COLES BAY, on the north edge of the Freycinet National Park, is a sheltered inlet with fishing boats moored in the deep-blue water, all set against the striking backdrop of The Hazards, three pink-granite peaks – Amos, Dove and Mayson – rising straight from the sea. Since the 1930s, the hamlet of Coles Bay has been the base for the park, and for fishing and recreation; it's also known (in Australia at least) as the first town to ban plastic shopping bags. There are numerous fishing shacks and holiday houses available to rent: Freycinet Rentals (Tel:03/6257 0320) has a wide selection on its books. Just 3.5km west of Coles Bay, The Edge of the Bay (Tel:03/6257 0102, Web: www.edgeofthebay.com.au ; Price: $201-250) has secluded, self-catering two-bedroom cottages set in bushland, or minimalist Japanese-style suites with water views; there are minimum stays and cheaper rates depending on season. There's also a swish restaurant (dinner nightly) and bar open to all. The Iluka Holiday Centre, in a great spot behind the Esplanade near Muirs Beach (Tel:03/6257 0115 or 1800 786 512, Web: www.ilukaholidaycentre.com.au ; dorms $28, rooms Price: $51–75, vans Price: $61-75, units Price: $76–130), has a wide variety of accommodation, including a YHA hostel section. Nearby is a small supermarket which doubles as a visitor centre and a garage with petrol, a pub with bistro meals and the excellent Freycinet Café & Bakery (daily 8am–7pm, till 5pm out of season), an eat-in bakery selling bread and pastries, and pizza from 5pm.
At the other end of the township, 1km from Muirs Beach overlooking The Hazards, there's another general store, Coles Bay Trading, on Garnet Avenue (daily 8am–6pm, until 7pm Dec 26– Feb; Tel:03/6257 0109), with payphones, a post office and a fuel pump. Its coffee shop has great views of The Hazards – when it's open. Next door you can get a wonderful seafood dinner at MadgeMalloy's (Oct– May dinner Tues– Sat; licensed; Tel:03/6257 0399), owned by a fishing family. For more general information, check out the excellent Web: www.freycinetcolesbay.com . Redline and TassieLink drop off 31km away from Coles Bay, at the turn-off on the Tasman Highway, connecting with the Bicheno Coach Service to Coles Bay (up to 3 daily; book for off-peak times on Tel:03/6257 0293), which can also take you right to the start of the walking tracks.