In case you needed any more convincing that the apple isle is the place to be this summer, we bring you part 2 of our top Tassie beach camps.
Cockle Creek, Southwest National Park
The ultimate spot for those who really want to get away from it all, Cockle Creek lies at the tip of Australia’s most southerly road, a scenic two-hour drive from Hobart. Beyond Geeveston, past Hastings Caves and along Recherche Bay’s sparsely populated shoreline, the beachfront camp at Boltons Green awaits, providing a gorgeous gateway to the wild lands of Southwest National Park.
An old cemetery is nearly all that remains of Cockle Creek’s old coalmine and whaling settlement, but a stroll to the landmark ‘big whale’ unravels history for visitors, while the trail to Fisher’s Point (2hrs return) leads to 1850s ruins.
With kayaks on board, we spent our afternoons paddling out into the bay and surfing the swell back up Cockle Creek watching white-bellied sea eagles gliding above. You can trek to South Cape Bay (15.4km, 4hrs return) on the legendary South Coast Track, or laze about watching pademelons graze.
Locations: Cockle Creek lies at the end of the road, 125km southwest of Hobart
Facilities: Toilets, picnic tables and rainwater tank (no generators allowed)
Fees: Free camping, but a National Park entry fee of $24/vehicle applies
Pets: Not allowed
MAYFIELD BAY COASTAL RESERVE
On the edge of Mayfield Bay where a white sand beach sweeps endlessly south, spacious, grassy camping nooks offer grand views across Great Oyster Bay. This shady, beachside location is a relaxed place to spend a few days with surprising facilities, laidback rules and lots to do.
Campfires and dogs on leads are permitted and you can hunker down for up to four weeks. What really intrigues – apart from the beautiful beach and great fishing – is what you’ll discover by walking south along the beach and doubling back up the creek to eyeball the 1845, convict-built Three Arch Bridge.
This marvelous structure is in stunning condition, named of course for its perfectly constructed trio of archways and rivaling another convict creation located close by, the 1840s Spiky Bridge, a curious creation and one of Tassie’s most distinctive.
Location: Signposted off the Tasman Highway, 15km south of Swansea
Facilities: Toilets, fireplaces and day-use picnic tables (bring drinking water and firewood)
Fees: By donation in the box on site
Pets: Allowed, on lead only
In the 17th and 18th Centuries, Bruny Island – traditionally known as ‘Lunnawannalonna’ – had a reputation amongst seafarers as a place of plenty with ample fresh water and food on tap. Today, travellers visit Bruny Island to hike the rugged, 200m-high dolerite cliffs and spot little penguins nesting on the long narrow isthmus between North and South Bruny Islands.
Over the sunny summer months, sailors rent small boats to cruise D’Entrecasteaux Channel, short-trailed shearwaters arrive to breed and raise chicks, and the gorgeous beaches and bustling cafes come alive. There are fascinating historical sites to explore (William Bligh planted the Apple Isle’s first apple tree on the shores of Adventure Bay), excellent bushwalking trails to Fluted Cape and Mount Cook, and fun 4WD tracks through Mount Midway Forest Reserve.
Of all the islands’ lovely camps, The Neck is a favourite; a super scenic spot to overnight, convenient for penguin watching and close to lots of attractions.
Location: Head 36km south of Hobart to Kettering and board the vehicular ferry to Bruny Island
Facilities: The Neck Campground provides wheelchair-accessible toilets, drinking water, picnic tables and fireplaces
Fees: $10/couple, $15/family
Pets: Not allowed
MOUNT WILLIAM NATIONAL PARK
Tassie’s popular East Coast circuit loops far south of this wild coastal sanctuary, leaving it for campers with more time on their hands. The big, beachfront campgrounds are shady and shared with pademelons and superb fairy wrens, and close by on the plains at dusk and dawn you’ll spot Forester kangaroos, echidnas, wombats and perhaps a Tassie devil, too.
An easy climb to Mt William’s 216m summit elevates you above an endless, white sand coastline, as pretty as any on the East Coast but almost guaranteeing you solitude. The beach fishing, boating and diving are superb on calm days and at the southern end of the park where Eddystone Point Lighthouse stands guard over Tasmania’s most easterly point, a boat ramp provides passage for travellers chasing catches of bream and Australian bass.
Location: Drive 17km from Gladstone to reach Stumpys Bay and Musselroe Bay. Detour south to Eddystone Lighthouse and Deep Creek campground, also accessible from Ansons Bay
Facilities: Six campgrounds provide picnic tables and toilets (bring drinking water and firewood)
Fees: $13/couple or $16/family payable on site. Long stays $50/week, payable at Gladstone’s General Store
Pets: Not allowed
LAGOONS BEACH CONSERVATION AREA
This simply stunning beach remains forever memorable as the place we encountered, for the fist time, a tiny pair of red capped plovers tending to two miniature, speckled eggs, their unlikely nest scraped into the sand. Higher on the dunes amongst thick tufts of spinifex, pied oystercatchers followed suit, luring away walkers who ventured too close to the nest’s hidden location.
These tiny, barely-visible nests were so very nearly underfoot that we spent our time at Lagoons Beach sticking to the wet sand, exploring 7km of beach and spotting tiny penguin tracks too.
Lagoons Beach is a huge free camping destination with plenty of shade, fireplaces and toilets. If the camp and its great salmon fishing keep you interested, you can stay for up to four weeks so bring plenty of drinking water and firewood.
Location: Signposted off the East Coast’s A3, 2km north of the St Mary’s turnoff
Facilities: Toilets and fireplaces (bring drinking water and firewood)
Fees: Free for four weeks
Pets: Allowed, on lead only – keep well away from shorebirds
Check out the full feature in issue #119 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.