Internationally renowned as one of Australia’s most breathtaking coastal peninsulas, the Freycinet National Park peninsula showcases beautiful crystal waters, stunning granite peaks and thriving wildlife. Following a 31km long trail, the Freycinet Circuit walk takes in many pristine beaches over 2 or 3 days. Walkers can also be challenged by the optional climb to the top of Mount Freycinet (620m).
The trail itself is well-formed and covers a variety of terrains, making it a fantastic introductory option for walkers new to multiday hiking.
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|Freycinet National Park is 195km from Hobart and roughly 3 hours drive. From Hobart, take the Tasman Highway (A3) through Sorell and continue up the East Coast. This highway takes you the majority of the way until you reach the turn-off to Coles Bay Road (C302) 12km before Bicheno. Continue for another 20km, passing through the township of Coles Bay to reach Freycinet National Park. The Freycinet Circuit begins from the main carpark.
The following trail guide follows the Freycinet Peninsula in an anti-clockwise direction. This direction is recommended by Parks and Wildlife to help stop the spread of root rot (Phytophthora).
Beginning at the main carpark the trail follows the initial track towards Wineglass Bay for 100m before forking to the right along the Hazards Beach Track. This first section of the walk is easygoing along a gently graded track positioned just above the coastline. An array of dry sclerophyll plant species shade this section with occasional breaks providing lookout points back towards the crystal waters of Coles Bay.
The trail slowly descends to the coast, uncovering a series of small sandy coves which provide lovely spots to rest and soak up the view towards the distant Maria Island. Hazards beach is reached within the hour, and the 2.5km slog along the sand begins. Many birds live along the dune line of this beach, so please stick to the packed sand. There is a campsite and toilet at the far end of Hazards Beach. Note – there is no ideal water source at Hazards Beach beside the creek running beside the camp area. Head upstream 50m to find running water.
For the next 3.5km, the terrain is much the same as you follow the coast towards the north end of Cooks Beach. The Cooks Beach campsite is situated at the other end of the beach, 1km away. Located just off the beach, this picturesque campsite is recommended as the first night’s campsite. Water can often be found in the tank adjacent to a Cooks Beach Hut (day use only), a short distance inland.
This first day’s 13km walk is quite relaxed and should easily be completed in less than 5 hours. For walkers wishing to explore the area further, an additional 1.5 hour return easy graded trail leading to Bryans Bay continues from the Cooks Beach campgrounds. An exposed campground can be found at Bryans Bay, though no toilet or freshwater facilities are available.
The second day’s hiking to Wineglass Bay is more challenging, especially for those wanting to make their way to the summit of Mount Freycinet. An early start is recommended as walking time will be close to 8 hours. From the campsite, retrace your steps along Cooks Beach to find the track heading inland towards Mt Graham sign posted at the other end. The trail climbs, gradually at first and then steeply, to the saddle between Mt Freycinet and Mt Graham, just over 5km away. The views are you look back towards the coast are spectacular. Similarly, the stunning magnitude of the mountains is realised as you climb to an altitude of 500m above sea level.
The climb to the top of Mount Freycinet (620m) is offered as a sidetrack and is definitely worthwhile as it offers the highest and encompassing view within the national park. Leaving large packs at the saddle, the summit can be quickly reached in less than 1 hour. This climb is the most technically difficult section of the hike, but experienced walkers will have no issues.
Once returning to the saddle, another climb, this time to the summit of Mt Graham commences. The track is steep but well-formed and offers a plethora of stunning views to take in while catching your breath. Past the summit, the trail continues across the ridgeline before slowly descending to Wineglass Bay over the next 2 hours.
Wineglass Bay is nothing short of stunning and camping here is utterly unbelievable. Almost all of the woes from the climb earlier are forgotten once you are sitting on the quartzite white sands taking in the amazing view of the Hazards against the crystal blue water. A small freshwater creek runs past the campsite, but its quality cannot be assured.
The walk back to the trailhead is only 5km from the end of Wineglass Bay, and the hike can be managed in only two days. The trail climbs to the Hazards Saddle from the opposite end of Wineglass Beach. The track is extremely well constructed, and the saddle should only take about 1.5 hours to reach from the campsite. A quick sidetrack to the Wineglass Bay lookout is found here, and only is 10 minutes return. Continue over the saddle for another 30 minutes to reach the end of the walk.
Estimated time and distances:
Coles Bay to Cooks Beach via Hazards Track: 5 hours, 12km
Cooks Beach to Wineglass Bay via Mount Freycinet/Mount Graham: 9 hours, 14km
Wineglass Bay to Coles Bay: 5km
Map for illustrative purposes only. Base map supplied by Land Information System Tasmania.
Hazards and Warnings
Drinking water is in limited supply along the entire circuit. In summer, creeks are dry, and freshwater can only be found in the tank at Cooks Beach hut. Be sure to check with National Park staff about its status. Carry enough water with you to cover you in an emergency; you will need at least 2 litres per person per day.
Ensure you have the appropriate gear to meet all weather conditions. Temperatures and conditions can quickly change within the higher altitudes of the circuit, and high wings often frequent the southern coast.