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How do you imagine your oceanside holiday? Would you stay in a hut suspended over the sea or in a yurt perched high in the hills above unimaginably tall cliffs?
I would definitely be happy to stay in either of those options if I ever had the chance, but given my beach holiday was in Tasmania (and in winter too) it wasn’t likely to happen there. What I did find, though, was the Boathouse at Bicheno Hideaway. And you know what? I reckon it was every bit as good as a hut or a yurt would have been.
My first reaction when stepping into our humble abode was that it looked exactly like the photos. It’s not often you can say that about anything when you’re travelling, as photos always seem to represent an idealised version rather than what you’ll actually see when you get there. In the boathouse, though, we walked into an arched living room, as spacious as any I’ve ever had, that was glowing orange from the crackling fire in the middle of the room. Having just stood out on the beach while strong winds whipped around us, that blazing fire was exactly what we needed.
Had we not had a pretty busy itinerary planned for our time on the east coast, it easily would have been the perfect place to kick back and relax for a couple days. Not only could we all spread out as much as we wanted — between four of us we had three bathrooms and a bedroom to spare — but if we needed to get out of the house, we had our own patio that looked out on the wooded foreshore and had its very own soundtrack of waves breaking on the shore.
Barely 30 meters beyond that patio was our own private entrance to the beach. While it was a rocky beach and the water wasn’t exactly the right temperature for a dip in the ocean, it was still fantastic to be so close…especially since those rocks were covered in orange lichen and thus gave us our own little ‘Bay of Fires’ experience. Also, as a photographer, it makes it so much easier to get up and ready for a sunrise photoshoot when I know I literally just have to walk out the back door!
This rocky beach also provided a backdrop for one of the most memorable moments of our trip. As soon as we got out of our car, we realised just how little ambient light there was around the Boathouse. Since we were outside of Bicheno (which isn’t exactly a metropolis, given its population is 853), the Boathouse seemed to be the only source of light in the area. Step away from that and onto the beach and you have absolutely perfect stargazing conditions.
From my experience, the sky rivalled only Lake Tekapo (which has been declared a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve for its consistently clear skies). The sheer number of stars above us was unbelievable. The Milky Way was clearly visible with the naked eye, and it was hard to pick out specific constellations because of the number of extra stars in them that we weren’t used to seeing.
Most mind-blowing of all, though, were the shooting stars. We could look at any section of the sky and within 30 second spot either a shooting star or a satellite flying across the sky. I was lucky enough to capture the biggest shooting star of the night in my first photo of the evening — and it was big enough to make all of us simultaneously point and yell, “WHOA!!!” Never have I seen a meteor looking quite so fiery and large.
After sitting outside for so long — in the winter in Australia’s southernmost state — it was nice having a roaring fire waiting for us. I have to admit that I was a bit concerned about whether a house made of plywood could possibly retain its heat, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was certainly cool inside, but the combination of the fire and the space heaters in each room made it warm enough that, once I rugged up in thermals and crawled into my four-poster canopy bed, I was comfortable.
If I had to pick one thing that I didn’t enjoy about my trip, I’d have to say it was the resident rooster. I loved the fact that peacocks lived on the Bicheno Hideaway property — we even had one wander up our back stairs and sit on the porch with us for a while — but after the rooster crowed for 4 hours starting at 4.30am I just wanted to find him and shut him up! Luckily it meant that I was well and truly awake so I didn’t miss the sunrise over the ocean.
If you’re planning on heading down the east coast of Tasmania, I highly recommend spending a day (or three) at the Boathouse at the Bicheno Hideaway. Nick and Arabella, while on an overseas holiday during our stay, made sure that everything was ready for us and were very friendly when we spoke over the telephone.
Also, since Bicheno is a bit further away from Coles Bay and the Freycinet Peninsula (45 mins drive), it was a much better deal, and we loved having our own little slice of coastline. Staying there really was a highlight of our trip — and it’s not often I say that!
The Bicheno Hideaway is open year-round. The Boathouse costs $180/night in the winter for 2 people ($35pp extra) and $200/night ($35pp extra) in the summer. In the summer peak season there is a minimum stay of three nights.