Wineglass Bay Sail Walk, Tasmania: Luxury sail tour

Imagine an adventure holiday where  you climb several challenging peaks on impossibly picturesque islands and stroll some of Australia's most spectacular sandy beaches. 

Consider a cruise on a 75-foot luxury yacht that sails alongside pods of dolphins off the Tasmanian coast and offers ensuite cabins with double beds, bathrooms and five-star facilities. With the chance to learn how to sail and maybe even take the wheel. 

Or maybe think about a gourmet journey that features fresh Tasmanian produce, cheeses, wines and boutique beers.

Perhaps a nature trek on which you can get up close and personal with Tasmanian devils, wombats, Cape Barren geese, sea eagles, the fur seal colony on the Isle de Phoques and maybe, if you are really lucky, a humpback whale or two along the journey. 

All these elements are part of the  Wineglass Bay Sail Walk, launched last spring  by the Tasmanian Walking Company, the people behind the Bay of Fires and Cradle Mountain Huts walks. 

The itineraries feature four- and six-day trips taking in Maria Island, Schouten Island and Wineglass Bay/the Freycinet Peninsula off the east coast of Tasmania. The longer cruises also take in the Tasman Peninsula.  Both trips start and end in Hobart.

Unlike most multi-day walks, where you carry your earthly belongings in a large backpack each day, you only have to walk your gear in or out once – all your equipment can be stored in your cabin for the duration of the trip and you need only take a day pack and some water with you as you climb. 

But having sailed on the maiden Wineglass Bay Sail Walk of the Lady Eugenie, I can confirm this is not a holiday for dilettantes, or those who think walking the dog for 20 minutes a day keeps them perfectly fit. 

There are some steep, arduous climbs on the agenda, including the 630-metre Bishop and Clerk peak on Maria Island (which involves some scrambling at the top), and a 9-kilometre climb up Mount Graham, a  six to seven hour round-trip for the fitter members of the group. The landscapes range from rocky outcrops to button grass heathland and blue gum forests. 

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For the less energetically inclined there are myriad options, ranging from exploring Maria Island's convict history to beach strolls, wildlife spotting to fishing from the deck for flathead or squid, listening to music on the ketch's Bose sound system, or maybe just enjoying some solitude with a book while the wind ruffles your hair. 

This is a holiday break that is all about options. You can decide each morning whether you feel like walking, a day afloat or even just exploring Wineglass Bay, one of the most beautiful in the world, with its opportunities to search for orchids, bird watching, photography or maybe a dip in the chilly waters, where you may be accompanied by inquisitive dolphins. 

The 20-year-old Lady Eugenie boasts two decks where you can relax and enjoy maybe a platter of Tasmanian cheeses at the end of the day, or perhaps an espresso from a new Italian machine in the fully equipped galley. Not your average walking experience. 

All meals on board are of restaurant standard – breakfasts with cereals, yoghurt and toast from Hobart's Pigeon Whole Bakery followed by spicy beans and chorizo served with herb muffins. 

Or a dinner  of potato and leek soup with crumbed fetta, toasted almonds, pangrattato and truffle oil; confit pork belly from leading Hobart butcher Boks with apple puree, red-onion pickle and herbed polenta (served with a choice of salads) and panna cotta with fresh strawberries and berry coulis. 

Then there's the wine list, with  choices  from leading Tasmanian labels including Apogee, Goaty Hill, Spring Vale,  Josef Chromy's Pepik, Pipers Brook and Holm Oak, or a cooling ale from Cascade or James Boag, with micro brews soon to be introduced. 

One of the highlights of the trip is a beach supper  with freshly shucked oysters, crayfish pate and barbecued Tasmanian salmon served with vintage Apogee bubbles. Life just doesn't get any better.  Or maybe it did when a mother whale and her offspring decided to breach just a couple of hundred metres from our craft – providing a good hour of sunset entertainment.  

A warning or two: make sure you do not over-estimate your fitness. What can be described as a moderate climb may turn out to be a vertical hike. And make sure you take your seasickness tablets. For three days of our trip the waters were mill-pond like. The other day they were not. Which either adds to or detracts from your experience depending on how good a sailor you are. 

 Everything is included in the fares; you don't need to put your hand in your pocket from the time you depart to your return to Hobart. Other than to retrieve your camera, that is.  

TRIP NOTES 

MORE INFORMATION 

wineglassbaysailwalk.com.au

Phone 03 6392 2211

GETTING THERE

All of the major airlines operate frequent flights between Sydney and Melbourne and Hobart. qantas.com.au; virginaustralia.com;  jetstar.com;  tigerair.com.  

TOURING THERE

The Wineglass Bay Sail Walk operates with a maximum of eight or 10 guests in five cabins on board the 75-foot ketch Lady Eugenie, all with private showers, toilets and power points. A four-day Wineglass Bay Sail Walk starts from $2990 per person, while the six-day itinerary starts from $3990 on a twin-share basis.

The writer was a guest of the Tasmanian Walking Company.

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