If you asked people where the top 10 beaches in the world are, most of them would probably list tropical locations like the Whitsundays or Bahamas. But you might be surprised to know that one of the beaches that regularly makes an appearance in “Top 10 Beaches in the World” lists is almost as close to Antarctica as it is to the tropics. That beach is at Wineglass Bay in Tasmania.
Situated along the idyllic Freycinet Peninsula, the white sand and rust-coloured rocks of Wineglass Bay are only seen by a select few visitors to Tasmania each year. To see Wineglass Bay you can spend several hours walking along the trail, or if you want to see it in style, hop aboard a Wineglass Bay Cruises boat (as we did) and have the experts guide you.
The friendly crew, including expert dolphin-spotter Rastus the Sea Dog (that’s not a pirate nickname… he’s an actual dog) took us on the journey from Coles Bay, around the tip of the Freycinet Peninsula and past Schouten Island, pointing out the different wildlife along the way. If you time your visit well, you may encounter whales, dolphins, seals, penguins and a plethora of bird species! The guides go out of their way to track down any interesting wildlife for visitors, and any sightings are recorded for the Tasmanian Nature Conservation Branch.
Our expert guides stopped at plenty of spots along the way to point out interesting geological features and interesting history about the area. You can see piles of shells (middens) from the ancient Aboriginal inhabitants of the area, buried (and then exposed) in the cliffs. You’ll also see the houses of some of the luckiest people in the world… they settled and built in the area before it was declared a national park, and were allowed to keep their freehold land. You can no longer buy land here, so the properties must be worth a small fortune!
The area used to be home to many industries, including coal and tin mining, and a huge number of whaling stations. In fact, the name of Wineglass Bay itself stems from a somewhat gruesome origin; when the three whaling stations in Wineglass Bay were in operation, the water in the bay turned a red colour from the blood and observers on top of the hills said that it looked like a glass filling up with red wine.
Today, however, the water is crystal clear, the sand is bright white and the whaling stations are long gone. Perhaps it’s nicer to think that Wineglass Bay is all about popping the cork on some sparkling wine and enjoying the view. And that’s exactly what we got to do; the tour guides provided us with local Tasmanian produce – beer, wine, juice, cheeses… and for those seafood lovers, freshly shucked oysters!
As you can see from the photo gallery below, the colour of the water and sand here are unbelievable (and I come from Queensland, so that’s a big call). It was hard to have to leave this spot behind, but I’ll definitely be back some day. If you want to really wind down and relax, I’d suggest staying in the area for a few days and exploring some more (or just putting your feet up on the sand with a good book).
Wineglass Bay Cruises is located at Jetty Rd, Coles Bay, on the edge of Freycinet National Park. It’s about halfway between Hobart (2.5 hrs) and Launceston (2 hrs). Cruises operate daily departing at 10am, returning at 2pm.
Adults $130, Child $85 (4-14 years), Infants (free). Bookings can be made on their website.