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Visitors looking for fun places to go in Tasmania can’t go wrong with the island’s east coast. Right along the eastern side of the state you find exciting destinations, including Wineglass Bay and the Tasman Peninsula. But one place that captures peoples’ attention with just its name is the incredible Bay of Fires. Home to some pristine beaches and intriguing coastal features, there are plenty of things to do in the Bay of Fires in Tasmania for travellers.
To really get the most out of this stunning Tasmanian destination, it helps to know where to go. Visiting the Bay of Fires isn’t as simple as somewhere like Wineglass Bay as it’s a bit spread out. What’s more, there are some places that are better than others to see the region’s signature orange rocks. Here’s where you need to know about based on my time driving around the Bay of Fires.
Where is The Bay of Fires?
The first thing to grapple with planning to travel here is working out exactly where the Bay of Fires is. After all, the name doesn’t exactly describe one place but an entire stretch of protected coastline in north-eastern Tasmania.
The Bay of Fires or the Bay of Fires Conservation Area refers to the coast from Binalong Bay up to larapuna, formerly known as Eddystone. This puts the region on the famous Great Eastern Drive of Tasmania, with some great waterfalls nearby that are also worth visiting. All of this is
What makes the Bay of Fires so special is the brilliant orange lichen that covers rocks along its coast. Now, there are other beaches in Tasmania with this lichen as well, such as West Point State Reserve. You can even see similar rocks all the way over in Western Australia. But for Tasmania, Bay of Fires remains the most popular spot to see this phenomenon.
The area earned its name after Captain Tobias Furneaux spotted fires on its beaches when he sailed past, but many often think it’s from the vivid orange colour of the coast’s iconic rocks. It’s really hard not to think it’s because of the rocks when you see their colour at full strength.
Lone Tree at Binalong Bay
Starting at the southern end of the reserve we have the Lone Tree at Binalong Bay. Visiting the entire area around Binalong Bay is probably the most popular of the Bay of Fires things to do, as it’s easily accessible and immediately shows you what the bay is all about.
While the community here is known as Binalong Bay, the area with all the best views is actually Skeleton Bay Reserve. There you have lots of small sheltered coves, littered with lichen-covered rocks. There are paths and viewpoints around the area that make it an easy place to walk through to see the rocks. You can also swim here if you like, as it’s very protected and shallow.
Among the rocks and still water here you’ll find the Lone Tree, a sight that’s basically unmistakable. Lone Tree is especially popular with photographers at sunrise. Just Google it and you’ll see what I mean.
Binalong Bay Beach
Just west of Lone Tree and the small community that live here you’ll find the main beach in the area, Binalong Bay Beach. Boasting soft white sand and beautifully clear water, it’s the kind of beach you dream of visiting. Whether you want to sunbathe, swim or even go surfing, this is the place to go.
If you’re looking for a really pleasant Bay of Fires walk, head off from the eastern end of the beach and head off to its northern end. There you’ll find some fantastic rocks to clamber about and see more vibrant orange stains of lichen. Still, as much as I expected the orange rocks here, I didn’t know this area had such stunning beaches. Tasmania is the kind of place that continues to surprise you no matter how much time you spend there.
Many people rave about Swimcart Beach as the being the best beach on this part of the coast. My experience was a bit soured by powerful, icy winds, but even then I could see the appeal. Swimcart Beach is north along the coast from Binalong Bay Beach, just up from Jeanneret Beach. It offers more fresh white sand for you to walk around on, but even better, loads more rocks to climb on.
The best point of access for this beach is the Swimcart campground. That’s because you arrive right by the idyllic Swimcart Lagoon just behind the beach. The lagoon has its own inland beaches, all of which adds to the gorgeous scenery of the area.
Continuing north along the coast, the next spot to visit on the Bay of Fires is Cosy Corner. While there is a small beach here as well, to me visiting Cosy Corner is all about the rocks there. Personally, I think the rocks at Cosy Corner are the most impressive I came across along the coast here. If you want to see the orange lichen in full force, this is the place to go.
Rather than just a small collection of rocks, the northern end of this cove is home to actual low rocky cliffs. You can spend a surprising amount of time walking around Cosy Corner on the Bay of Fires. I didn’t even reach the furthest point of the rocks and I spent maybe 40 minutes leaping from one rock to the next.
Roughly half way up the Bay of Fires lies the small scenic point known as The Gardens. This spot found at the very end of a local road is a common stop for tourists exploring the coastline. A simple walking path makes a loop around the small headland here and there’s a fair smattering of orange rocks to see. At the high point there’s a viewpoint, but honestly, it all was a bit underwhelming after everything I’d already seen that day.
Ansons Bay and larapuna
Although there’s more to the conservation area to north, namely Ansons Bay, larapuna and Eddystone Point Lighthouse, you can’t reach them from the Gardens. No, you need to drive all the way back to Binalong Bay and loop around Mount Pearson State Reserve. As I didn’t have the time for that, those are places I’ve yet to see.
St Helens Conservation Area
Finally, there’s one other place I want you to know about. Even though it’s not actually part of the Bay of Fires, the St Helens Conservation Area is not to be missed. Located south of all the places we’ve been looking at, the conservation area covers a long narrow peninsula outside St Helens.
The St Helens Conservation Area feels even more remote and wild, which is why it’s worth adding to your east coast itinerary. Two places you’ll want to find on the peninsula are Beerbarrell Beach and the Peron Dunes. Beerbarrell Beach sits at the bottom of the eastern end of the peninsula and is simply stunning. The Peron Dunes on the other hand, are surprisingly massive and extensive, running down the east coast. You could easily spend half a day exploring these places, so plan accordingly!
Tips for Visiting the Bay of Fires in Tasmania
Beyond just knowing the best places to go, there are some things that will help you enjoy your Bay of Fires trip. One recommendation is that as The Gardens is perhaps the least interesting spot, maybe start there and work your way south to the more interesting places. That way your scenery improves as you go.
For Bay of Fires accommodation, visitors generally choose between Scamander, St Helens and Binalong Bay. That is if you want a hotel/motel or vacation rental. Otherwise, you’ll find Bay of Fires camping spots all up the coast including scenic free camping grounds at Swimcart Beach and Cosy Corner. I found the Pelican Sands Scamander motel comfortable, if a little basic, and I hear good things about the cabins at Scamander Sanctuary Holiday Park.
Finally, much like most places in Tasmania, driving is the best way to get to and around the coast here. That’s because, while there are buses from Launceston to the Bay of Fires (St Helens), you’ll then have no way to get up the coast from there.
Is the Bay of Fires on your bucket list for Tasmania already? What other places along the east coast would you recommend to travellers? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.