I have long heard about how beautiful Tasmania is. The island state located in the southern tip of Australia is known for its national parks, stunning oceans, aged forests, dramatic landscapes and abundant fresh seafood. When I finally made my first trip to Tasmania, I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, the place exceeded my expectations. From the moment I landed in Hobart, I was already taken by the beautiful townships set against the scenic backdrop of rolling mountains. To think, I haven’t even seen much of Tasmania then yet.
Freycinet is a popular tourist site of Tasmania, well loved by locals as well as visitors from overseas. The town is home to the Freycinet National Park, which includes famous spots like Wineglass Bay, The Hazards and the white, sandy shores of Friendly Beaches. To make the best of your trip to Freycinet, here are the top 7 things to take note of before you go.
1.Get ready for a road trip
Most people take a self-driving road trip to Freycinet. It’s a very rewarding experience as your journey is flanked by stunning greenery and ocean views. So beautiful that drivers have to be careful about not getting too distracted by the views. Ideally, there should be more than one person driving so everyone can take turns to enjoy the view or take a break. The stretch of road from Swansea to Freycinet has many sharp bends and curves and it doesn’t help that the narrow road is open to two-way traffic. Always keep an eye out on the speed limit and watch the road conditions – such as frost.
2. Dark, dark highways
Before my trip, I read these stories about how some people had managed to catch the Southern Aurora in Tasmania. On one of the nights where the Aurora indicator was said to be rather high, we decided to hop into our car and head to a nearby bay where we could get an unblock view of the South. Imagine our surprise when we found ourselves driving along a pitch dark highway moments later! The visibility ahead was under a couple of metres. The only light was coming from our own headlights and the reflectors on the side of the road. It was a pretty unnerving experience, not to mention dangerous. Inexperienced drivers, in particular, should avoid driving around Freycinet after dark. If you’re wondering whether we managed to see the aurora in the end, the answer is unfortunately, no. But we did get to enjoy a very beautiful view of the perfectly dark and moonless night sky, which constrasted sharply with the bright, shinning stars. It was a memorable experience, but not one worth risking our lives for.
3. Your best bet is Telstra
If you’re getting an Australian phone SIM card for data access on the trip, Telstra is your best bet in Freycinet. Even then, there are black out spots around the area where no network is available – pretty common in Freycinet. When renting your lodging, do not take for granted that WiFi will be provided. Check that it’s explicitly stated in the offering.
4. Supplies, surprise
The idea of gathering around a barbeque fire in the cold, while sipping wine on the terrace was one of the experiences we were after during this trip. So much so that my travel mates and I insisted on renting a place that had barbeque facilities. And we did just that. But when we got to Freycinet after a 2.5 hour drive from Hobart, we were surprised to find that there were no proper supermarkets in the entire town of Freycinet to be found on the map. The closest you get to a supermarket is a convenience shop called ‘Coles Bay Convenience’ in the town centre! If you’re after some cold drinks, milk and light snacks, the shop comes in handy. But it’s lacking in terms of fresh meats and vegetable supplies for a decent BBQ. Later, we found out that the nearest supermarket is located in another town called Bicheno, which is about a good 35-minute drive away. Needless to say, we didn’t get to live out our BBQ dream.
5. Expensive dining
Related to the previous point on not having a proper supermarket, most of the food options in Freycinet don’t come cheap. Choices are also pretty limited. They include a restaurant called Tombolo Freycinet, which specialises in wood fire pizza (very good, by the way), a casual eatery called Iluka, The Edge Restaurant and Freycinet Marine Farm, which is only open in the day (more on this later). There are a few other eateries within a 10-minute drive from the town centre but options are limited. A simple meal at one of these places will typically set you back A$20-30 per person per meal. We’re lucky we had a few spare packets of indomee instant noodles with us on the trip as we got rather tired – and broke – from the food options by the third night of dining out in Freycinet. If you don’t want to end up like us, make sure you stock up for your trip on the way in.
6. Freycinet Marine Farm
By the time we left for Tasmania, we had read so much about Freycinet Marine Farm that our mouths were watering for fresh seafood whilst driving to the farm. We don’t know whether it was a case of pure bad luck or over expectations on our part, but Freycinet Marine Farm wasn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Sure, the seafood we had there were very fresh but they were also very limited. The menu featured a variety of oysters prepared in different ways (baked, fresh), baked scallops and salmon. When asked whether there were other food we could order in or take out, we were told that everything else available was in the glass fridge in front us. It had some fresh oysters and prawns but not much else. Mussels were also not available due to a certain strain of bacteria affecting the molluscs during that period. I remember double checking the location to see if we were at the right place. We went home disappointed that day.
7. Hotel, what hotel?
A lot of the lodging in Freycinet are private homes and villas as opposed to a conventional hotel. What this means is, there’s probably no one to greet or check you in when you arrive at your place of lodging. That’s why it’s important to familiarise yourself with how you can gain access to the rented property beforehand. For us, we had to key in a set of password sent to us via email to unlock the key to the main door upon arrival. Additionally, if you anticipate to return after dark, take some time to find the night light in your driveway and turn it on before you head out so you can locate your house after dark. We know this because we ended up circling a few times around a dark neighbourhood before we found our unit.