WWF-Australia and Tasmanian Walking Company Foundation have partnered to raise funds for conservation through Walk for Wild.
One hundred per cent of profits from Walk for Wild trips are donated to WWF-Australia and our work to Regenerate Australia.
Pristine beaches, being wined and dined, the most heavenly bath you’ve ever seen - let me tell you about the hike to end all hikes.
The author / Sophie Hueppauff on the inaugural Bay of Fires Walk for Wild trip. © WWF-Australia / Gillian Bent
I’m Sophie, and I’m part of the Content Team at WWF-Australia. I was lucky enough to join one of the inaugural Walk for Wild trips with our partners Tasmanian Walking Company (TWC) in the Bay of Fires.
Anyone who’s been on a multi-day hike will know what a gruelling experience they can be. Sure, there are breathtaking views and the satisfaction of carrying everything you need on your own back, but there can also be aching, blistered feet, shoulder pain from ill-fitting packs, same-same powdered meals and the cold, hard ground waiting for you once you go to bed.
What if I told you there was a way to experience all the good things about multi-day hikes but without any of the discomfort? Read on for a two-day sneak peek into the four-day luxury hike with Tasmanian Walking Company.
To help Australians switch off and take time out for nature, WWF-Australia and Tasmanian Walking Company are giving you the chance to win a luxury walking holiday for two on the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk.
Breathing in the crisp early morning air, we arrived at TWC Launceston headquarters and met our fellow hikers and two TWC guides. Our lovely and knowledgeable guides gave us an all-important safety briefing before helping us sort our gear and fit our packs. Once the bags were safely and comfortably secured, it was into the bus to begin our journey.
After about two hours of driving through the Tasmanian countryside (and getting our first glimpse of a ‘turbo chook’ - a Tasmanian native hen nicknamed by locals for their 50km/h running speeds), we pulled up into Stumpy’s Bay to begin our 27km trek down the coast.
With sunscreen on, bags fitted, and boots laced tight, we rounded the corner onto the beach and were greeted by our first look at the glittery, aquamarine ocean rhythmically lapping up against white sand and the iconic lichen-covered boulders the bay is known for. Just perfect. This would be our almost-constant scenery for the next four days.
Excited for the trip ahead at the beginning of our walk in the Bay of Fires © WWF-Australia / Sophie Hueppauff
We spent the rest of the morning plodding along, stopping to inspect various treasures along the way - empty casings of draughtboard shark eggs, weirdly gelatinous clumps of white and orange squid eggs, bluebottles (don’t touch those!) and iridescent abalone shells. We were even treated to a seal splashing about in the shallows before it saw us coming and floated further out to sea.
Beach treasures: shark egg casings, vivid egg clusters, abalone shells. © WWF-Australia / Sophie Hueppauff
Some history that was explained by our guides as we walked: most people think the Bay of Fires earned its name because of the iconic orange lichen that covers the coastal rocks. However, the English name was actually coined when navigator Tobias Furneaux sailed past in 1773 and saw smoke rising from hundreds of campfires built by the Palawa or Pakana people (Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples).
A little after 5 pm, we reached Forester Beach Camp: our home for the night. Nestled behind the sand dunes and amongst the shrubbery, the camp (and our amazing guides-turned-chefs) made us feel at home with a cheese platter and a comfy lounge to rest our worn bodies.
The tents at Forester Beach Camp. Not bad. © WWF-Australia / Sophie Hueppauff
That night saw a delicious dinner, dessert and a glass of local Tassie wine. We had our first nightly briefing, detailing where we had been and what was to come tomorrow, before retiring to our sleeping bags with full bellies and hot water bottles to keep the cold night at bay.
Today marked our longest day of hiking, with a little over 14km to cover before reaching our next lot of accommodation.
The morning of day two, setting off into the sun. © WWF-Australia / Sophie Hueppauff
Now, I’m not going to lie to you, there were already a few little niggles starting to appear in my hips and shoulders from the day before. But welcome distractions soon appeared in the form of feathered friends that adorned the coastline and sand dunes around us.
Spot the plover - Pied oystercatchers (Haematopus longirostris), a Pacific gull (Larus pacificus) and a vulnerable hooded plover (Thinornis cucullatus) forage on the waterline. © WWF-Australia / Sophie Hueppauff
A white-fronted chat surveys our walking group from the sand dunes above. © WWF-Australia / Sophie Hueppauff
Sanderlings (Calidris alba) take flight in the Bay of Fires. © WWF-Australia / Sophie Hueppauff
Though we didn’t see any other animals directly, it soon became clear that we were also sharing the beach with a number of mammals. Everywhere you looked, footprints in the sand indicated the journeys of wallabies, kangaroos, wombats and even a quoll!
One of the endless stunning views in the Bay of Fires, Tasmania. © WWF-Australia / Sophie Hueppauff
Nature’s true force was demonstrated to us later that morning when we came to cross an inlet. Usually, this particular estuary is low enough to comfortably walk, but recent storms had seen the waterway swell and rise, meaning our path across was filled with icy, waist-deep water.
As one of those people who takes forever to get into a swimming pool if it’s less than 40°C outside, this was definitely going to be a challenge for me. Following the group (who were already bravely ploughing ahead), I dropped my pack, quickly took off my boots and put my feet and ankles into the cold water. Instantly my lower legs began to ache, so I hopped out again. It was painfully cold. With the numbing pain continuing to throb up my legs and the rest of the group nearly all on the other side, there was nothing for it. I headed back in and waded across, feeling for secure footing in the dark water, stained from the tannins of tea trees upstream.
Of course, this all sounds wildly dramatic, but in reality, everybody made their way across safely, albeit slowly, with our guides wading across multiple times to ferry our packs. Way to make it look easy.
After that invigorating dip, we continued ahead. Around lunchtime we made it to a long-awaited milestone - a lighthouse that we’d been staring at in the distance all morning.
Built in 1889, the Eddystone Point Lighthouse is a feat of engineering for its time - a tower made of local granite over 35m high, with a huge mirrored lantern at the top weighing multiple tonnes producing light at the top. I couldn’t help but think how on Earth they had got it up there.
Looking back towards the Eddystone Point Lighthouse. © WWF-Australia / Sophie Hueppauff
We were entering the final stretch. Only an hour or so later, after a final gruelling trudge up a steep hill, we would finally arrive at the Bay of Fires Lodge.
And, wow, was it a welcome arrival. We puffed our way up the stairs and onto a large deck overlooking the bay and were greeted by the very friendly lodge hosts and various refreshments. After a quick tour of our accommodation, it was time to finally pull off our hiking boots and give our feet a well-earned soak in the foot baths on the back deck, complete with chilled glasses of champagne.
The warm and welcoming library at the Bay of Fires Lodge. © WWF-Australia / Sophie Hueppauff
As if the warm wood tones, stunning views, impeccable hospitality and crisp white sheets weren’t enough to relax you, the lodge also has its own spa, complete with an in-house spa therapist. While the others soaked away their aches and pains, it was time for me to have possibly the most luxurious experience I’ve ever had.
Waiting for me down a winding path through the bush was an angled bath on a private deck overlooking the surrounding bushland and azure ocean beyond. As I got in and sipped my champagne, birds flitted around, and I even heard the rustlings of a wallaby in the greenery below. Luxury bath salts and scrubs, steamy water and an unforgettable view - this was the best way to reward my stiff body after hours of carrying my pack through sand and scrambling over rock.
I rejoined the rest of the group while they were enjoying yet another cheese platter and more wine. We were then treated to an epic three-course dinner filled to the brim with local Tassie produce before falling into the welcoming embrace of soft beds and the comfort of sleep.
Like the sound of this trip? You have the chance to win this incredible trip for two - if you haven’t already (why not???), enter here.