Swansea to Coles Bay – Rain and red rocks (62k/460m)

(December 17, 2020 – written by Dave)

Wow, what a night. Imagine, sleeping in a bed and not having to get up and fight off wild animals at night. Pure bliss. It was just the not so swanky Swansea Motor Inn, but it was more than restful and just what we needed. The only issue was the rain that came in overnight and kept going into the morning. We knew that we’d be wet today from the start but at least we weren’t up defending our bags all night.

For the first 3 hours it never really rained but misted heavily – just enough to get our glasses wet and make us sweat under raincoats (did I mention that I love my raincoat that the Tassie Devil DIDN’T get away with the other day!). We made a slow start and kind of just puttered along on the only road out here – National Highway 3. For a major road, it had almost no shoulder but traffic was light and extremely polite.

Cranbrook School

We rode past a few wineries today, though there was limited temptation to stop given the rain and early hour. We finally pulled over when we reached the Devil’s Corner Winery, where they’ve build a quite impressive cafe/tasting room/high-end fish and chips shops combo out of shipping containers. The site is noted for its views out over Moulting Lagoon and Freycinet NP. Today we got views of the middle of the clouds. I’m sure that it is pretty on a sunny day. We had a look around but didn’t sample the wines – they wanted $12 per tasting. Given that it was 10:30AM, even if it had been free we probably wouldn’t have had a sample. We just said hello, enjoyed the views, used the restrooms, and moved on.

Wet at Devil’s Corner
There is a view out there, somewhere

We stopped for morning tea at The Pondering Frog cafe and ice creamery. The guy running the place, Lester, met us at the door and took our coffee orders and got fresh scones sorted. When he finished making the coffees, he came over with local maps and gave us the skinny on our next four or five days of travel. Lester gets full marks for being super keen and very knowledgeable about the area. We plan on stopping at the Frog on the way back out of Freycinet – hopefully it will be warm enough to sample their ‘best in Tasmania’ ice cream.

Morning tea with no bites taken
The Pondering Frog

It was about 30k from the Frog to Coles Bay. This last 30k was much better than first 30k, the sun even came out. We got to take off our rain gear and get dried out.  On this section of road we spotted 3 echidna foraging on the roadside verge. They are the strangest animal. They are not bothered by cars but get pretty edgy when we stop and get off the bikes. Their first move is to drop to the ground and form a ball. Within minutes of becoming a ball, they hop up and make a beeline for the deep grass. We were never fast enough to get between them and the bush and when they reach the grass they dig their heads under a bush or clump of grass and form up into a ball again.

Grass ball number one
Grass ball number two
Number three!

So, when taking photos of one, mostly you get what looks like sticks in the grass or just more sticks in a sticky bush. Take all the photos you want – you’ll have to work hard to convince your friends that you’ve snapped anything but a bush. We’ll try to get a face on an echidna sometime in the next couple weeks but I am sure they won’t make it easy.

Be aware of grass balls and kangaroos

We decided to pull up at Coles Bay, just outside the national park. There is a nice caravan park here and we wanted to have a camp kitchen where we could get out of the rain should it continue. It had stopped raining by the time we left the Pondering Frog but the next few days are unsettled and rain is forecast overnight.

We’ve been on this road since Hobart – so far no complaints
Who would complain with such knowledgeable locals living here?

 We debated on getting a cabin at the caravan park and even talked about a room at the adjacent YHA but ended up taking a camp spot. Nancy says I owe her “down the road” but all that sun had clearly dried out feet and the “LWOP wet foot, get a room” rule would have been stretched to the limit.

Everyone’s a grinner when the sun is out

We are in the part of the coast where red lichen makes the coastal rocks very photogenic. We wandered the foreshore of Coles Bay for a bit this afternoon and got some interesting photos. I’m sure that they won’t be the last ones that we post. It’s easy to overdose taking photos– and hard to cull out just a couple to post.

Coles Bay views
Same view, looking north – lichen grows on the south side of rocks here
One more…

Tomorrow more rain is forecast but we are taking a day off to head into the park and walk to the famous Wineglass Bay overlook. There is currently a window of clear skies mid-day that should give us time to make the dash and with luck, to see the bay.  

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