The Bay of Fires

I would like to give the Bay of Fires two awards, one for being one of the best place names ever, and the other for being one of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen. But it’s not really a single place — stretching out over more than fifty kilometers of the northeastern Tasmania coast, the Bay of Fires is a collection of over forty white sand beaches…

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… vivid red rocks …

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… and aquamarine waters.

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What makes these granite boulders so orangey-red?

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Some serious Internet research (no kidding — I’ve just skimmed a paper titled The Lichen Family Hymeneliaceae in Tasmania, With the Description of a New Species) suggests that the rocks are covered with lichen that have an orange thallus, which is the vegetative part of the organism:

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But according to Wikipedia — and to my disappointment — the brightly-colored rocks have nothing to do with the name “Bay of Fires.” That monniker was assigned to this stretch of coastline by British Captain Tobias Furneaux as he sailed on the HMS Adventure (on Captain James Cook’s second exploratory expedition) in 1773 and saw the fires of the Aboriginal people on the beaches.

Aside from the evident beauty of the lichen set against such spectacular water, what I really appreciate about the Bay of Fires if that if you don’t like one beach, you can just make your way to another. You’ll probably start out in Binalong Bay, where you might choose the amenities and crowds of Binalong Bay beach itself …

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… clamber over the rocks to the tiny, nearly empty beach just to the northeast …

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… or get in your car and drive down Dora Point Road to any number of entirely secluded spots.

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Before you leave the the Binalong Bay area, make sure to stop at Lichen Restaurant & Cafe for their rocket salad with spinach, feta, broccolini, pumpkin, quinoa — it’s excellent.

For further beach experiences, go back up the road and then head north on Gardens Road. You can then turn down Lyall Road, park at the bottom, and walk along the beach to your left …

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… to a truly impressive array of rocks:

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This is a place that you can easily sit with a book (or scramble over rocks, if that’s more your speed) and while away several hours .

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You’ll find the most dramatic road scenery if you continue north from here on Gardens Road.

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We stopped to visit this beach — name unknown — because it looked so utterly perfect. Prescott took a nap in some precious shade…

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… while I combed the beach for kelp …

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… played in the waves …

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… and assigned characters to the rocks at the ocean’s edge (this one is a horse):

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If you prefer your beaches longer and emptier, you might want to head to the southern end of Taylors Beach, just opposite Sloop Lagoon. Here you’ll find an endlessly long stretch of sand — so long that I couldn’t see the other end — and if you’re willing to walk, you can have a whole section of it all to yourself.

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There are more stunning rocks at the end of the beach …

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… which we hoped might shelter us from the afternoon wind, but to no avail!

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If you do head out on Gardens Road to explore these more remote beaches, the maps app in your phone might not be as precise as you’d like, so this one might come in handy. Also, note that there are no facilities beyond Binalong Bay. So bring your own snacks, and enjoy!

Finally, if you’re staying south of St. Helen’s, you can get reasonably good meal at Fearless Freddy Cafe in Scamander. Make sure to save room for dessert — the star of the show is the smashed hazelnut meringue with fresh local berries and cream:

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2 responses to “The Bay of Fires

  1. Pingback: Road Trip: The Great Eastern Drive to Launceston | Traveler Tina·

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