Walking the Bay of Fires

Trip Start Feb 04, 2010
Trip End Feb 12, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Tasmania,
Thursday, March 4, 2010

The true Bay of Fires region is south of Eddystone Point and north of Ansons Bay where Tobias Furneaux spotted aboriginal fires along the coastline in 1773.  Our walk took in areas immediately to the north and south of this historic area on the advice of Johno, owner of Johno's Quirky 4WD Adventures, given our time frame and these areas were considered to be the more spectacular sections.  We based ourselves out of the town of St. Helens for our walk along the Bay of Fires and utilized the services of Johno to shuttle us to sections of the walk and retrieve us at the end of the day.  Johno was indeed a wealth of knowledge on life in north-east Tasmania, its history, the best spots for a good feed after a day hike and his local knowledge of penetrating 4WD routes along the coast and over the Blue Tier mountain range.

Day 1 - we walked some 30 km as we were dropped off at Camp #1 in the Cape Naturaliste area and made our way down around Stumpys Bay, Cod Bay, Purdon Bay to the Eddystone Lighthouse.  This seven hour coastal walk hugged the Mount William National Park and took in pristine white sand beaches, azure colored waters and the odd sections of rotting seaweed that washed up on the shore.  With Nancy's youthful parents, we climbed rocky outcrops on occasion that were reasonably simply to navigate and we tried to keep to the hard packed sand at the water line.  However, as the tide rolled in, we were forced up onto the softer sand which made for a slightly more challenging wander along the coast.  There were a number of bird and wallaby tracks throughout the coastal sands but no animals were spotted.  After a solid day with minimal breaks and a 15 minute lunch stop, we approached the Eddystone lighthouse.  However, getting up to the lighthouse car park (our meeting point and pick up) was arduous and required us to locate a non-descript, slightly overgrown path near the base of the rocky outcrop that the lighthouse commanded over.  This track was most likely used by wallabies rather than humans and finally meandered its way through the dense bush to the lighthouse access road for a gently climb up to our destination.  As a side note, we did not get a chance to see any kangaroos wading in the surf along the coast this particular day as they apparently like to have a dip in the ocean periodically to help remove bugs from their coats.

Day 2 - the Policeman's Point to The Gardens stretch of the coast was a much more difficult walk relative to Day 1's wander along the coastal beaches as there were a few more cumbersome outcrops that needed to be climbed and patches of rocky boulders along the shore line.  On the advice from our transport driver, we attempted to cut across the isthmus of the peninsula near The Gardens in order to avoid confronting an impassable body of water near an inlet across from our pickup at The Gardens.  What ensued at this point was what I can only imagine to be a day in the life of the early explorers such as Anthony Van Demien and Abel Tasman that effectively resulted in our 4 person expedition team forging its way through the Tasmanian bush in search of any known civilization.  Guided by a trusty map, we trudged off into the wild via the creation of our own path through dense ferns and we undertook a fairly arduous hike uphill that finally resulted in the appearance of a farmer's access road.  After winding our way, through a farmer's field, past herds of Angus cattle and the farmer's house, we made it to the end destination in time before Johno sent out the search party to look for us! Cloudy weather, impending rains, odd boulder ridden sections of coast and bush walking through a fern forest made for a grueling day which took almost five hours to complete. 

Despite the effort this second day, walking the Bay of Fires was truly an amazing experience and a glimpse into a remote, and still untouched, corner of Tasmania.  We were aware that a Tasmanian company offers an uber deluxe $1,950 per person Bay of Fires walk (4 days, 3 nights), and despite our Day 2 experience, I would be more than happy to do it again on the cheap for a fraction of the cost as we were totally alone along kilometres of coastline with the exception of a few sea birds. 
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