The Bay of Fires is a region often spruiked as one of the top places to visit in Tasmania, yet you can walk along its beaches and see no other people in sight. Reading this right now, you may already be aware of the aquamarine oceans, orange lichen on the granite boulders and pristine white sands of this coastline. Perhaps it currently sits on your list of must-see places. I’ve been fortunate to have a family shack at Ansons Bay, one of the few communities nested in this beautiful region since I was six. I know the area intimately, and I’d like to introduce you to a few remote parts of this fifty-kilometre stretch of coastline, places to stir your adventurous spirit. So you can plan the perfect getaway to the Bay of Fires.
It’s important to realise how remote much of this coastline is before planning a trip to this region. Most of the Bay of Fires is only accessible by gravel roads or walking tracks, and if you plan to visit with a hire car, it’s important to note that many hire car companies require you to stay off unsealed roads. Only the southern end of the Bay of Fires can be reached by tarmac and only as high as The Gardens. Another option to explore this region is to take your vehicle across on the Spirit of Tasmania from Geelong to Devonport to explore the northern stretch of this coast (check out their website for prices, availability and more information). From Devonport, the Bay of Fires is a three and a half hour drive for either of the two main routes, depending on which end you’re heading to. The gravel roads that run throughout this region are maintained regularly but can be slow going. Like most parts of Australia, when driving in areas off the beaten track, try to avoid the animal hour and into the night. As you’d expect, this place is teaming with wildlife that may decide to do a last minute dash across the road.
I want to deviate for a moment to provide a couple of options to the limited traveller. Whether that’s a contractual obligation to avoid gravel or being poor on time, you can still get a taste of the Bay of Fires. The easiest way to access the Bay of Fires is from the southernmost end, at Cosy Corner beach, where the Bay of Fires begins, nestled beside the township of Binalong Bay. You can also head as far as The Gardens car park, a short drive away on a sealed road. From the carpark, you can walk along the beaches and sheltered coves and experience this majestic coastline.
The Gardens walk to Policemans Point is a coastal walk, which one way is thirteen kilometres, and obviously, doubles if you venture back the same way. Full disclosure, I have never returned the same day. I’ve always arranged to be picked up from the Policemans Point by friends or family. One time when I did this walk, the only mammal I spotted before reaching Policemans Point was a seal basking in the sun. This walk is primarily flat but has rocky headlands between beaches where you need to cut through the bush at times and follow the edge of the land around, along with many granite boulders you need to rock-hop along. This walk also has a few sections of plate-sized rocks for several hundred metres, rather than sand, that can be unsteady underfoot, so make sure you watch your step. In the warmer months, when doing this walk, I have seen a couple of snakes sunbaking on the rocks, so watch your footing. Be sure to take a backpack with plenty of water and food. It’s also best to do this walk at low tide to ensure you have as much beach as possible.
The northern end of the Bay of Fires is the part of this coastline I know most intimately. If you want to walk along this section, you can access it by driving to Eddystone Point and parking in the day use area. While you’re here, it’s worth checking out the lighthouse too. There are two ways to get down to the shoreline. The first way is to walk up to the western side of the biggest house and follow the footpath up to the bench, where you can look south over the coast. A track leads from the bench down to a small bay, which is the start of the Bay of Fires. From here, clamber around the headland onto Abbotsbury Beach, and you can keep exploring south. Alternatively, the other access point is from a small car park area off the gravel road, on the left, six hundred metres after leaving Eddystone Point carpark, opposite a private gravel road. From this car park, walk along the narrow access trail to Abbotsbury Beach. Much like The Gardens Walk, this is primarily a flat hike but has multiple headlands with large sections of granite boulders to climb around. Again, it’s best to pack plenty of water and food. For the experienced hiker, you can walk as far south as the mouth of Anson’s Bay, quite literally opposite Policemans Point, although separated by a significant body of water. This section is ten kilometres one way, so you may choose to only walk part way along before turning back, as there aren’t any easily accessible pickup points along this stretch of coastline.
When it comes to accommodation, this region has a wide array of options. For those who want to keep things simple and cheap whilst immersed in nature, there are plenty of camping options available, all you need is a temporary Tasmanian National Parks pass and pay the fee. North of the Bay of Fires, in Mount William National Park, is the Deep Creek campground. While not officially part of the Bay of Fires, it’s a short drive away and has beaches nearby that are on par with those of the Bay of Fires. Policemans Point also has a campground sheltered in native bush, right by the mouth of Ansons Bay. Other camping options at the southern end of this fifty kilometres of coastline include; Sloop Reef Camping, Jeanneret Beach Campsite, Swimcart Road Camping Ground, Cosy Corner South and Cosy Corner North. These campsites do not have drinking water available, so you will need to bring your own. Alternatively, there are plenty of holiday homes available in the region, including in the townships of Binalong Bay and St Helens. And if it’s luxury that you’re after, you could even stay at the Bay of Fires Lodge.
This region has so many nooks and coves you could explore. I’m merely brushing the surface of what’s available to see and do. All I can do is urge you to put time aside and visit this region for a few days. Or, even if you’re short on time, stop by and wander along the white sand of Cosy Corner and gaze out at the azure water and the orange lichen covered granite.