Saturday, March 21, 2015

The East Coast - Tasmania - Part Two - Swanwick, Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park

The coastal town of Swanwick is just ten minutes drive from the better known east coast town of Coles Bay. From Coles Bay it is a short drive to the entrance of the Freycinet National Park, where you'll find the world renowned and most popular East Coast tourist destination, Wineglass Bay. 
Swanwick was a gorgeous place to plant ourselves for ten days. We had rented a spacious, weatherboard cottage, complete with a winding bush track, starting from our back garden gate and finishing on the shores of Sandpiper beach. A daily walk to the beach in the early morning or late afternoon for a swim, was not to be missed. From Sandpiper beach you could walk the flat, sandy coastline or swim in the pristine waters, whilst drinking in the magnificence of the Hazards mountain range looming in the distance. This was quite special, one of those 'pinch yourself' moments, marvelling that anything could be so accessible and so incredibly beautiful and that we were here experiencing it.
At Swanwick, the pace of life slowed down considerably for us. Together for ten days of family time, with no need to put up or pack down the tent, we relished the freedom to walk, swim, fish, rest, read, wander and explore our surrounds. Delights such as discovering hundreds of soldier crabs at Moulting Lagoon, daring to appear on the surface at low tide and seeing clusters of rocks on the waters edge, covered with Tasmanian blue mussels ripe for harvest, had us mesmerised. It was at Swanwick, using those brave soldiers crabs as fresh bait, that mr G happily line caught many, many black bream, including the biggest one he has ever bagged, being a whopping 42cm. He was so content!
Not far from our holiday cottage, at the base of the Hazard mountains was 'the shack' belonging to our new friend, the farmer and Maggie. Conveniently the farmer had a fishing boat, cray pots and a liking for flathead, needless to say mr G was very interested. We had a wonderful couple of days sharing food and conversation together. A taste of freshly caught and perfectly cooked cray, a pot of mussels harvested from the rocks below, cooked in tomato, garlic and white wine and a summer barbecue of lamb, enjoyed around the old red wooden table, that I am sure could tell a thousand tales. 
An early morning outing on the boat for the farmer and mr G meant catching more flathead in two hours, than we caught on our whole road trip. This was followed by the farmer cooking up a feast of battered flathead for a late breakfast. We returned the favour a couple of days later with a bag of bream for them all to share. 
We ventured to Freycinet National Park to walk the Wineglass Bay/Hazards circuit. It was a four hour bush walk, taking in a visit to the Wineglass Bay lookout, a picnic lunch on the beach and an icy cold swim in the aqua waters of Wineglass Bay. You just cannot travel all that distance, to arrive at one of the most spectacular bays in the world and not dive in - it was freezing! 
We defrosted, redressed and continued on walking through expansive wetlands, then climbed our way back to the coast and down to the white sands of Hazards beach. We enjoyed the long walk along the beach, then passing through a stunning forest of dead wood trees, we continued along the coast on a rocky path at the waters edge, taking in spectacular 180 degree views of Coles Bay and beyond. 
(One essential piece of advice, if you do plan to do this circuit walk - the final two hours can be quite tiring, being that you are fully exposed to the elements, be it the afternoon sunshine or pouring rain - so make sure you carry plenty of drinking water with you.)
On the only rainy day we had in our time at Swanwick, we took a leisurely drive to the nearby seaside town of Bicheno, known for its fleet of fishing boats and red and orange lichen covered rocks. Bicheno is a very pretty place even on a rainy day and offers a lovely village of shops with a local butcher, baker, supermarket, post office and a variety of cafes and restaurants, it is the biggest town on this stretch of the east coast.
Whether it be the stunning scenery, the size of the bream caught, the wandering walks or the refreshing swims at the foot of the mountains. Maybe it was the licking of our fingers after eating a pot of succulent mussels, that had been caught just hours before or the cherished memories made together as a family on holidays. No doubt the soothing sight of the sun sinking below the horizon each afternoon had captivated us and precious times shared with like minded friends will be treasured. For all these reasons and many more, the little east coast town of Swanwick has stole our hearts and left a mark that makes me smile when I think of those lazy summer days.    


Elizabeth said...

Seriously Jane, do you ever pinch yourself and wonder how you got this amazing life! I love your post and recipes... I can't wait to se what is next!
Liz xx

Jane Grover said...

Hey Liz x just about daily I am thankful that my passions and my work combine so well to allow me to have such a life xx thanks for being so enthusiastic in following our journey via the blog - hope the recipes work well for you x Happiest Easter x Jane