Stumpys Bay to Forester Beach Camp
Bay of Fires Lodge Walk
The Hike - We hadn't even left the great state of Tasmania on our last trip there to do the Three Capes Lodge Walk before Candy and Hal were proposing another hiking trip. This time they had their sights set on another of the coastal walks that Tas Walking Co offer, the Bay of Fires. After we such a great time had on the Three Capes and with an opportunity to come back to such an amazing hiking destination we said yes and a booking was made for the Easter weekend the following year. Having only just recently finished writing up the last of my posts from that trip, it doesn't feel like a lot of time has passed since that visit but those five months have flown by. Flying into Launceston ahead of the trip we enjoyed checking out the second largest city in Tasmania with a couple of days of exploration and a trip out to Cataract Gorge. After a quick breakfast on Easter Sunday at the hotel we were picked up in the bus and taken to Quamby Estate, the base of operation for Tassie Walking Co via another country estate where we would pick up the rest of the touring party.
Everyone was very quiet on the bus but over the next four days we would all get to know each other as we hiked (and kayaked) over some of the most beautiful coastal terrain in Tasmania. With a maximum group of 10 people it was going to be easier to remember everyone's names given our party made up 40% of the group and there was a lot more diversity on this trip. Our group of 10 was made up of a family of four from Sydney (Christian, Lindy, Charlie and Tom) and a professional couple also from Sydney (Amy and Gordon). Arriving at Quamby Estate, we met our guides for the trip, Joel and Jessie, and they ran through what the plan was as we packed all our gear into the backpacks provided. With a half day of walking to get through and a bit of a drive to reach the coast we set off with much more conversation flowing thanks to Joel and Jessie. With a long drive we made a couple of stops including the lookout at Sideling where we marvelled at the views of the countryside and Mount Scott in the distance. The other stop was just out of the way at a town called Legerwood that is famous for some public art that has a very interesting backstory involving WWI, pine trees and timber sculptures (I'll leave it untold if you plan to do this trip yourself).
On the way to the start point Joel pulled out the old "get to know you" game where you had to say a few things about yourself. One of the categories he chose was tell everyone your secret superpower so I let everyone know that they would be unlikely to see any special wildlife while I was around (more on this later) as I have had the worst luck over the years (only just saw my first echidna last year). After a drive through the outskirts of Mount William National Park we arrived at the start point for our four day journey along the famous beaches of the Bay of Fires. There are a number of public campsites along the coast here that you can drive in and stay at and the start of our journey was at the one they call Stumpys. At the time of our arrival there was a mist that was hanging around, something you don't always see on the Bay of Fires tour according to Joel who has been guiding here for almost a decade. With all our gear off the bus we took a group photo and then set off along the beach for the first of many kilometres on the white sandy shores of Eastern Tasmania. The beaches here are the highly desirable white colour that comes from the breaking down of the granite rock that forms the base of most of the coastline along north eastern Tasmania.
The rules for the hike were pretty simple, a) you can go at whatever pace you like so long as you are no further than 200-300m away from the main group, b) no cutting across the sandy headlands to avoid stepping on birds eggs and c) to have an enjoyable time. With that in mind we enjoyed the first part of the morning with compact sand making for relatively easy walking. One issues that people would comment on during the trip was the weird angle you were always walking on due to the incline of the beach towards the water. It wasn't too uncomfortable but every now and then you'd get a tweak of an ankle stepping but it's really hard to avoid this on beach sections so you just accept it. The starting section is a series of beaches connected by rocky headlands so the view is pretty much the same as you trundle along (and what a view it is) so your gaze wanders from the waves breaking to the distant headland to the items located in the seaweed. Caris is a big fan of collecting sea glass back home so enjoys seeing what she can find on every beach we visit. Although there would be no sea glass today there was an interesting variety of bull kelp, washed up shells, dried sea urchins and lots of different seaweed.
Eventually we reached our first rocky headland and a chance to see the famous Bay of Fires orange rock staining that the area is most noted for. The Bay of Fires is not named because of the orange lichen that grows on these granite rocks (as many state it is) but from the numerous fires that were burning when Captain Tobias Furneaux first reached this area in 1773 (more on this later). While admiring the orange boulders and picking our way through the rocks Jessie found an empty Gummy Shark egg casing and passed it around the group for everyone to look at. It reminded Caris of the Port Jackson Shark egg casings you find in WA except without the corkscrew shape and it was a cool find early on the first day. A small section of beach led to another rocky headland and here we could see a colony of birds on a boulder offshore, something that would be familiar on the first two days. Given the late start we stopped pretty early for lunch at the site of one of the aboriginal middens that are the reason for the Bay of Fires name. The fires were from the many middens along the coast where families and groups would gather in the evening to share their daily hunting/gathering bounty and socialise. They are slightly inland to escape the elements and noticeable because of the large collection of shells and blackened earth from a lot of generations of use.