The acclaimed British novelist Nicholas Shakespeare describes it as "the only trek".
"If asked by the right person to nominate one of my favourite spots on earth, I would pause and, in my mind's eye, take a breath of sea-air from a long deserted beach on the Freycinet Peninsula," he writes. "I would try and describe a walk on white sand, past an island lagoon flecked with black swans, along a wattle-shaded track impressed by the pawmarks of wombats and devils, to a lodge concealed in the trees."
Inspired by Shakespeare to reflect upon the same place, I would choose the low-wooded hill behind the lodge where startled echidnas burrow their noses into sand along George's Walk. The honey-scents of the flowering kunzea are caught on a chill breeze and, from the fossil-rich ridgeline of Mount Mary, white horses can be seen frothing along the shores of Saltwater Lagoon.
There's not a human in sight.
Then you turn around and remember that you are not alone in this bewitching Eden.
A small posse of walkers share the Freycinet Experience Walk: 10 guests and two guides setting out from Friendly Beaches Lodge each day to amble north and south along the Freycinet Peninsula. The journey takes in celebrated Wineglass Bay but that's just a drop in the ocean on an east coast Tasmanian odyssey that lasts four days.
The lodge-based walk covers coastal terrain, sclerophyll forests, white beaches and granite mountains, pathways that have been trodden for at least 20,000 years. Sun-bleached oyster shells as big as dinner plates poke out of dunes as the here-and-there testimony of Australia's first inhabitants.
Joan Masterman, co-founder and owner of The Freycinet Experience, is a much more recent arrival. Masterman is widely regarded as the matriarch of nature-tourism in Tasmania having brought new meaning to wilderness with her former business partner, architect Ken Latona, by developing a sustainable commercial operation within a national park. That was 25 years ago.
My arrival, as first-timer, brings with it a cold front. "If the weather is bad in Tasmania," quips one of the guides, "come back in five minutes."
Not this time: it pours implacably for the whole of Day One. It's really cold as we are dropped by motorboat at the southern end of Great Oyster Bay – just past the eagle's nest stuck like a marooned life-raft in a towering gum tree – to begin the walk from Bryan's Beach to Wineglass Bay. Waters that once ran the colour of wine (from the blood of slaughtered whales) remain irrepressibly blue even under sulky grey skies. Short breaks under a dripping tarpaulin make the wet bearable with a heaven-sent quinoa, feta, roast vegetable salad for lunch (carried in light backpacks).
The weather varies with the landscape and the wildlife but, by the third day, it's radiant on the 12-kilometre trek from Bluestone Bay to Freshwater Lagoon. Only walkers on the Freycinet Experience use this hidden path (with permission granted by the Freycinet National Park). Boots must be scrubbed in a rock pool at the starting point, a "cleansing of the soles", to prevent spores of root-rot from killing fields of giant grass tree (xanthorrhoea).
We are led into a rare wildness with the exuberant guides sprinkling surprises like confetti. Lunch has already been laid on a shaded bush table along the trail. And later, another spell is cast, when the guides suggest silence. It's shameful to speak when there is a symphony of winds through the she-oaks accompanied by a chorus of yellow-tailed black cockatoos.
The formula for discovery of wilderness "with a light step" sprung from the first hut-based guided walk along Tasmania's Overland Track (Cradle Mountain) founded by Masterman and Latona in the late 1980s. This opportunity attracted a new type of tourist to Tasmania: those keen to explore "the wilds" but with privacy and comfort.
So it is that we are not crouching under canvas or sleeping on creaking camp beds at base camp. At the invisible Friendly Beaches Lodge – a masterpiece of art and architecture all on its own – there are hot showers, beds with linen, composting toilets as fresh as a Palazzo Versace bathroom.
Two humbly furnished buildings contain eight wood-panelled sleeping chambers. Sounds of the natural world seep through the floorboards and permeate dreams. The big square windows frame an artists' landscape of casuarinas, tea tree and banksias. On the walls, there are more artworks by prominent Tasmanian artists like Richard Wastell, Helen Wright, Tim Burns and Ricky Maynard. In the library, there are books to delight and captivate.
The main lodge bustles with two young cooks who work in the small open kitchen to bring the best local produce to guests who quickly become friends. Dehydrated potato will do in the bush but give me an eye-filet with celeriac mash or a freshly caught flathead with tomato and mango salsa any day. There's the walnut/ fennel/orange salad; the vanilla bean panna cotta with fresh berries; and the oozing chocolate brownies. I need not go on.
And anyway, the last word in any conversation should always go to Shakespeare.
"I've sent a lot of people to Friendly Beaches, including Hylton Murray-Philipson, the environmental adviser to both the Dalai Lama and Prince Charles," Shakespeare says. "They all come back saying the same thing: 'It's truly one of the greatest experiences of your life'."
Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin operate multiple daily flights between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Hobart.
The four-day guided walk (departs Hobart) runs from October to April. It includes transfers from Hobart, three nights accommodation at Friendly Beaches Lodge, meals, guided walk, boat trips, park passes, pack and jacket use, from $2400 per person; see freycinet.com.au
In Hobart, The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel is within easy walking distance of key attractions including Salamanca Place, historic Battery Point and Constitution Dock for the ferry to MONA. See oldwoolstore.com.au
Anabel Dean was a guest of Tourism Tasmania and The Freycinet Experience.