It is the chilly, wintery days that make me dream of those sunny summer holidays scattered along the East Coast of Tasmania.
Although my childhood vacations were based in and around Coles Bay (a story for another day), it wasn’t until my late 20’s that the parents started venturing further along the Tasman.
Once they were minus the tents, tantrums and long drop toilet facilities (often associated with large/young family getaways), the luxury words of ‘shack’ or ‘rented accommodation’ and ‘beach house’ began making their way into our vocabulary.
And in my late twenties (and now with a little one child family of my own) one of these non-camping experiences found was in a little place I had never heard of hidden along Tasmania’s Tasman Peninsula – Sloping Main (or Slopen Main depending on who I speak too).
When first suggested, the title seemed amiss of a pristine beach promise. It is not the alluring name of a tropical island paradise nor does it carry the brand recognition of a tourist hot spot. So it seems to remain a little hidden pocket of paradise enjoyed by the locals and committed regulars.
The access is an easy drive into the Tasman, heading along the main Tasman Highway towards Port Arthur (about 90 minutes from Hobart). About 10km out from Port Arthur, you will find the turn off for Sloping Main.
Following the pleasant drive through scenic country and seaside, we found a place I wasn’t expecting.
A gorgeous little bayside area, which, at the time, was modestly and pleasantly filled with keen summer holiday makers including beach goers, boaters, kayakers and fishing folk.
The “main road” which runs parallel to the shore has a respectable number of shacks on either side. If you are lucky enough to stay on the beach side, access to the shore is merely a hop, skip and a jump.
Our rented ‘shack’ was one such spot. The light, bright and suitably beach themed accommodation fitted perfectly with the spectacular views of the waves rolling and crashing on the beach stretched out in front of the deck. The whole 20 metre (perhaps a slight exaggeration) stroll to the beach made this an incredibly relaxed and convenient stay.
The beach is big enough for sunset ambles but small enough to feel private and content. During summer, as it was, it is the postcard of white sand and blue skies displaying the perfect experience. Although with little shade on the beach an umbrella or two is always warranted in the scorching Tassie sun.
A few keen boaters can be found anchored close to shore, with many of the holiday makers, including myself, leisurely swimming to their vessel to explore the area from the sea. It sounds industrial but the boat owners seem conscientious of swimmers and there seems to be a balance in all activity.
It was here in the summer of 2012 I caught the fishing bug. Not that I had much success, but it was the beach and boat side fishing in a tranquil area, perfect blue water and a glass of wine at sunset, that provided the perfect setting for relaxation.
Exploring the coastline on water is a breathtaking way to view the area. We could see the jagged rocks along the shore and the prettiness of Lime Bay. We also ventured around Sloping Island – a place which seemed mostly populated by animals and birds (although my husband assures me there is a shed or two he saw). Occasionally we would break from the ride to throw a line in and see what we could catch.
The thing I enjoyed best about the area is that it seems quite innocent to the modern tourist spots but it has many factors that keep it in their league including natural beauty, privacy, safety and friendliness. The fact that it was my daughters first extended seaside getaway, added to the memorable and enjoyable break away.
My last minute thoughts are if you are worried about modern conveniences there is corner store a few kilometres from the main accommodation precinct. However we found the larger town of Nubeena provides a doctors surgery, supermarket, cafes, bakery and other fabulous beach spots about a 40 minute drive away. Or you could use your time wisely and head back into Port Arthur to see the sites.
If you want a family or friendship beachside getaway in Tassie, you should add this to your bucket list.
Perhaps it was the subconscious need for seeing the river that drew me to settling with the family in the little riverside area of Blackmans Bay.
Or perhaps it was our house that we knew was ours as soon as we walked in: the house which encapsulated two years of searching, that ticked the most boxes, that provided the charm, character and warmth of a family home.
Originally, convinced we needed to stay within city proximity I thought the drive “too far”. That with my husbands work hours and mine, it made sense to stay in the inner city suburbs. But the quiet riverside area captivated me and now adjusting to the “drive”, I laugh at my Tasmanian mentality that if something is more than 10 minutes drive it must be too far.
The drive into our street is framed by the sprawling River Derwent view which certainly provides a comfortable setting and peacefulness – often which is hard (although admittedly perhaps less so in Hobart) to replicate by inner city living.
The beach is more than a ‘nice place to visit’: it provides the crashing of waves rolling away as I fall asleep or the roar or the sea when the weather turns. This picturesque setting has the views, bayside walks and just the right balance of modernity with two restaurants that face out into the water.
You can see a light house on a little island which provides the perfect backdrop to the boats that come down the river. The cliffs that border and protect the beach seem oriented as though they are the still of a painting – perfectly jugged but sufficiently aesthetic to please even a critical eye. It is here on the beach, where Miss Two finds herself with bucket and spade for digging holes and building castles that always fall under her formidable, giggling hand. It is a pleasant quiet beach where we can play appreciatively in the outdoors (and of course finish the outing with a babycino treat to finish up).
Moving here at the start of winter, I’ve been fascinated by the changing seascape. From days where the skies have been black and angry to days the sun is bright and no cloud exists. The views seem a constant change that always makes me reflective and appreciative of this place.
When Miss Two is sleeping and I am able to escape, I find myself drawn to walking the cliff side paths and breathing in the saltiness so for just a moment I can forget about work and all the modern pressures.
It was here one day that I made another discovery, a blowhole hidden from the main drag and echoing all that blowholes do.
It was here that the little family parked one night to view the most impressive aurora we’d ever seen. We’d chased the big lights around Tinderbox, the suburb further up the road, to find this magical setting which, with the right camera (dam it) and the sights and sounds of the picteresque setting, was a truly an awesome way to view the green light show.
It was here we witnessed the monumental beauty of a mother whale and her baby play peacefully for hours much to the joy of the enthralled onlookers.
It is here I feel comfortable and content with making a riverside area home.