Bicheno Blowhole and Rice Pebble Beach

Traversing Bicheno Blowhole
Bicheno Blowhole
Bicheno Blowhole © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Bicheno has two unique attractions within easy walk of one another: Bicheno Blowhole and Rice Pebble Beach. There are a few blowholes on Tasmania’s East Coast. The thing that makes Bicheno Blowhole exceptional is its surrounds. The rocks on the coastline near the Blowhole are covered with the distinctive, fiery lichen that is unique to the East Coast. This orange back-drop contrasts beautifully with the water spout. The marine environment around the Blow Hole is also fascinating. Take a look at the kelp off the side of the rocks. It’s enormous!

Bicheno Blowhole
Bicheno Blowhole © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There’s a lot to do at the Blowhole. You can look for sea life, hop on the rocks around the shoreline or even picnic on the table atop a nearby rock, if it’s available. It is a popular destination! Even in winter, there were plenty of people about. Perhaps the thing that you’ll spend most of your time doing though is listening for the whoomp of water rushing through rock as you try to time the perfect photograph. It sounds tedious, but it’s not! It’s an intriguing sound and a spectacular sight! Just be careful that you don’t wander into the splash zone or off the rock while you’re trying to get the perfect shot! And definitely don’t go out onto the rocks if the seas are stormy.

Rice Pebble Beach
Rice Pebble Beach © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

When you’re finished at the Blowhole, there’s still plenty more to do. Around the corner is Bicheno’s secret beach: Rice Pebble Beach. As the name suggests, it is covered in tiny pebbles instead of sand. I remember visiting the beach several times when I was a child. The feeling of the stones under your feet is heavenly yet torture!! You can paddle and swim at Rice Pebble Beach but you do need to take care as there are a lot of rocks under the surface. If swimming isn’t your thing, read a book, admire the scenery or climb the lichen-covered rocks.

Getting There

Bicheno Blowhole
Bicheno Blowhole © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

To get to Bicheno, see this post. Once you’re in Bicheno, you can reach Bicheno Blowhole and Rice Pebble Beach by car or by foot. You could walk along the foreshore track via The Gulch. If you’re driving, you can take a similar route or, from Burgess Street, turn onto Douglas Street. There is ample car parking space at the end of Douglas Street. To reach Rice Pebble Beach, follow a dirt track south from the car park. Once the track ends, continue walking on the grass until you see a track disappearing into the trees.

Cost

Lichen
Lichen © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is no cost to visit Bicheno Blowhole and Rice Pebble Beach. Save your pennies for fish and chips from The Gulch, a cuppa from one of the cafes or a penguin tour.

Read about more of my adventures on Tasmania’s East Coast here.

Bicheno

Traversing Bicheno
Diamond Island
Diamond Island © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Bicheno is a beautiful little town on Tasmania’s East Coast. I spent many a summer holiday in the town as a child. Within the town boundaries, you can shop for Tasmanian goodies, eat fresh seafood, have a decent coffee, swim, surf, dive, fish, climb to several vantage points, see Little Penguins, stand on the edge of a blowhole, or walk over a sandbar to an island. And that’s not an exhaustive list by any means! Bicheno packs a punch!

Waubs Bay
Waubs Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

My favourite thing to do in Bicheno is to swim. Although I am a true Tasmanian, it is winter and I don’t have a wetsuit, so we did my second favourite thing: walk. There are several tracks around Bicheno, including a lovely, albeit uneven, foreshore track. From the centre of Bicheno, you can walk to many different places.

Waubs Beach
Waubs Beach © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

It is very short walk to Waubs Beach, a small but gorgeous place. In summer, this is where the surf lifesaving club operates. This weekend, we saw people on paddleboards, in kayaks and even going for a swim (in wetsuits, of course!). Bicheno is famous for its annual ocean swim. Australia’s famous Olympic swimmer, Shane Gould, heads up a swimming group and it may have been just this group that we spotted! The day before we arrived, whales were seen swimming nearby too. Whales are regularly seen offshore from July to November.

Wauba Debar's Grave
Wauba Debar’s Grave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

On the shore, you’ll find a memorial to the Merchant Navy and the grave of the bay’s namesake. This is one of the most important graves in Tasmania as it once held the remains of Wauba Debar, a Tasmanian Aboriginal lady who won the hearts of locals at a time where racism and sexism were at their worst. Shamefully, her remains were removed for scientific study in the late 1800s but she is still remembered here with her original grave site and stone.

The Gulch
The Gulch © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Further south along the coast, you’ll find The Gulch. This is a small waterway and wharf protected from the elements by two Islands. On the other side of the islands lies the Governor Island Marine Reserve. This is one of the world’s best temperate dive locations, with over fifteen species inhabiting the small area. Seals can sometimes even be seen on nearby Alligator Rock. For a fantastic view of The Gulch, head to Whaler’s Lookout.

Bicheno
Bicheno © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The track to Whaler’s Lookout starts from Foster Street and is well signposted. We found a track winding up from the end of James Street but it is not for the faint hearted! At the top of the hill, you’ll find two lookouts. Whaler’s Lookout looks over the township and is so named because Bicheno was originally a whaling town. You can read about this awful yet fascinating history on the information board at the lookout. From Whaler’s Lookout, keep walking on the loop track and you’ll find another lookout, this time over The Gulch. It’s a lovely view!

A short walk south, either via the streets or the foreshore track, is the Blow Hole and Rice Pebble Beach, which you can read about here. A longer walk North along the foreshore track is the surf beach, Red Bill, and the town’s most famous attraction: Diamond Island. The island is famous for its penguin colony and its accessibility via a sandbar. You can read about my visit to Diamond Island here.

Getting There

Bicheno
Bicheno © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Bicheno is on Tasmania’s East Coast. It is about ten minutes’ drive north of Freycinet and one hour’s drive south of St Helens. From Hobart, it will take you approximately two and a half hours via the Tasman Highway. Bicheno is just over two hours’ drive from Launceston via Campbell Town or St Mary’s. You can also take the longer route via St Helens and Bay of Fires. Wherever you’re driving from, add on an extra hour or two for stops. Its the East Coast. You see something you really want to stop for approximately every ten minutes.

Cost

Red Bill Beach © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Understandably, the cost of accommodation is much less in the off-season (over winter). That said, there truly is something for everyone, ranging from tent sites to caravans to luxury B&Bs. As far as attractions go, you can spend the big bucks on scenic flights and cruises in nearby Freycinet or you can do what we did and just walk around Bicheno. It is such a fascinating and beautiful place!

Diamond Island
Diamond Island © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is much more that I could write about Bicheno. We bought veggies from a local market, had a delicious piece of gluten and dairy free slice from The Farm Shed – East Coast Wine Centre and hope to return soon so that we can do the many things that we missed out on this time. Next time you head to the East Coast, don’t forget to visit the small but brilliant town of Bicheno.

You can read more about my adventures on Tasmania’s East Coast here.

Diamond Island

Traversing Diamond Island
Diamond Island
Diamond Island © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

When I was a child visiting Bicheno, one of the most special things we did was walk out to Diamond Island. This was a real treat because walking over a sandbar is fun and because, back then, even when the tide was low you tended to get wet. After a recent storm, the sandbar is now much bigger (or at least, it seems so to me!). I was a little bit worried that we wouldn’t make it to the island as low tide occurred at 5am. We arrived at Red Bill Beach at about 8:30am and found a wide, dry strip of sand to walk on. What a treat!

Swift Parrots
Swift Parrots © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Diamond Island is a very special place because you can walk out to it. Also, it is basically a giant Little Penguin rookery. You can find the rare, small Swift Parrot here (we saw a pair!). The island has the fiery lichen-covered rocks that are unique to the East Coast and it has large, beautiful rock pools. You might even see a pair of pelicans like we did. As you can see, it would be shorter to make a list of reasons NOT to visit Diamond Island.

Sand Bar
Sand Bar © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

One reason not to visit Diamond Island is if you don’t think that you can make it back across. You do NOT want to be stuck on the island for 12 hours. It will get dark and cold and the penguins would rather be left alone. Another reason not to visit Diamond Island is if you have your dog with you. They are not allowed in the reserve.

Penguin Rookery
Penguin Rookery © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

As the island is a penguin rookery, there are no paths (except those made by the penguins). Do not step on the greenery! You don’t want to be responsible for a penguin home invasion. To be sure that you’re not treading somewhere that you shouldn’t, stay on the rocks. Traversing the island will take a little bit of thinking and leaping this way. It’s quite fun!

Getting There

Pelicans
Pelicans © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

For information on Bicheno and how to get there, read this post. Once you’re in Bicheno, walk or drive to Red Bill beach, the surf beach near Diamond Island. It’s about a ten-minute walk (at a reasonable pace) from the car park and along the beach to Diamond Island. When planning your visit, check the tide times and make sure that you leave plenty of time to get back off the island on the same tide.

Cost

View of Bicheno
View of Bicheno © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Unless you are fined for walking on the penguin rookery, there is no cost to visit Diamond Island. Remember to stay on the rocks and take any rubbish with you. The views of and from Diamond Island are beautiful. Take your camera and a sense of adventure and you’ll have a great time.

Read more of my adventures on Tasmania’s East Coast here.

Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm

Traversing Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm
Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm
Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is a small oasis on the highway between Launceston and Devonport. Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm is a restaurant, venue for special occasions and a retreat from the nearby highway. If you don’t have time for a proper stop, you should at least purchase some chocolate-coated raspberries. Bite through the chocolate for a tangy raspberry hit that is far superior to the lolly version of this treat. Buy the bigger container. As my husband says, “that should last us for the rest of the journey”. He’s joking, but his time frame isn’t out by much!

The Lake
The Lake © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

My favourite thing about Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm is the lake. Surrounded by beautiful, old trees and filled with lilies, it is serene. The owners have created bridges and a newly renovated path so that you can stretch your legs for a short walk around the pond. The path used to be a bit bumpy but is now smoother if you’re a bit unsteady on your feet. There are plenty of places to sit and drink in the view and there are even two alpacas to say hello to! The path leads you past the raspberries but, as the farm is a commercial operation, you cannot enter this area.

Raspberry Sorbet
Raspberry Sorbet © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

My second favourite thing is the food. One thing can be said about the staff at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm: They love experimenting with raspberries! While some past experiments haven’t been so successful, they seem to be hitting the nail on the head consistently now. My favourites are the raspberry fizz drink, the raspberry sorbet dessert and the hot raspberry drink (which you can even order with soy or almond milk!). If you need more than just dessert and drinks, there are breakfast and lunch options too, many of which include raspberries. There are also options for people with dietary requirements.

Farm Shop
Farm Shop © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm is a popular place. We arrived at about 12:30pm today (Sunday, off-peak tourist season) and were lucky to be seated at a table inside. I would suggest that you book ahead if you would like to have lunch at the farm on a weekend as this gem is no secret to locals! If you haven’t booked or if you’re in a rush, you can buy fresh raspberries, frozen raspberries, chocolate-coated raspberries and just about any raspberry concoction you can imagine and take it with you. Raspberry scented socks, anyone?

Getting There

Raspberries
Raspberries © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You can find Christmas Hills just north of Deloraine (and just south of Elizabeth Town) between Devonport and Launceston on the Bass Highway. The farm is about 40 minutes north of Launceston and 30 minutes south of Devonport. Reliability is important when you run a business on a highway; Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm achieves this with excellent opening hours. You can visit the farm seven days a week from 7am – 5pm, excluding Good Friday and Christmas Day.

Cost

Alpacas
Alpacas © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

It won’t cost you anything to walk around the lake (this takes about five minutes). It is worth also purchasing a large tub of chocolate-coated raspberries (for approximately $16) and a drink. Most drinks and meals come in two sizes (small and regular) which means that you can be a bit savvy cash-wise if you would like to. Basically, you can spend as much or as little as you like. Make a purchase and you’ll even be able to taste a chocolate-coated raspberry for free! That will cost you though, as you’ll then need to purchase more… Enjoy your visit!

Heading south from Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm? To read more about my journeys in northern Tasmania, click here. Heading north? For other posts about Tasmania’s north-west, click here.

Corinna

Traversing Corinna
Corinna
Corinna © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Who wouldn’t want to stay the night in a ghost town? How about one on the edge of the takayna/Tarkine? What if you could then spend the day traversing ancient rivers, forests and mountains and the evening snuggled up next to a gas heater in a pioneer-style hut? Welcome to Corinna, an ex-mining town on the north bank of the Pieman River on Tasmania’s wild West Coast.

Tarkine Hotel
Tarkine Hotel © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Corinna was established during the gold rush of the late 1800s. Here, 2500 people lived and a 7.5kg gold nugget was discovered. This is still the largest gold nugget found in Tasmania. The town had a substantial two-storey pub, which was later dismantled and moved to the south side of the river before being moved to Zeehan and, unfortunately, burnt down. The area was also logged and the wood taken back to England for use as banisters, masts, and so on. Prior to this, the Tarkiner people (hence the name Tarkine) lived here. There are still giant middens on the coast: remnants of their lives and sacred sites.

Pademelon
Pademelon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

All of the huts at Corinna (some original and some recently constructed) bear the name of a person associated with the town’s history. We stayed in Louise Lovely, named after the lady who produced and starred in the film Jewelled Nights shot partially on Tasmania’s West Coast. The town now has no permanent residents, except for a Tasmanian Devil (in the car park) and a large number of friendly pademelons.

Short Walks
Short Walks © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There are plenty of things to do at Corinna. You could easily spend three full days here. I recommend planning your trip around a cruise on the Arcadia II (a longer cruise to the Pieman Heads, which you can read about here) and the Sweetwater (an hour-long cruise to the wreck of the Croydon and to Lovers Falls, which you can read about here). You could do this during a day if you can manage to book a spot on both cruises. Your other two days could be spent walking, or even kayaking. It is possible to walk from Corinna to the summit of Mount Donaldson (yes, we did that too!) or you can take a series of shorter walks around Corinna. Kayaks are available for hire from the Tarkine Hotel.

What to Bring

Kayaks at the Savage River
Kayaks at the Savage River © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is untreated rainwater available at Corinna. You will also find complimentary bottled water in your fridge. I wish that I had brought my 20L drum of water with me though as the rain water tastes quite thick (that’s my best description!), even after you’ve boiled it for the required three minutes to treat it. I also wish that I had brought some insect repellent and eucalyptus spray (my preferred insect spray) as we were kept awake by mosquitoes on the second night. Even writing this is making me feel itchy!!

Replica Huts
Replica Huts © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You should also bring food. The Tarkine Hotel serves lunch and dinner (not in winter) but you do pay middle-of-nowhere prices. They can cater for dietary requirements if you book in advance. There are a few (mainly tinned) food supplies available at the “General Store” part of the Tarkine Hotel. However, you will need to provide breakfast and snacks for yourself. I’d also recommend bringing some food for bushwalking. We cooked a meal – a pasta dish – on the four-burner cook-top in our hut and enjoyed staying in to a homely meal. There are ample pans and utensils provided.

Last of all, bring warmth and a good book. You’ll have no mobile reception, so snuggle up in your slippers and travel rug and read. There are some coffee-table books on the takayna/Tarkine and Tasmania supplied. When you’re outdoors, having good shoes, waterproof clothing and appropriate layers is a must. Remember sun protection in summer and don’t forget your camera. The wilderness is breathtaking!

Getting There

Fatman Barge
Fatman Barge © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You can reach Corinna from several directions. Drive south from the North-West tip of Tasmania, following the unsealed Western Explorer. Alternatively, travel north from Zeehan, crossing the Pieman River via the Fatman Barge ($25 per voyage). This is an excellent way to travel as the barge is cable-driven, the only one of its kind in Tasmanian. Take note of operating hours though: 9am – 5pm during non-daylight savings hours, with hours extended to 7pm during summer.  Lastly, you could drive south from Burnie, via Waratah. This is a sealed road until you reach Savage River. From here, it’s 21kms of unsealed roads until you reach Corinna. Make sure that you fill up with petrol before you make the journey as there is no fuel available in Corinna.

Cost

Accommodation
Accommodation © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Accommodation in one of the recently constructed pioneer-style huts costs $220 per couple per night night. There are bigger huts available and also cheaper options: groups can stay in the original pub and couples can stay in the original Roadman’s Cottage. If you’re really pinching pennies (and it’s not too cold or wet), you can even camp at Corinna. Whatever option you choose, make sure that you book in advance. I happily paid for the luxury of having all the mod cons (an ensuite, lighting, a four-burner gas cook top and a lovely log-style gas heater) in the middle of nowhere. Corinna runs on solar power and a satellite phone link so enjoy your time in blissful isolation!

You can read more about my time in Corinna here. You can also read about my adventures on Tasmania’s West Coast here or North West here.

Sweetwater

Traversing Sweetwater
Stairs
Stairs © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is a wooden staircase on the edge of the Pieman River, accessible only via a kayak or small boat. You’ll pass it on your journey on the Arcadia II and you’ll want to climb it. Well, you can do just that if you board the Sweetwater!

Sweetwater
Sweetwater © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

From the dock at Corinna, climb aboard the blue boat with cushioned seats. Sit at the back, near the outboard motor. It’s noisier there, but you won’t have as much spray to contend with. Your guide will give you a brief history of the river (which is now much lower than it used to be… as in, many metres lower). You’ll also learn about the local flora. Our guide backed the boat up to the leatherwood so that we could see and smell the flowers closeup. Unbelievably, I didn’t know before my journey to Corinna that Huon Pine trees have male and female varieties, with distinct appearances. According to our guide, the male is ugly and the female looks like a gorgeous Christmas tree!

Wreck of the SS Croydon
Wreck of the SS Croydon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Eventually, you’ll reach the Savage River. The Arcadia II cruise goes past this river but the extra treat of the Sweetwater is that you are in a boat that’s small enough to enter the river and glide over the wreck of the SS Croydon. We visited the site at high tide on a rainy afternoon so we couldn’t see much. However, what we could see was impressive: the twisted metal hull of a British steamer lying where it sank on 13th May 1919. The ship was supposed to take logs back to England but it never made it.

Lovers Falls
Lovers Falls © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

After viewing the wreck, you’ll travel downriver to the beautiful Lover’s Falls. This is the real highlight of the voyage: You get to walk off the back of the boat, up a set of stairs accessibly only by small watercraft, and walk on to view Lover’s Falls. The small falls that you can see from the Pieman River are nothing compared to the plunging falls that you see after a brief five minutes’ walk through the rainforest.

The walk to the falls is via duckboard covered in chicken-wire (so that you don’t slip). There are a few flights of stairs to climb but your guide is in no hurry so you can feel free to take your time. On the way, admire the large man-ferns and the towering myrtle. Once you’re at the top viewing platform, you’ll see the spectacular falls. Take note of the caves behind you.

What to bring

Cave
Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll need warm clothes, sensible shoes, a spray jacket (for if you have no choice but to sit at the front of the boat) and your camera. It’s a short journey, so even if you get a bit wet or cold, it won’t be long until you’re back in the warmth of your hut or the Tarkine Hotel.

Getting There

Rainforest
Rainforest © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Sweetwater cruises need to be booked in advance as they don’t occur every day. This is particularly true in winter. Once you’ve booked your cruise, follow my instructions for getting to Corinna from my post here. When you reach Corinna, head down to the docks (straight ahead, near the Tarkine Hotel) and hop onto the blue boat when prompted to by your friendly guide.

Cost

Myrtle
Myrtle © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

To book tickets, contact Corinna Wilderness Experience. There are only nine places available on the cruise so you’ll need to get in early during the peak tourist season. A cruise on the Sweetwater costs $30 per person. For such a unique experience in such a remote place, it is worth every dollar.

You can read more about my time in Corinna here. You can also read about my adventures on Tasmania’s West Coast here or North West here.