Tasmania’s dramatic natural beauty can be witnessed all along the East Coast. The drive alone makes this trip worthwhile as the road kisses everything from farmlands to the ocean, as it twists its way along an epic coastline. A self-driving holiday is the best way to appreciate the magnificent landscape and surroundings, and before you embark we are sharing with you seven essential stops you must make along the way. See our guide below to the best places to see on the East Coast of Tasmania.
Above Image Credit – Lisa Kuilenburg c/o Tourism Tasmania
THE SCENIC DRIVE
Expect a country drive through forests and farmlands for most of the way from Hobart to Bicheno. It is not until you reach the little town of Orford that you catch your first glimpse of water as you follow the meandering river into town; a beautiful little coastal town where you will take delight in your first glimpses of the ocean. If you are searching for somewhere to stretch your legs on the outskirts of Orford is a rest stop overlooking water multiple shades of blue with a mountainous backdrop.
Continuing along the coastal roads your eyes won’t know what direction to look as you are positioned between tree covered cliff faces and the sparkling ocean.
The Best Places to See on the East Coast of Tasmania.
Distance from Bicheno to Hobart – 2.5 Hours
Distance from Bicheno to Launceston – 2 hours 25 minutes
Bicheno gives the perception of a sleepy seaside town, but with numerous accommodation options and lots of activities, it attracts many visitors. We found it the perfect hub for exploring the best places to see on the East Coast of Tasmania.
We timed our arrival perfectly, basking in beautiful sunny weather and clear skies. With much to explore at Bicheno, we headed straight for the Bicheno Blowhole. Both adults and kids found the Blowhole alluring and waited patiently for the next wave to crash up through the rocks and cover them with the salty ocean water.
Bicheno is the first destination where we experienced the amazing rock formations that are iconic along this coast. Walk along the giant orange boulders exploring the rock pools finding starfish, crabs, and if you are like us a blue ring octopus.
When you are staying at a picturesque location, you normally want to make the most of the outdoors. Waubs Bay is the local beach, and its calm waters make it a popular location for swimmers. Another activity is to take a walk north to Redbill Beach or south to the blowhole along the foreshore path taking in the stunning scenery of iridescent waters and watching for animal life.
At dusk depart on a Penguin Tour where you discover interesting facts and get up close and personal with these adorable animals that call Bicheno their home.
2. COLES BAY
Distance from Coles Bay to Bicheno – 40 minutes
Distance from Bicheno to Hobart – 2 hours, 45minutes
Coles Bay is the main township on the Freycinet Peninsula and the best-known starting point to explore Freycinet National Park. The bay is bordered by the mighty granite peaks of The Hazards that tower 500m above the dazzling waters of Great Oyster Bay. These captivating mountain ranges are named after an American whaler, Albert “black” Hazard, captain of a whaling ship active in the area in the 1820s.
Coles Bay has an array of outdoor activities allowing you to see the pristine environment on a personal level; sea kayaking, cruising to Wineglass Bay, sailing, joining a fishing charter, scenic flights, swimming, bushwalking are to name a few.
3. HONEYMOON BAY
Have you heard of Honeymoon Bay in Tasmania? Just the name alone sparked our curiosity for this popular place, which is in Freycinet National Park. Once again, The Hazards stand proudly over the area and you are greeted by a rainbow of colours from the faint pink tint of the mountains to the turquoise blue waters lapping at your feet.
Honeymoon Bay is a surprise package as it is tucked away behind natural bushland. It is not until you reach the end of the bush path that it allows you to uncover the beauty before you.
Granted, we found the beach not as pristine as some on the east coast. However, that did not stop many visitors from enjoying their picnic or relaxing near the water. The main drawcard to this majestic place is the shallow crystal-clear bay where you can enjoy many water activities from swimming, snorkelling and kayaking.
Large granite boulders protect the turquoise bay, and the black shells you encounter in this area resemble clusters of solidified rocks. They are in fact scattered shells housing tiny sea creatures, and word of warning, it best to observe and watch your step as they are quite sharp.
4. FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK
A national park since 1916, covered with a wide variety of flora and fauna and home to the impressive Hazards range, Freycinet National Park is extremely popular as a bushwalking and camping destination.
Before you enter the National Park, stop at the Information Centre to buy a day pass. You will be provided with a map and the friendly staff share any information relating to how you would like to spend your day. The centre itself has many creative displays sharing the heritage and culture of the region, stocks a range of products to buy and has toilets before you start your journey.
Some of the national parks most beautiful areas can be seen on foot, and your visit can be as active or relaxing as you wish.
You will need to purchase a parking pass for entry into the national park, and there are hefty fines if you are caught without one. The money raised from the fees goes directly towards the upkeep of the parks and reserves. It is used to maintain and upgrade visitor facilities, walking tracks and information booths. The pass cost us $25 for the day for one car, and there are other options available on the National Parks and Wildlife WEBSITE.
Bushwalking Tips for Freycinet National Park
- Wear sturdy shoes,
- Bring a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses, a warm top and a waterproof
- Stock up on drinking water
The Freycinet National Park visitor centre has a vast amount of information on the walking tracks and camping sites if you are new to the area.
SEAFOOD LOVERS REJOICE
We had been recommended, and now we are recommending the Freycinet Marine Farm for a lunchtime stop. If you love seafood, we came across some of Tasmania’s finest along Coles Bay Road. The little tin shed serves up fresh & cooked oysters, mussels, prawns, lobsters, along with Tasmania beer and wine. The place was a hive of activity when we arrived and you know it’s going to be worth the wait when it’s a challenge to find a free picnic table. We were not disappointed, with our oysters being the cheapest and it’s a big call, but we feel the best we have eaten.
1784 Coles Bay Road, Coles Bay, Tasmania
5. CAPE TOURVILLE LIGHTHOUSE WALK
There are many incredible walks for all fitness levels and ages that you can enjoy while in Freycinet National Park. The Cape Tourville lighthouse walk is one of the more popular walks as it is child-friendly.
The wooden walkway has a slight incline up to the lighthouse and takes around 20 minutes to complete the circuit, but you no doubt will spend more time in this area savouring the views of Mt Graham, Mt Freycinet and Wineglass Bay, that you can see in the distance.
The lighthouse was erected in 1971 and was constructed as an automatic light, it stands at the very top of the walkway and can be reached via stairs.
This area is not only breathtaking above the water, but fascinating underneath. The information boards posted along the path share that underneath the sheer cliffs in the deep blue ocean sonar mapping of the seafloor has revealed the continental shelf drops a whopping 5000 metres!
6. BINALONG BAY
Distance from Binalong Bay to Bicheno – 1 hr 20 min
Distance from Binalong Bay to Launceston – 2.5 hours
Binalong Bay was a day trip between our drive from Bicheno to Launceston. We did have to detour out of our way, but it was worth the extra time. As we started travelling north of Bicheno, the roads started to flatten, and the hills move further away. You will come across many signs to off-road beaches along this untouched coastline with uninterrupted views of the ocean. As much as we would have liked to of visited each one, we always had our heart set on visiting the Bay of Fires area in the north-east.
Situated at the southern end of the Bay of Fires, Binalong Bay is a charming community of holiday homes and campsites concealed among the acacia trees fringing the coast. As many of the dwellings are hidden or few and far in-between, the area felt quite untouched.
We gave our girls the option of stretching their legs at the oceanside playground or having a swim at the beach. The beach won and we made our way with many others visitors to the swimming area in the centre of town. There are showers, change rooms and toilets near the parking area.
It is hard to believe something in nature looking so perfect. The sand at Binalong Bay was pristine & squeaked under your feet as you made your way through the powdery sugar. As you reach the ocean, your greeted with crystal clear waters of multiple colours. It was what we had come to expect from this coastline of Tasmania, yet on another level.
This beach had another major attraction. A flowing river meets the ocean waters via a wide stream its carved into the sand. Many people rode the river current down to the ocean water on floating rings and body boards or just enjoyed being pulled along with the current.
There is only one restaurant in Binalong Bay; if you are travelling with children, you will find more dining options at St Helens, 10 minutes drive away.
7. BAY OF FIRES
I originally thought the Bay of Fires was a one-stop destination, so I was surprised to learn it starts at St Helens Point and extends to Eddystone Point in the north stretching for over 50 kilometres.
Named by ‘Lonely Planet’ in 2009 as the world’s hottest travel destination it is well known all over the world as one of the best places to see on the East Coast of Tasmania.
The Bay of Fires lookout is at the end of Binalong Bay Road. It offers great photo opportunities of the contrasting landscape of granite boulders splashed with orange lichen against the brilliant blue waters. The unusual name was given to the area by Captain Tobias Furneaux, in 1773, when he saw the fires of the aboriginal people along the coast.
The journey to a destination can be just as rewarding, and this is what we found travelling to the Bay of Fires. The drive from Bicheno to the Bay of Fires was one of the nicest coastal drives with the road alongside the ocean for some of the trip offering magnificent views from the comfort of your car. There are many places to stop with lots of little beachside communities dotted all along this part of the east coast.
Since returning from the east coast of Tasmania we discovered it is a place that connects with people on many different levels, yet one thing is always certain it is a destination you will want to return to again and again.
TELL ME OF A DESTINATION YOU WOULD LOVE TO REVISIT!