When I received a group chat message on Facebook, from a girlfriend suggesting we book a private, luxury eco island in Tasmania which also happens to moonlight as a penguin and shearwater rookery for the 4 days over Australia Day, I threw everything into my suitcase at once and said “When are we going?!”

 

Picnic Island is a private island located in the Freycinet National Park and is neighbour to of one of the most famous and “Instagrammable” places on earth – Wineglass Bay. It’s backdrop is the pink granite Hazards mountain ranges and the vast expanse of water ocean surrounding it houses an under water forest and bustling eco system. If that’s not cool enough to make you visit, then please, let me go on…

 

Picnic Island is on the East coast of Tasmania, a short water taxi ride from Coles Bay and a very pretty 3 hour drive from Hobart (with plenty of wineries you can visit (responsibly) along the way)! A water taxi took us to and from the island (which we had booked in advance).

 

Coles Bay, Tasmania
Coles Bay sits on the Freycinet Peninsula, beneath the pink granite Hazards mountain ranges.

 

I knew we were in for a treat when I sent Picnic Island a message on Instagram, prior to the trip. Introducing myself, I asked about the water temperatures to see if wet suits would be needed. They promptly responded (no wet suits needed for this time of year, plus they have some there as well as other snorkeling equipment) and then, having read I was an artist, proceeded to share the details of the artists of whom have their work displayed at Picnic Island… Even going to the extent of sending me these artist’s Instagram accounts! Attention to detail is high on their values list and I loved it!

 

Picnic Island Accommodation
The 5 star relaxed luxury accommodation is cladded in copper panels and made from local materials.

 

The Accommodation: Was delightful! A perfect mix of relaxed luxury. Our copper cladded accommodation was welcoming, warm and comfortable. The bedrooms hugged the shoreline of the island so we woke up to the lapping of water on the rocks, just below our walkway; while we went to sleep with the bedroom doors open to the stars in the night’s sky. The kitchen and living area is separate to the bedrooms as is the bathroom and toilets.

NB: The bathroom and kitchen use water from the rainwater tank, as do the water composting toilets. 10 people, 2 toilets and 1 bathroom sounds hectic but we somehow performed a Christmas miracle and it worked seamlessly. Shower times were kept to maximum of 4 minutes per person which just meant we had more time… to eat cheese.

Speaking of cheese… We ate a lot of it! We spent mornings and dinners around the long, wooden kitchen table, preparing our meals* (*cheese and grazing platters) and relaxed from the days on the honey leather lounge in front of the “aerial” fireplace, which looked out over the bay towards the mainland. A bit of trivia for you, when they were building Picnic Island, they found a sandstone rock, which is a small symbol of Australia’s convict history, left behind some 200 years ago, when Picnic Island was mined for sandstone. It sits beneath the fire place and has markings from the convicts’ picks all those years ago.

 

Picnic Island Sunset
Picnic Island sunset – January 2019

 

Island Living: Was bliss! The island is tiny (you can easily do a lap of it… a brisk walk would take you under 2 minutes – I know this because I timed it!). We spent some of our time on the island and other days, doing more intrepid activities (more on those to come!).

 

On the island: We did all sorts of things! Remember Picnic Island is a tiny oasis in a large body of water so we snorkeled the underwater forests which surround the island. An untouched world and eco system of sea plants, seaweed varieties and fish exists just below the surface and is a wonderland! The water was fresh, pristine and cleansing and as I found my way back to the shoreline, I remember thinking “WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!”

 

In the mornings, we set our alarms for the crack of dawn and sleepily made our way up to the highest part of the island, watched the sun wake up our part of the world as it rose behind the Hazard mountain ranges and contemplated life (as well as sleep!) In the afternoons we would gather in the kitchen to either talk, play a board game, teach a drawing class or prepare dinner, interrupted only by the suggestion to watch the sunset over the horizon.

 

It’s not everyday you get to share an island with penguins and shearwaters (it is a rookery) and we felt incredibly honoured to have done so. Using the light sensored torches provided by Picnic Island and being respectful to their habitat, we were able to watch the migration of penguins and shearwaters at night time, from safety of the grated walking paths around the island. Pretty blooming special!

 

Abseiling and Rock Climbing
The ropes course I did in highschool, didn’t come back to me. This time I actually had to listen to what the instructor was saying!

 

Off the island: I felt nothing short of intrepid! Four of us decided we would go abseiling down the Whitewater Wall sea cliff face which also turned into rock climbing back up the giant (taking both me and my un cut finger nails by surprise!) Our instructor (who can only be described as a weapon when it comes to all things climbing, abseiling and ropes (#thankful) stopped me as I was stepping off the edge of the cliff and said, “Don’t forget to stop half way down and a look over your shoulder. You need to take in everything you see and feel”. Dutifully, I did what I was told and the only way I can describe it is like this:

“As I precariously dangled at a 90 degree angle to the cliff’s face by a rope I looked over my shoulder only to see a coastline of rugged terrain and an overwhelming expanse and body of deep blue, ocean water. The only sound I could hear was the echo of waves crashing beneath me and the frenzied hollow voice of the wind. I felt insignificant and vulnerable and yet at the same time completely at ease and calm. It was exhilarating!”

 

Whitewater Wall, Tasmania
No biggie, we abseiled down and rock climbed up this giant!

 

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania
A view from “The Lookout” of one of the most Instagrammable places on earth – Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

 

The adventures extended to walking a few short trails in the Freycinet National Park (including “The Lookout” which overlooked Wineglass Bay) and picnicking at Honeymoon Bay – a bay within Coles Bay and a bay where we (I) dialed up my narcissism and morphed into an Instagram “influencer”, much to the amusement of myself and my girlfriends. Honeymoon Bay is breathtaking and has some of the most pristine water/ bays I have ever visited. I’m not one for comparisons but it gives the Isle of Capri a run for it’s money!

 

Honeymoon Bay, Freycinet National Park
Quite possibly one of the most beautiful places I think I will ever have the luxury of seeing on this earth!

 

In saying that, there is something special in the water in Tasmania. To say it cleanses or heals feels like a mockery and doesn’t do it justice. My observation of it is this, where it sparkles, eyes twinkle and where it glistens, eyes gleam. It kisses your skin, enlivens your spirit and lets the good times seep in.

 

Australia's native flora on the trail to "The Lookout"
The Lookout trail walk is short and very achievable hosting a stellar view of Wineglass Bay. It is also shows off some of Australia’s native flora.

 

Other Things: We frequented the Coles Bay Ice Creamery which specialises in providing Tasmanian ice-cream, waffles and freshly roasted coffee, a welcomed reprieve on a hot Summer’s day. It’s also fresh and DELICIOUS!

One of the things I didn’t do but intend to do next time, is practice my Yoga on the naked timber pontoon which sits just off the shoreline from Picnic Island. We also  intended to do a bushwalk to Wineglass Bay but the water conditions weren’t ideal for a water taxi to take us to Hazards Beach – just another reason to go back!

 

Everything about this 4 day mini break felt warm in my heart. To share an entire island with 10 friends (plus a baby), penguins and shearwaters, convict history, all within the Freycinet National Park which is home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders was luxurious. Being around my friends and their enthusiastic souls was equally so. However, having my energy recharged for my body to feel light and energised and my “wonder” stimulated was perhaps the most luxurious of them all.

Take a trip to Tassie, it might just be your best time yet!

 

Picnic Island Illustration
Inspired by the Australian flora and fauna, I created this coat’s design and textiles.

 

Over and out! xo

 

About Penelope

I’m a fashion illustrator, designer, storyteller and ambassador who helps brands in the fashion, lifestyle and travel industries, build brand recognition, credibility, loyalty, and trust whilst offering a fresh perspective.

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