LOST IN SPACE
A dreamlike experience awaits in Tasmania’s famous Freycinet
Iam still a bit dazed from driving in the dark when we arrive at Freycinet Lodge to stay at one of its new waterfront Coastal Pavilions. Stepping inside our accommodation, we find ourselves cocooned within dimly lit timber walls, suspended ceilings and glass. It’s a mysterious, liminal zone where straight lines are eschewed for curves and, like a good dream, the space simultaneously confounds and delights.
In the semi-darkness we feel our way along the Tas Oak walls, some of which eventually reveal themselves to be sliding doors, only to be greeted by our own distorted reflections in the elliptical soaring glass panes of the lounge room beyond.
For a memorable weekend away in one of Tasmania’s most beautiful locations, it would be hard to surpass these extraordinarily seductive spaces.
“It’s a bit MONA,” remarks my guest. “It sort of frustrates your attempts to treat it as a normal space.” The comparison to the landmark Hobart contemporary art museum is intended in a good way. Tomorrow these glass walls will reveal a beautiful view over Great Oyster Bay and Freycinet National Park, but tonight they just make us laugh at our befuddled selves. So this is why the reception staff must have flashed those cheeky smiles as they wished us well on our self-discovery tour.
Nestled over about 5ha between Richardsons Beach and Honeymoon Bay, the site has hosted holidaymakers for generations. Building on the popularity of its cabins, the launch of the Pavilions marks Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania’s entry into top-end tourism. The design features a distinct feeling of extravagance, restraint and whimsy.
The bedroom, off the entranceway, is a sumptuous affair of dusky-blue velvet curtains, white linen and a roohued, faux-fur throw. Off to the other side, a curving hallway leads to the lounge area, with its chic leather seating and a bioethanol fireplace behind glass. Along the hallway, hidden behind sliding panels, are the shower with strategically patterned glass and great beach views, but it’s the outdoor bath we can’t get enough of.
Dinner in the capacious main lodge building offers plenty of local fare. We opt for the fish of the day, blue-eye trevalla, and a seafood cioppino with clams, mussels, oysters, salmon and trevalla, as well as prawns from farther shores. From a wine list with lots of local drops, I choose a glass of Springvale Melrose pinot noir, savouring the memory of the first time I drank it, after my maiden Wineglass Bay walk a few years ago.
The track begins and finishes just a few minutes’ drive from the lodge, but we are taking the luxurious option tomorrow and will be visiting by boat. A peaceful, slightly grey, early morning clears to magnificent blue sky and vivid waters by the time our Wineglass Bay Cruise catamaran collects us from the lodge’s private jetty for a four-hour return trip. The Tasmanians among us bask in the warm morning rays, which are by no means a given here at this time of year. Once aboard, we motor past the famous rocky range known as the Hazards and follow a dramatic coastline dominated by sheer granite cliffs south around the tip of the Freycinet Peninsula. Along the way, we pull into sheltered bays and coves for close encounters with fur seals, cormorants and shy albatross. We spy a huge sea eagle’s nest near Schouten Passage, where we emerge from sheltered waters into the Tasman Sea. Joy springs in these friskier waters when we discover dolphins racing the boat near the bow.
Skipper Richard tells me of his surprise a few weeks before when he arrived with a load of guests to find a submarine surfaced in Wineglass Bay, unleashing cabin-fevered sailors into the pristine turquoise waters for a splash. Today, though, there are just a couple of cray boats bobbing about, and a sprinkle of hikers on the famous stretch of sand. Seated upstairs in the premium Sky Lounge section, we toast our arrival with sparkling wine, Spring Bay mussels, octopus, oysters and hot-smoked salmon before a ploughman’s lunch is served.
Back at the lodge we spend the afternoon in our beautiful nest, enjoying the sense of deep retreat and pleasure in our tranquil surroundings.
THE WRITER WAS A GUEST OF THE RACT