History Through Names: The Wineglass Bay Edition

Have you ever wondered what fascinating tales the incredibly beautiful Freycinet Peninsula’s Wineglass Bay hides? Well, grab your virtual glass (or better yet, a real one) and join us on a journey to the enchanting Wineglass Bay. Together, we could hop on one of those Wineglass Bay cruises and discover the gripping stories that make this coastal gem so much more than just a pretty postcard.

How Freycinet Peninsula Got Its Name

Freycinet Peninsula in Wineglass Bay

Wineglass Bay is situated in the heart of Tasmania's East Coast, along the eastern side of the Freycinet Peninsula within the Freycinet National Park. This peninsula is located at the northern tip of Oyster Bay. For thousands of years, Aboriginal peoples like the Paredarerme or the Oyster Bay tribe had been living here.

Abel Tasman, the renowned Dutch seafarer, stumbled upon the Freycinet Peninsula back in 1642 while cruising along Tasmania's east coast. He called it Schouten Island, assuming it was part of a chain of islands. But the French explorer Nicholas Baudin set the record straight when he explored the area in 1802-03 and discovered that it was actually a peninsula. The Freycinet brothers were senior officials in Nicolas Baudin’s crew, but we're not sure which one the peninsula was named after.

What’s In The Name ‘Wineglass Bay’

If you think about it, Wineglassbay is the kind of a name that makes you imagine fascinating things – sparkles, wines, beaches, and so on. How enchanting!

On a Wineglass Bay and Freycinet National Park tour, when you finally see the bay, you will quickly conclude that it is indeed a Wineglass Bay. The crescent moon shore reminds you of the bottom of a fancy crystal wine glass. What a fitting name for such a serene spot, right?

Sorry to break your bubble. The unique shape of the beach is just one of the reasons for its name. There are also stories that feature sailors, gruesome killings, and carcasses. Excited?

Wineglass Bay attracted whalers with its sheltered location and the presence of abundant marine life. Why were these people after the harmless giants of the ocean? Whale blubber, the thick layer of fat beneath a whale's skin, was valuable as it could be 
rendered into a high-quality oil used for lighting lamps, lubricating machinery, and making soap. Whale bones were used for making corsets for women, which were in fashion then.

They set up temporary camps in the area and ventured out to sea in small boats to harpoon passing whales. Once the whale was caught, it was hauled ashore and butchered. The blood from this process would tint the water near the shore, gradually transforming the crescent beach into a striking spectacle that quite literally resembled red wine swirling in a glass.

This dark story is not what you had expected behind Wineglass Bay’s name, right? But, such is life. Whaling operations based on the shore went on for roughly two decades on the peninsula.

Naming The Mountain Range, Hazard A Guess?

Hazard Mountain Range Wineglass Bay

You must have seen the Hazards, the rose-tinted mountain range that stands tall between Wineglass Bay and Coles Bay. Did you know it has a connection with a whaler from the past? The mountain range gets its name from Captain Richard Hazard, a whaler of African-American descent.

Wineglass Bay Today

Penniccott cruise in Wineglass Bay

It is a happy-ending for the oceanic creatures of Wineglass Bay. There are no more whalers or sealers in Wineglass Bay. The bottom of the wineglass remains filled with soft blue waters, instead of the cruel red. Wineglass Bay has evolved from a hub of whaling and sealing into a symbol of natural beauty and conservation.

Visitors from around the world flock to drool over its pristine shores, hike the trails of Freycinet National Park, and revel in the bay's enchanting allure. While the bay's history is marked by violence and exploitation, it now stands as a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting our natural wonders for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. So, when you gaze upon Wineglass Bay, you'll not only see its stunning shape but also remember the stories that lie beneath its picturesque surface, stories of both beauty and darkness.