Australia – Explore the magic rocks, rockpools and beaches in Tasmania

What’s the hurry? Change down to island time — or lose track of time altogether. Tasmania’s rocks, rockpools and beaches set the scene for slow summer travel.

Take time-out on the Tasmanian shore: smell the seaweed and salty air; rub the coarse sand between your fingers; tune-in to the rhythm of breaking waves. From wild ocean frontiers to lichen-dappled boulders, gemstones in the sand and flecks of rockpool gold, Tasmania’s coastlines tell some ripping yarns. Some of the rocks here were once attached to North America and are more than 1.33 billion years old. Put your ‘to do’ list in your pocket: tomorrow’s pressures are no match for yesterday’s treasures.

Rockpool Zen

Tasmania’s rockpools are microcosms of our Earthly existence, with all of life’s dramas played out on a small stage. Take a break from the day-to-day and tinker around amongst the starfish, crabs and little shells, surviving and thriving as the tide flows around them. Or just splash around in the summer air.

On the north-east coast in the larapuna area, the Bay of Fires gets plenty of Insta-love. But forget about muscle shots and swimsuit snaps: there’s enough room along this 50km coastline to find a private rockpool to dunk yourself in, far from social scrutiny. Take a likin’ to the lichen on a big granite boulder as you dry off in the sea breeze.

On the photogenic north-west coast near Wynyard, find fossils in the rockpools at Fossil Bluff, or find your fortune at Doctors Rocks. Local legend has it that there’s a lost gold reef somewhere offshore here, and nuggets do occasionally wash in on the waves. Discuss your metal-detector options at Coastal Pods Wynyard ‘up-cycled’ shipping-container accommodation on the banks of the Inglis River.

At Killiecrankie Bay on Flinders Island, fossick for Killiecrankie Diamonds — ice-clear and pink-gold chucks of topaz, smoky quartz, zircon and beryl — awash in the rockpools at low tide. Some say that topaz crystals have the power to calm, heal and rejuvenate … which might be just what you’re looking for. Ponder your findings overnight at Killiecrankie Bay Camping Ground.

Rock stars

Of course, Tasmania’s rockpools require some accompanying geology to make the magic happen — granite boulders, fossil-filled cliffs and fragmented sandstone terraces, many millions of years old. Timeless palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) stories also play out in these rockscapes: middens, carvings and caves that are sacred reminders of the unbroken palawa connection to Country.

In the south east, Tessellated Pavement at Teralina / Eaglehawk Neck is one of many kooky geological rock formations on Turrakana / Tasman Peninsula (blowholes, arches, cliffs, sea caves …). The tide surges across this scarified stone flatland, decorating it with shells, driftwood and sea life.

In between Blackmans Bay and the agreeably named Tinderbox just south of Hobart, wander down to the shore and discover fossilised evidence of 250-million-year-old life at the Fossil Cove Conservation Area. Stay a while (perhaps not millennia) at Blackmans Bay Coastal Retreat or Tinderbox Escape on the clifftops.

Heading into the north west, two flat-top basalt plateaus — the Nut at Stanley and Table Cape near Wynyard — jag into Bass Strait like giant car ferries setting sail for the mainland. In between is Rocky Cape National Park, layered with culture as much as geology. The metamorphic rock formations here are peppered with palawa rock shelters, carvings, artefacts and cave middens. Respect is the name of the game: look, but don’t touch.

Upstream from the north coast along kanamaluka / River Tamar, Cataract Gorge in Launceston is another significant place for palawa people. There are walking trails, swim spots, eateries, historic bridges and wandering peacocks here … but the rocks are the real stars: sheer dolerite cliffs and fractured black boulders, with the South Esk River surging through. It’s a thought-provoking place. Mull it over downstream at the River Studio accommodation.

Beach time

From wild ocean fringes to serene sandy curves, Tasmania’s beaches are less bikini, more beanie. You can usually find a stretch of shoreline here where you can sit and contemplate without too many beach bods around. Focus on the little things: a perfect shell, a twist of kelp, a smooth shard of beach glass … then swipe up to the horizon for the big-picture perspective. Clarity comes easily on Tasmania’s beaches.

Tasmania’s longest beach is a short drive from Strahan on the west coast. Ocean Beach delivers the ultimate Southern Ocean encounter — 40km of windswept sand with nothing between you and Argentina but shipwrecks and sea monsters.

For a slightly less epic rough-and-tumble in the surf, Redbill Beach at Bicheno has the east coast’s most reliable and accessible waves. There’s also Diamond lsland isthmus to wade across, dunes for the kids to tumble down, and some good food-and-drink options just up the road.

Not far south within Freycinet National Park are the cheerily named Friendly Beaches … but the only friends you’re likely to make here are wallabies, chunks of driftwood, and maybe an oyster shell or two. Oh the irony … But hey, friends come in all shapes and sizes.

Continuing south, sidestep the Wineglass Bay crowds and discover Crescent Bay within Tasman National Park — a lesser-known goblet of golden sand that feels blissfully detached from busy Port Arthur Historic Site just around the headland. Trek to the top of 174m Mt Brown en route for a good look around … or don’t. Exertion optional.

Closer to Hobart, jump in for a summer swim at Kingston Beach, Seven Mile Beach or Cremorne. Clifton Beach has the closest surf to the city, or ferry over to Bruny Island and check the swell at remote Cloudy Bay within South Bruny National Park.

In the north, where kanamaluka / River Tamar meets the sea, curvy Greens Beach sits alongside Narawntapu National Park — itself home to long-and-lean Bakers Beach (and more than a few wallabies). Across the estuary near Low Head is Lagoon Beach, a west-facing strip of sand with mesmerising sunsets.

If Tasmania was Greece, beautiful Boat Harbour Beach on the north-west coast would be backed by whitewashed houses and cobblestone alleys, with ouzo joints lining the harbour. Lucky for you, this uncrowded little swimming cove is 15,000km from Santorini. BYO ouzo.