Walking across the near perfect arc of polished white sand at Wineglass Bay during summer, I felt as if my eyeballs were being tortured under a salamander, the glare was that intense. Here I was on reputedly one of the whitest beaches in the world, in the nether regions in eastern Tasmania, where the sun can be unpredictably harsh. I’m not usually a sunglasses person, however today I wished I was.
Things weren’t all bad though. On one side, translucent blue water lapped against the soft, ivory-coloured sand, while on the other, the smell of eucalypt collided with the briny scent of the sea. There was plenty of loveliness between strides, all I had to do was keep looking either side for a while to avoid being blinded.
While it’s a notably white and bright part of the world, Wineglass Bay wasn’t always so. This stunningly beautiful place, which the UK’s Telegraph named as one of “the world’s ten best beaches for luxury travel”, earnt its name through being, during a fairly dark period of its history, blood red.
In the 1820s, the bay was a favoured spot for whalers. Here they would chase down our mammalian cousins, wedge thundering harpoons in their flesh, drag them back to shore, butcher them and boil down their blubber. Whale oil and whalebone were then extracted to produce such domestic comforts as corsets and lighting for the UK.
Of course, all this beachside industry produced quite a bit of mess, giving the perfectly curved bay the impression it was an enormous glass, stained with rich, red wine. Thankfully the whalers left after about 20 years, although the name Wineglass Bay remained.
Wineglass Bay is an adventure to get to, making it that bit more special. Park your car in nearby Coles Bay and tackle the two hour walk, which begins with a steep ascent to the pink, granite mountains called the Hazards. Named after an American whaler named Richard Hazard, these peaks, which loom over the northern part of bay, get their hue from orthoclase, a pink feldspar. The rest of the walk to the bay heads downhill through bushland.
Things to do
Myself and two friends camped the night in Wineglass Bay amongst the kangaroos and native flora, a short walk from the ocean. It’s an incredible spot to wake up to and is well worth spending the night. Contact the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service for accessibility and camping, which can change depending on the time of year.
From the campsite, I took a brisk morning walk up to the ridge that overlooks the bay further out to sea. Being gone a couple of hours, I returned just in time for breakfast. Sated, I took another stroll around the far side of the arc and explored the fringes of turquoise sea, gazing at the marine inhabitants of numerous crannies. While I just enjoyed walking, looking, listening and smelling, the area also offers excellent opportunities for snorkelling, fishing, sailing, kayaking and rock climbing.
Wineglass Bay is also a hit with honeymooners, having luxury accommodation nearby, while offering dazzlingly fresh crayfish, scallops, oysters and a range of renowned cool-climate wines. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a Tasmanian Devil (which are increasingly rare), a wombat, wallaby, quoll and/or the majestic white-bellied sea eagle, all which inhabit these parts.
- Wineglass Bay lies in the Freycinet National Park – Tasmania’s oldest national park – established in 1916.
- The Freycinet Peninsular has been home to the Pydairrerme people, otherwise known as the Oyster Bay tribe of Aborigines, for roughly 30,000 years.
- Wineglass Bay is located approximately 2.5 hours drive north of Hobart or south of Launceston.