Picnic Island, Freycinet, Coles Bay, Tasmania
Sleep with the penguins on a private island on Tasmania’s rugged east coast.
By Jessica Wilkinson
Published: 17 March, 2016
Over a decade ago, Clem Newton-Brown bought Picnic Island – a little sandstone island off the coast of Coles Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula in Tasmania. Dotted with Penguin burrows and punctuated by high limestone cliffs, Clem initially used the secluded location as a camping holiday spot with his family.
Now, after seven years in the making, Clem has added accommodation to his little piece of the Tasmanian coast – making it the only place in the world where you can sleep within a penguin colony on an island. The private island retreat is 800 metres (0.4 miles) offshore located in the bay in front of the Saffire resort. It is also just around the corner from Wineglass Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula.
The architecturally designed accommodation sleeps 10, with four individual cabins and communal dining area and lounge room. The island is a couple of acres in size with about 1000 penguin burrows on it. Watching as the penguins return to their burrows at dusk is one of the great attractions of staying overnight on the island.
There is also a small sandy beach on the western side of the island, providing a great spot for watching the sunset as well as the dolphins and seals that visit close to shore. This side of the island also has deep water with abundant abalone fish and crayfish meaning you can cast a line or even snorkel around the island.
You can only access the island by boat or Aqua Taxi and there are limited power and resources with the housing running off solar power with backup generators and rainwater tanks.
During your stay on the island, there are multiple ways to make the most of your idyllic surroundings.
Enhance your Picnic Island stay
Wineglass Bay Cruises
One of the best ways to take in the sights and history of the Freycinet Peninsula is by taking a cruise around the coast. Giving you a unique perspective of the Freycinet Peninsula’s sheer granite cliffs, sea caves and hidden coves Wineglass Bay Cruises take you from Coles Bay, you’ll stop for lunch at Wineglass Bay and enjoy a ploughman’s lunch of delicious Tasmanian produce prepared by the Head Chef at Freycinet Lodge. Keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and migrating whales. If you’re interested in the history and natural heritage and ecosystems of the area, the local skipper will be a wealth of knowledge.
All 4 Adventures
While staying on Picnic Island you should venture out to explore the Freycinet National Park. Most commonly known for the beach at Wineglass Bay, the park is a wild, rugged combination of beautiful granite mountains, lush bushland and the still blue water and crisp white sands of secluded bays. There are multiple walks you can take through the park, but if you want to reach the most secluded points in the park, you’ll need a 4WD or for something a little different, you can take a quad bike tour with ALL4Adventure. Add Bluestone Bay to your bucket list - a quiet cove within the park that is not easily accessible. Named for its characteristically blue boulders, the bay is surrounded by spectacular cliffs and lined with smooth boulders.
Another way to experience Freycinet National Park is by water. Freycinet Adventures offer guided sea kayak tours and Aqua Taxi transfers into the heart of Freycinet National Park. Tours depart from the town of Coles Bay at the foot of the Hazard Mountain Range meaning you’ll be surrounded by the clear waters of Great Oyster Bay and the Tasman sea when you set off on your kayaking adventure. Tours run year round and no prior experience is necessary. They even provide warm jackets. There are both day tours and expedition tours to choose from.
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