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Bay of Fires

48 hours in Bay of Fires, Tasmania

A weekend guide for families exploring Tasmania’s popular national park and conservation area.

If you’ve been thinking about a visit to the Bay of Fires on Tasmania’s east coast, now is the time to go. This conservation area offers so much for families, from stunning beaches to locally sourced produce and excellent accommodation offerings, making it one to add to your family’s bucket list, stat, says Cara Wagstaff.

Bridestowe Lavender Farm

Getting to the Bay of Fires

We pick up our hire car from Launceston airport, bound for Tasmania’s east coast. Our GPS gives us two options to take, but Jan, our stayz.com.au host, called ahead to suggest we take the scenic route, which winds through lush rainforest reserves, farmland and rolling green hills.

Driving along the single-lane highway, we spot a sign for Bridestowe Lavender Farm, the working lavender farm loved by Instagrammers. Too good to miss, we meander through the curved rows of flowers and the perfumed gift shop. And, of course, we get the perfect shot of lavender-infused ice-cream among the gardens. Although the aromatic flower isn’t in full bloom – the best time to visit is December to January – it still makes for a great photo. Back on the road, we barely pass another car on the highway and stop to pat friendly horses on the side of the road.

stayz rental

Home away from home

Arriving in St Helens, the nearest town to the Bay of Fires, we stock up on staples for the weekend. There are two IGA grocery stores, a provedore and a fish shop for fresh, sustainably sourced seafood.

A short and scenic 10 minutes later, we’re at our uber-family-friendly rental. Sitting directly across the road from the sugar-white sands of Binalong Bay beach, this architect-designed house has considered everything you could want or need in a holiday rental. The palette is whites and cool greys with splashes of colour and brilliant ocean views. It is well-equipped for kids of all ages with three sets of bunk beds, a baby cot, high chair and library of reading material, including picture books, in a cute nook under the stairs.

There are four bedrooms, two lounge rooms, laundry and a fully equipped kitchen. Opening the fridge, we find a half-dozen oysters from local oyster farm, Lease 65, and a bottle of Tasmanian sparkling wine from our host, Jan. We’re also able to organise a late check-out, making our stay seamless and easy.

stayz rental

Binalong Bay

The small coastal town of Binalong Bay is nestled at the southern end of the Bay of Fires and offers a plethora of holiday rentals. In the area, families can enjoy scenic walks, bird watching, snorkelling, surfing, game fishing or simply enjoying a dip in one of the secluded bays.

Exhausted from our day of driving, ice-cream tasting and snapping selfies, we head to the aptly named Lichen Restaurant. As the only restaurant in town, we were lucky to snaffle a last-minute reservation. Friendly staff greet us, ushering us to our table on the covered outdoor patio, which is packed with families feasting on wood fired pizzas and pasta. Foodies will love the local oysters, slow-cooked roasted pork belly and a Flintstone-sized portion of almond and rosemary-crumbed veal rib eye. If you’ve got a sweet tooth like us, the homemade sticky date pudding is a must.

binalong bay

Exploring the Bay of Fires

We wake as the sun is rising, eager to check out the Bay of Fires. We first drive the length of Binalong Bay before making our way north. With grazing cows to our left and turquoise beaches with pure white-sand beaches to our right, the journey is a scenic one. We arrive at The Gardens, one of the areas on the 50-kilometre stretch of land that makes up the Bay of Fires, and admire the hulking orange lichen-covered boulders. Apart from a scattered handful of other visitors, it feels like we’ve stepped into our own private beach with only one farm behind us as company. Kids will love climbing on the boulders to get the best views of the sea.

For an alternative perspective, check out Bay of Fires Eco Tours, which operates one-, two- and three-hour boat trips, allowing visitors to experience the coastline, learn about its history and possibly spot dolphins, southern right and humpback whales, fur seals, pelicans and albatross.

bay of fires the garden

Cheese lovers paradise

Venturing further afield for lunch, we head to Pyengana Dairy Farm which specialises in cheddar cheeses. It’s a unique dairy farm, as the milking process is completely machine-operated and runs 24/7 without a farmer on site. The cows go in when they’re ready to be milked and are rewarded with a portion of kibble for their efforts.

Back in the Holy Cow Cafe, we help ourselves to the samples on offer before deciding on the Tasmania Gourmet Platter, stacked high with smoked salmon, pickled vegetables, relish and, of course, the farm’s signature cheddar cheeses. We watch as the cows line up to be milked, scanned in by a barcode on the neck, before ambling off back to the green hills to refuel.

pyengana dairy

Did you know?

The Bay of Fires isn’t named after the orange-hued growth on the rocks, rather, its name comes from English navigator Captain Tobias Furneaux, who accompanied James Cook on his second voyage, 1772–1775. Furneaux noticed a series of fires burning on the shore, which had been lit by the Aboriginal people, hence the name, Bay of Fires. To find out more about the destination, click here.

bay of fires beach

The writer was a guest of stayz.com.au, however, all meals, activities and experiences were paid for by the writer. To find your next family escape, check out the awesome holiday rental listings here.

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