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The Great East Coast of Tasmania

Travelers Today       By    David Thompson

Updated: Dec 19, 2022 06:48 AM EST

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The Great Eastern Drive on Tasmania's East Coast, has a way of penetrating your spirit and altering you for the better. 

Traveling to this extraordinarily beautiful region of the world is much more than just a vacation. It's a chance to pause, take a deep breath, and allow the serene surroundings, and slow pace, transform you.

When you travel along the Great Eastern Drive, you start a journey that includes kilometres of breath-taking coastline, amazing national parks, renowned beaches, award-winning treks, and phenomenal views. You have all the ingredients for the ideal vacation-vibrant towns, gorgeous vineyards, world-class mountain trails, delicious food & wine, and nonstop attractions.

For those who don't live locally, campervan hire in Tasmania is available from Hobart or Launceston. It is a perfect option to conveniently combine your transport and accommodation.

The Journey

The Great Eastern Drive runs between Orford in the south and St Helens in the north. With a distance of about 220 kilometres, this road trip can be completed in a timeframe as short as a weekend, or as long as you like, to take your time and enjoy!

You can begin your Great Eastern Drive journey in either direction. Follow the road's graceful twists across the open coast and Tasmanian wilderness, farmlands, beach villages, and wine country.

Explore the region's renowned national parks while taking breaks at some of the best beaches in the world. Visit cellar doors to taste award-winning cool climate wines and sample delicious local produce. As you travel along the coast, take in the infinite views of the vast, blue ocean as you travel inland to visit valleys, waterfalls, and mountains.

As a starting point for your journey, we've compiled some recommendations starting at Orford. However, if you're in the state's northern region, you can simply take the same journey backwards, beginning in St Helens.

Orford

Your first sight of the stunning beaches along the east coast, such as Raspins, Millingtons, Spring, and Rheban, will be in Orford. Take a stroll, go swimming, or enjoy some of Orford's fantastic hikes, such the coastal path connecting Shelley and Spring beaches or the former convict route that runs alongside the Prosser River.

Before making the 10-minute drive north to Triabunna, stop in for a meal or a snack at the Blue Waters Hotel or Scorchers Pizza in town, and pay a visit to Darlington Vineyard for an opportunity to sample superb east coast wine.

Triabunna

Triabunna's ancient buildings can be seen on a self-guided tour, or you can wander along the seafront on Pelican's Walk. Additionally, you can stop by the Tasmanian Seafarer's Memorial and the visitor centre to observe the collection of tapestries that illustrate the town's evolution and culture. Be sure to visit Spring Bay Seafoods for a taste of organic, fresh mussels and scallops from the east coast, the Fish Van for crisp fish and chips or wonderful coffee, and The Colonial for fresh seafood.

Maria Island

Photo by cassandra correa on Unsplash
(Photo : cassandra correa on Unsplash)

Triabunna serves as the departure point for the Maria Island National Park. You can easily day trip to the island, where you will visit the Darlington convict probation station, which is listed as a World Heritage Site, go on short walks to the Painted Cliffs and Fossil Cliffs (1-2 hours roundtrip), or enjoy longer walks to the summit of Bishop and Clerk (3-5 hours roundtrip) or Mount Maria (6-7 hours return). 

To tour the national park and observe its historic sites, scenery, and wildlife, you can rent a bike on the island. Due to the protected nature of the island, wildlife here is abundant. You will no doubt see wombats casually strolling across the landscape enjoying the green pastures, not to mention the adorable pademelons and potoroos.

Swansea

The 40-minute trip from Triabunna to Swansea in the north offers stunning views of Maria Island and Great Oyster Bay. Add some extra time to your schedule if you want to stop and snap pictures along this section of the route or if you want to make side trips to Little Swanport, picturesque Mayfield Bay, or Nine Mile Beach, which is close to Swansea. 

Both the convict-built Spiky Bridge and the delicious Kate's Berry Farm, just south of Swansea, are worth a visit. At Kate's Berry Farm, you can select your own fruit when it's in season and indulge in hand-crafted chocolates, ice creams, and scrumptious meals in the Just Desserts Café.

Continue to savour the flavours of Swansea's cafés and restaurants, such as the Saltshaker Restaurant on the waterfront or Tellers Wine Bar or sample the fresh seafood at Oyster Bay Seafoods in the heart of the city. Treat yourself to an evening at the superb restaurant at Piermont Resort (and perhaps book a stay in one of the resort's lovely stone cottages) for a luxurious, gourmet dining experience. Spend some time exploring Swansea's shops, cafes, and galleries, such as the Artifakt Gallery and Café and the Bark Mill Museum. You can also stop by the Bark Mill Tavern and Bakery for a nice snack or light lunch.

Freycinet National Park 

Photo by Lochlainn Riordan on Unsplash
(Photo : Lochlainn Riordan on Unsplash)

On the outskirts of Freycinet National Park sits the bustling beach community of Coles Bay. From here, you may fully benefit from a variety of outdoor activities, including guided hikes, quad riding, sea kayaking adventures, fishing charters, and beautiful flights. 

Take in the picture-perfect vistas of the peninsula from Wineglass Bay Lookout or explore the national park's many walking paths and beaches. If you have the time, plan to spend a couple of days here, there is a lot of nature to take in and appreciate. 

Coles Bay is home to some amazing restaurants, such as the Bay Restaurant or Richardson's Bistro at Freycinet Lodge, which is located within Freycinet National Park. Coles Bay also offers lovely beaches, including Muir's and Richardson's Beach.

Bicheno

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
(Photo : David Clode on Unsplash)

There are some fantastic animal encounters around Bicheno, in addition to the local species you're sure to witness as you stroll through the area's national parks and cruise the coastline. To witness Tasmanian devils and other local animals, visit Natureworld Wildlife Sanctuary, located five minutes' drive north of Bicheno, or reserve a spot on the daily Bicheno Penguin Tour or Devils in the Dark tours. Join a trip in a glass bottom boat to get a peek of life beneath the sea's surface.

The famous Bicheno Blowhole is not to be missed, not only is the natural geyser a treat to watch, but the views of the sunrise and sunset are a joy to behold from this spot too.

Bicheno offers a wide variety of lodging options, as well as excellent dining establishments, such as the Sea Life Centre for local seafood, Pasini's Wine Bar and Deli, and Blue Edge Bakery. If you're in the area in November, don't miss the Bicheno Food and Wine Festival, an annual celebration of east coast produce, wineries, chefs, and gourmet food producers. The Farm Shed Bicheno has the largest collection of regional wines, gins, and whiskeys on the coast. 

While you're there, spend some time looking through the galleries and stores in Bicheno, strolling along the foreshore walks, and relaxing on one of the area's uncrowded beaches.

St Helens

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
(Photo : David Clode on Unsplash)

Known for the Bay of Fires, this adorable little town boasts pristine beaches and picture-perfect panoramas. The flame-coloured granite blocks that fringe the coastline, are brightly coloured by lichens, and one of the unique features of the Tasmanian east coast.

In the summer, you can take the opportunity to enjoy the crystal-clear water, but in other seasons, you will undoubtedly enjoy the serenity, views and several lovely local restaurants.

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Hotels.com Loved By Guests Awards 2018

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