldson climb before retreating to a restored miner’s cottage. This is seclusion Tassie style. No one will find you here!
Image Credit: Rob Burnett