Birdgehls Cruise Review

LC from Birdgehls joined us for a cruise recently, it was such a pleasure to meet her and she has written a beautiful, and comprehensive review.  She has also taken some beautiful pictures!  If you’d like to view it in all it’s pictorial glory, please click here;  otherwise, you can read an excerpt below…


“The Freycinet Peninsula on the Schouten Passage II

Arriving at Coles Bay at around 9.30am after a lazy drive from nearby Swansea, I was checked in and boarding the boat fifteen minutes later. Luck was on our side where the weather was concerned – it was one of those perfect sunny autumn days, with not a cloud in the sky.

The Schouten Passage II has the capacity to carry 150 passengers, both on the main deck (the Vista Lounge) and within its premium Sky Lounge, located upstairs. I was quite happy downstairs, sitting outside and soaking up the fresh air and sunshine, pottering off to licensed bar for a snack or a glass of vino, if the urge overtook me (which it did, after lunch).

Everyone has different interests, but I was on this cruise for three reasons: the scenery, the food and to see some of Tasmania’s diverse marine life. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long to see a return for two out of the three.

Rubbing shoulders with Tasmania’s marine life

As we were leaving Coles Bay, the crew were quick to point out a couple of White-bellied Sea Eagles, perched on a nearby tree. As we watched, two other eagles flew into their territory and the four engaged in what was basically an airborne brawl. This as we were told by the skipper, was a rare sight indeed. We circled back to watch the fight, continuing on our way once the original pair had secured their territory and settled back onto their tree.

Later on in the journey, we stopped to check out a gigantic sea eagle nest, that had reportedly been around for nine seasons. Tom, one of the crew members told us that it was roughly 12ft deep and 8ft wide. White-bellied sea eagles are a protected species within Tasmania and their numbers are slowly rising. Sightings of the birds (and other marine animals) are recorded by the crew, with figures sent to the nature conservation branch in Tasmania.

It wasn’t long until we came face to face with another local sea bird, the Black-faced cormorant, a species which is endemic to the southern coastline of Australia. We were told it is the only true marine cormorant in Australia and is also known as a shag, making it responsible for the saying “As wet as a shag on a rock”. Learn something new every day, you do.

During the explanation, an age old question was answered for me, as it was explained why cormorants tend to perch near large bodies of water, spread their wings and soak up the sunshine. As it turns out, they have to dry their wings out regularly, as their feathers lack the natural oils of other seabirds, which make them waterproof. You’d think that would have been something evolution would have taken care of – poor little cormorants!

As we headed out towards the Tasman Sea, we were greeted by a pod of common dolphins, who gleefully fell in line with the boat. It wasn’t the first or last time, with both common and bottle-nosed dolphins cruising in to say hello to all on board.

Shortly before we reached Wineglass Bay, the crew took us as close as possible to a rock that was a popular hangout point for Australian fur seals. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen seals in the wild, so this was particularly exciting. They are such funny animals.

We’d been out on the water for a couple of hours by now and were nearing Wineglass Bay. We rounded a corner, the splendour of the beach spreading out before us. Even from the water you could see how perfectly, blinding white the sand was (I was glad for my sunnies). The sea itself was crystal clear. The bay deserves the rap it gets and then some.

Despite the fine weather, the beach was relatively empty with maybe ten or so people wandering down its shoreline. It’s a very quiet and peaceful place.


Food for thought at a later date – now was the time for eating. Lunch was a Ploughman’s Platter of local produce, prepared by the head chef at Freycinet Lodge. And oh my, was it delicious! There wasn’t a single morsel of food on that platter that I wouldn’t write home about. The cheese and fresh Tasmanian smoked salmon were a particular highlight.

After lunch was served, I grabbed a glass of wine and lounged around in the sun, engaging in conversation with some of the other passengers before the boat about turned and started to head home.”

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