Beach at Freycinet National Park, Tasmania
Australia

Hiking the Freycinet Circuit

I finished my first trimester studying nursing at the University of Tasmania and had three weeks to fill. Obviously, I wanted to include some hiking in that. As I didn’t want to finance my own hike, I convinced my parents that they wanted to go on a hike. Specifically, the Freycinet Circuit. This strategy worked beautifully and I was soon embarking on an all-expenses-paid hike, with both of my parents and four younger siblings.

Freycinet Hiking Video

If you can’t be bothered reading the rest of my post, then this video summary of our hike is for you! I’ll pretend that I’m not just a little offended…

Day 1 of the of Hiking the Freycinet Peninsular Circuit

Wineglass Bay carpark to Hazards Beach Campsite – 5km

We didn’t start hiking until 1pm as we had to drive three hours from Launceston. Technically the drive is only supposed to take a bit over two hours. The problem was that me and my two sisters are on our L plates. So the drive took ages and my brothers (and parents) were convinced we were going to die the whole time.

The Freycinet National Park carpark was very busy, as were the first few kilometers of the trail. I was starting to think that the circuit would be packed. But then we passed the intersection with the day loop track, and we had the peninsula nearly to ourselves. We only saw one other overnight hiker.

My siblings were having a ridiculous amount of fun walking along the beach. Even though they were ahead of me and our parents, I could hear shouting and cackling laughter. They started drawing messages in the sand for us. The messages started out simple enough, ‘We’re hungry’ or ‘Forrest is eating my almonds’ and ‘fire hazard’ next to some driftwood. It kept me amused!

When we reached the camp at Hazards Beach we set up, then I went back down to the beach to escape the clouds of mozzies and eat dinner. After hiking the first 685km of the Te Araroa with a very heavy pack I’ve become obsessed with trying to make my gear lighter and I’m turning into a crazy ultralighter. That’s why I’m experimenting with cold food as I don’t want to carry a stove, fuel and pot, or need to worry about the extra water for washing up.

Turns out cold muesli is actually a pretty good meal!

It was dark by 5.30 pm and the mosquitos were out in force. We were all forced to go to bed very early. I got pretty bored as I had nothing to do (it’s not worth carrying extra stuff). Dad started playing music from his tent and singing along, changing the lyrics. We warned him that there was another hiker also camping nearby. He didn’t believe us and just sang louder. The next morning he was horrified to see another tent, not very far from ours! Holli, Asha and Forrest (mostly Forrest) were so noisy till late that dad said that they had to put their tent at least 100m away from everyone else from now on.

Can you spy the wombat? There’s better footage of it in the video. It was only a few metres away from my tent.

We had another wildlife encounter at Hazard’s Beach. Mum and dad woke up in the middle of the night to hear gnawing, and found a possum chewing on Rex’s food jar (which he’d accidentally left outside the tent).

Dad couldn’t scare it off, and he had to go outside in his undies and chase it up a tree to save Rex’s jar. Luckily it was so dark that the other hikers probably weren’t any more traumatised than they were by his singing.

Day 2 of the Freycinet Peninsular Circuit Hike

Hazards Beach Campsite to Wineglass Bay Campsite – 19km

Our second day of the hike started off with an easy walk through coastal scrub. We got lulled into a false sense of security….and then it started climbing.

Hiking to the top of Mt. Freycinet

Mum and I chose to do the detour up to the top of Mt. Freycinet. The sign said it was only 750m which sounded easy. It. Was. Not. Easy. In fact, it was the hardest part of the whole trip! While there were orange blazes marking where to climb, they were few and far between. We kept veering off course and needed to search for the next marker. There wasn’t a path on the ground so we simply had to climb upwards when in doubt. The last 100 metres were the hardest. We had to rock climb over some large boulders, hanging onto tree roots.

The view at the top of Mt Freycinet was spectacular, despite being shrouded in fog and drizzling rain. I’ll admit that I didn’t enjoy it much at the time as I was freezing cold from the wind and rain. Got to remember to ALWAYS take a jacket in Tasmania.

Hiking over Mt Graham

We planned to have a break at the bottom of Mt. Freycinet but the rest of the family were freezing. They had all their clothes on and were huddled under waterproof ponchos, so we just kept walking. Next up was started climbing over Mt Graham. Despite being much easier than the detour up Mt Freycinet I found this to be the most challenging part of the trail. That was probably due to the fact that it hadn’t stopped raining and I was feeling wet, cold, sore and miserable in general.

Luckily, once we were over the mountain we were less exposed to the wind and the rain abated. I was backing into my happy-hiker state, singing Loch Lomond and the Skye Boat Song as I walked. The moor we were on reminded me of Scotland (despite the fact I’ve never been – but I’m a pretty big percentage Scottish, maybe it’s genetic memory?).

We finally made it down to the Wineglass Bay campsite, and even though it was cold and a bit rainy the beach was pretty spectacular. Of course, everyone else in the family started damming and rerouting Indigo Creek.

Yet again, we had a very early night. None of us want to get Ross River Fever from the mosquitos. There were no water tanks at Wineglass Bay Campsite so I filtered creek water, had my meal, and went to bed.

I like having my own tent. The other six experimented with taking only two 2-man tents between them. They said it worked, except Forrest has always been a very energetic sleeper, and somehow ended up at the opposite end of the tent, kicking Holli and Asha in the face.

Day Three of the Freycinet Peninsular Circuit

Wineglass Bay campsite back to the carpark – 4 km

Mum and dad got up early to watch the sunrise over Wineglass Bay. It was too cold and early for me, but they shared their photos.

The last day of our hike was only four kilometres, but they were mostly uphill. It started off by hiking over the sand of Wineglass Bay. The beach walking reminded me that I had to find my lost hiking gaiter to keep the sand out of my shoes. My DIY hiking gaiters are my favourite trekking accessory!

It was quite easy until the stairs started. It turns out that there are over a thousand stairs from Wineglass Bay to the carpark. They didn’t bother me much but some members of my family started to lag (OK, mum was way behind us). It also didn’t help that we’d run out of water the night before so we didn’t get breakfast until we got back to the car.

Freycinet Circuit, national park Tasmania

I always forget how much my family sook when they’re hungry. Most of the way they were trying to outcompete each other with are we there yet, and I’m hungrier than you are. Poor me for needing to listen to them.

It was great getting back to the food we’d left in the car. We stood in the carpark, stuffing our faces until the mosquitos forced us to get into the car and leave.

Overall Thoughts on Hiking the Freycinet Peninsular Circuit

This was a great hike and overall I really enjoyed it. The landscape was spectacular and so different to what I’m used to. My highlight would be seeing two wombats, especially the one that ran past me not even a metre away!

The terrain was more difficult than I expected. I thought that as Freycinet and Wineglass Bay were so famous, the track would be easy and well maintained. It was still nowhere near as hard as the Te Araroa so it felt like a holiday!

We decided that the hike felt too short. Others might not agree with this but we felt that we were only just starting the get into our rhythm when we finished.

Know Before You Go

Want to hike the Freycinet Peninsular Circuit?

Parks Pass. As the Freycinet Circuit hike is located in a Tasmanian national park, you will need a valid Parks Pass. They can be purchased for $70 here from Parks and Wildlife.

Hike anti-clockwise. Parks and Wildlife recommends hiking the trail in an anti-clockwise direction. This is to help stop the spread of root rot (Phytophthora) which is killing the Grasstrees.

Ross River Fever. I was surprised to find out that the mosquitos in Tasmania can carry Ross River Fever. I was pretty used to it in North QLD, but here? Anyway, take lots of insect repellent and retreat to your tent as soon as the Mozzies come out in force. Ross River Fever is not a disease you want to catch.

Weather. As with any outdoor activity, check the weather report. We hiked Freycinet in May as that’s when I had a Uni break. Freycinet is a lot milder than most Tasmanian hikes but I still recommended hiking it in the warmer months. I would not go any later than May as we were getting pretty cold in our tents at night.

Water was quite scarce and not all of the campsites had water tanks. There were only a few streams, which were running low. Plan ahead of time where you will refill and take some form of water treatment.

Got any questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments below!

2 Comments

  • Lusi Austin

    Loved this Gabrielle! I’d love to know about your water treatment that you used.
    All I remember are good ol’ Puri-tabs from back in my Duke of Ed days.
    Thanks for sharing. I hope to get down there some day to check out some of that spectacular scenery you captured so well.
    Lusi x

    • Gabrielle

      Thanks for the question Lusi! We use the Sawyer Mini water filter. They can be a bit slow but overall I love mine. I’ve never actually tried purification tablets.

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