BAY OF FIRES Walk, Tasmania – February 2016
I recently had a wonderful mini-break in Tasmania doing the Bay of Fires hike with a group of friends. One of our group is an experienced hiker, others had some experience and others none at all. A reasonable level of fitness is all that is required.
We flew into Launceston on a Friday and stayed at the Sebel Hotel, a nice 4* Hotel with both apartments and studios.
The hike is run by the Tasmanian Walking Company and operates every day with a maximum group of 10.
We were taken to their HQ at the Quamby Estate Winery where we packed for our hike, met our guides and received instructions. Backpacks and a raincoat are provided for your use during the hike. The guides were very helpful with our packing and we all ended up with 8kg packs. You only carry your personal items and your packed lunch, which is provided.
It was then a 2 hour drive into the Mt William National Park. We started hiking along a beautiful stretch of beach.
Most of the walking on this hike is on the beach, which is the most challenging aspect. The first day we walked 10km, with a stop for lunch and afternoon tea. The guides boil a Billy for tea and provide chocolate and cookies. All groups have two guides. Our guides Shelley and Sarah were both friendly, professional, knowledgeable and fun. At about 5pm we reached the Forresters Beach Camp where we spent the first night.
Forresters Beach Camp is a permanent camp. The twin share tents have wooden floors and beds with a foam mattress. Sleeping bags are provided at the camp and we had previously been given a sleeping sheet and pillow case. There is a mess tent where we ate. The communal toilets are pit toilets, but spotlessly clean. There is a bush shower, but we all went for a swim instead. The guides cooked a wonderful dinner of barbecued salmon with soba noodle salad, followed by chocolate mousse. Wine and beer are provided. (One of our group was coeliac and appropriate meals were provided)
The next morning after breakfast of pancakes and fruit, we packed our lunch from a plentiful buffet and headed off. The second day we walked 14km, but we had all day to do it. The walk was more varied with some inland tracks as well as beach walking. We were blessed with beautiful weather on the first 2 days, so some of our group had a swim at lunchtime. The guides will cater for each group’s needs and make as many stops as required.
At about 4pm we reached the Bay of Fires Lodge, our home for 2 nights. The Lodge beach is a lovely protected cove and the Lodge is on the top of a hill which felt bigger than it was on our tired legs. Once at the Lodge, we were shown to our rooms, and given a foot spa on the balcony and a glass of wine and a cheese platter. The rooms at the lodge are simple, but very clean with comfortable beds and linen. The Lodge fits in well with the surrounding National Park. The showers and toilets are communal, but again, very clean and the water was hot.
After a shower we had dinner with the other guests. The lodge can accommodate 20 people and everyone stays 2 nights, so a new group of 10 arrived each day. There are two permanent staff members at the lodge and the hiking guides also help out. The food was fantastic, two course dinners with wine and beer included. After dinner the time was our own for campfire games, charades or just an early night. The Lodge also has a small library and a couple of musical instruments.
On day 3 there is no walking so we went on a kayaking trip instead. After some instructions we paired up and kayaked down the Anson River. It was calm and beautiful and a very peaceful way to spend the morning. After this activity we had our lunch on the river bank and then drove back to the lodge for an afternoon at leisure. The Lodge has a spa, so massages were definitely on the menu. They also offer other treatments, including an outdoor bath overlooking the countryside. At dinner we met the new group of people who had just arrived.
On the final day the morning is free to spend at your leisure. There are some walking tracks around the lodge or you can utilise the spa, swim in the beach or just laze around with a good book. At around midday, we walked an easy 4km, and then stopped for lunch. Our bus then picked us up and drove to the Apogee Winery where we had a short lesson in Methode Champenoise. Then it was back to the Sebel in Launceston.
The main topic of conversation at dinner that night was where we would hike next year. We all enjoyed it so much that it was a forgone conclusion that this would become an annual event. We are currently considering the Arkaba Track in the Flinders Ranges or the Routeburn Track, New Zealand.
Some short breaks and holidays are just for relaxing, but sometimes it is also good to set out to achieve something. This was not a hardcore hike, but we all felt a degree of satisfaction at the end. I think that many people would enjoy this type of trip as much as I did. The organisation, guides, catering and accommodation were all excellent.