One of the things I love most about Tasmania is the diversity of landscape. It is the rugged, untouched mountainous central region that gets all the glory as it is so uniquely Tasmanian, however, it is the coastal region on the east that really gets my attention.
Crystal clear water sparkling in the sunlight reflecting all shades of aqua and blue, clean white sandy beaches, and mountains of rocks covered in bright orange lichen. This landscape is just as unique as the mountains and the valleys and it is one that even after 2 visits, I still cannot wait to return to.
Now you have probably heard of the bay of fires. It is a stretch of about 50 km of coastline on the northeastern coast of Tasmania, characterised by huge orange coloured rocks contrasted with the bright blue water and white sand. Contrary to what you may automatically think, the region is not named due to the orange coloured rocks, but rather due to early explorers seeing the fires of the Aboriginal people along the beach.
The bay of fires was also identified by Lonely Planet as a must visit destination in 2009 and ever since has experienced an increase of tourists from all over the world as they come to see what makes this region so special. It is one of those places that for me I think made the experience so much better, is that it appears exactly as you anticipate from the images you see online and on Instagram. Actually it is better in real life as you experience the scale and the colours through your own eyes.
It is a place of true beauty, and one we must enjoy and respect to ensure it can be enjoyed by generations to come.
For your visit, I would recommend staying in St Helens. There are many accommodation options, however both times I have chosen to stay at the Big 4 Holiday Park in one of their self contained cabins. It is the best value for money I could find and with the ability to cook your own meals, it is a great option for budget travellers. I book all my accomodation through Booking.com, use this link to receive $25 off your first booking.
There is so much you can do from your base in St Helens (see my post on St Helens) so I would recommend staying around 3-4 days depending on how much you want to fit in. To experience the bay of fires in all its colourful glory, you have a few options.
Jump in your car and drive about 20 minutes to Binalong Bay. This place is spectacular and it is where you will enjoy just how beautiful the coast actually is. Your first stop should be the bay itself.
Somehow I missed the bay on my first visit here, instead heading straight for the iconic rocky landscape. Now that I have walked along this beach, I cannot believe how I skipped past it last time. I know it is a big call, but I think this may just be the most beautiful beach I have ever been to. Take a look at these photos and tell me you don’t agree!?
As I walked down the crisp white sand, listening to the soft waves crash in, the colour of the water reminded me of photos I have seen of the South Pacific or the Caribbean. It was something unexpected from Tasmania.
Keep in mind that my visit was in March, so for me swimming was not an option in that temperature. It was a maximum of 16 degrees, with perfect blue sunny skies, and the water was freezing. Perfect for beach walking/sitting, not so much for swimming. If you want to swim, stick to the summer months but keep in mind this is the busiest time to visit so you will be sharing this piece of paradise with many others.
I sat on the beach, just listening to the ocean, more relaxed that I had been for months. It was a place I never wanted to leave. But just around the corner, well there is more waiting to be amazed by.
From the beach to the main viewing area of the bay of fires, there is no real direct walkway. You can walk it, I did, but you do end up having to go around and back up to the road anyway. There are many car parks along the main road in Binalong Bay for each section so you may want to jump in your car and drive that little bit further to the lookout.
The lookout car park will give you a good base for exploring the area. For someone like me who loves climbing over and around rocks, it is like a playground. Climb to the top of giant boulders to get the best views, then climb back down to the water’s edge to watch the waves crash and marvel at how ridiculously clear the water is.
Depending on what month you are visiting, keep an eye out for passing whales or even get lucky and spot a dolphin or two. Take a seat, soak it up, and simply just enjoy the view.
Of course don’t forget to grab your Instagram moment with the Binalong Bay tree – a lone tree among the rocks that really just adds a little bit of interest to your photos, don’t you think?
Once you have had spent enough time in Binalong Bay, there is another vantage point worth checking out. Along the road between St Helens and Binalong Bay there is a turn towards The Gardens.
This road takes you down along the coast past many beach camping spots and other areas that I am yet to explore. The ocean opens up in front of you as you drive and the landscape flattens out. You know you are close when the road narrows to basically one lane and you feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere.
That is when the road ends and you find yourself in the car park for The Gardens viewing point. Much quieter than Binalong Bay, The Gardens gives you a fantastic view of the coast and more of those famous lichen covered rocks. The scale of the rocks here I have to say are beyond those at Binalong Bay – they are gigantic. Again I felt like a kid jumping and climbing over the rocks to get myself a better view point.
One thing I really wanted to do at the bay of fires was capture a sunset over the orange rocks. Really I should have been looking at doing sunrise here as it is on the east coast, however I am much too lazy to get out of bed that early, particularly when it is cold. So instead I took my chances that I could capture some colour at sunset.
I don’t know what it is about this part of the world, but the sunsets are particularly beautiful.
There is not much else around at The Gardens. Maybe bring a snack and just relax and explore, or do what we did and just sit and watch the sunset. Make sure to bring many jackets however, as when that sun goes down it is freezing!
I have not done a tour here, but I have looked at one that I am keen to do. Maybe next time.
Eco Tours will take you on a boat from Binalong Bay to explore the coast from the water. This is a unique vantage point and I would love to experience it this way. The bay of fires tour will take you all the way to Eddystone Point, the northernmost point of the bay of fires, to give you the full experience of the area.
For me, what I loved most about this area is just the natural beauty. This is why you visit Tasmania. The east coast opens you up to so many beautiful places which I will write about in more detail soon, but it really is a place that I keep wanting to come back to and stay a little longer.
Have you visited the bay of fires? What is the most beautiful beach you have visited? Let me know in the comments!