They say you shouldn’t play favourites but the Bay of Fires on Tasmania’s North-East is pretty speccy. Tasmanian Aboriginals know it, the camp fires set along the coastline by their ancestors inspired the name. It’s a favourite holiday spot for locals and is definitely on the tourist itinerary.
A few summers ago we spent a terrific few days at Binnalong Bay, exploring the area up to Eddystone Point. This year we had the two young people for three weeks during December and were looking for a change of scenery before Christmas arrived.
I wanted a breach and The Lovely Deputy wanted to try glamping. We were super-fortunate to get two tents at the fabulous Bay of Fires Bush Retreat about a month out. They’re booked solidly most of the time.
Tents not your preferred accommodation? Hold. Your. Horses.
Last year we did the Three Capes walk and enjoyed the architecturally designed huts and communal facilities at the track’s accommodation. We advised ‘I’m the Arty One’ and Skater Boy we’d be holidaying in fancy tents.
Tom and Anna operate the retreat and live on site. Tom showed us around when we arrived. When he pulled open the tent flaps the relief was palpable. Not only were the facilities contemporary and stylish, you didn’t need to crawl into these tents and we wouldn’t be sleeping on theramrests.
Glamping is luxury camping. You can stand straight up in the tents (in the middle) and they have beds. Really nice beds.
There in the middle of the giant tent was a beautifully made up bed. There were fluffy white towels, hot water bottles, a casual reading book, wine glasses and a jar of marshmallows for the campfire later that night.
The main building is the L-shaped communal area– kitchen, dining tables, comfortable seating and fire pits. The space is charcoal, oxidised metal, cement, timber and it’s open to the elements with giant louver-style walls that can be adjusted when the wind comes up.
A separate building houses modern, disability access toilets and shower rooms. A change room is separate from the shower bay so there is space, privacy and little risk of dropping your smalls on the wet floor.
You can bring your own food or they will cook for you. Tom is a chef and previously ran Drift in Devonport and Angasi in Binalong Bay. We decided to go easy on ourselves the night we arrived and had Tom cook for us. We enjoyed huge plates of Cape Grim beef medium rare, the largest plate of perfect Nicola roast potatoes and a plate of broccolini, nuts and seeds and a goats cheese dressing. A delicious, simple meal made from local produce, and great value, with enough leftovers for lunch. The next day, I spied the breakfast on offer courtesy of other guests and it included granola, yoghurt and their berries, and a bacon and egg rosti with Heidi Farm raclette cheese, and local sourdough fruit toast and jam.
We also took a great deal of food we enjoyed at our leisure. During our two nights, many people ordered their meals and although the kitchen was used, access was never an issue with everyone using the space in harmony. The key to communal areas is to clean as you go, minimise your mess and attend to your washing up as soon as you’re finished eating.
Apart from the novelty of staying in a luxury tent, the reason to stay at the retreat is that it offers a communal component. Getting to meet other people and fireside chats can be a really lovely addition to the experience. We found the cohorts on our two nights completely different. The first night had a few couples around our age and a couple of groups of younger people. Everyone was sociable and keen to interact. Skater Boy had just received his ATAR and got some well-timed advice from RMIT careers advisors and a local lad who was heading into his second year at UTAS.
Everyone got in on the act of marshmallow roasting and a few extra bottles of wine were purchased from the Retreat’s honesty-system bar.
The second night was a completely different vibe, more chilled, predominantly couples or small groups keen to hang out with each other.
We wanted to take it easy this visit to Binalong Bay and enjoy the facilities at the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat where we relaxed, read books and played card games. We did a short walk, went for a run and a swim and had a coffee at the local café. The free wifi meant there was always an entertainment source.
We noticed the cooler temperature on the second night. If you’re planning a winter glamp, pack your thermals.
The Bay of Fires Bush Retreat is located at the southern entrance to the Bay of Fires, 2 minutes drive to the township of Binalong Bay, and 10 minutes from St Helens.