Plan your epic East Coast Tasmania road trip with this itinerary, including the top places to visit with or without kids.
Visiting Tasmania? A self-driving holiday is, without a doubt, the best way to appreciate the magnificent landscape and surroundings of Tasmania.
Tasmania’s dramatic natural beauty can be witnessed all along the east coast, and if you have time, there are many places to discover, and things to do.
The drive alone makes this trip worthwhile as the road kisses everything from farmlands to the ocean, as it twists its way along an impressive coastline.
With numerous incredible attractions in east coast Tasmania, it can be challenging to know which ones you shouldn’t miss. In this article, I share our experience visiting the East Coast of Tasmania and an itinerary for how you can spend your days.
Continue reading my East Coast Tasmania itinerary, so you don’t miss any of the gems along the way!
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Post was updated in December 2019
Featured Image: © Lisa Kuilenburg | Tourism Tasmania
Planning a Tasmania East Coast Drive
The journey can be just as rewarding as a destination, and this is what you’ll discover with this ultimate Tasmania road trip planner.
If time is precious, the below East Coast Tasmania travel guide is for two nights, three full days exploring the top sights and things to do on the East Coast of Tasmania. Before I go into detail about all the places to see, here’s a short overview.
- Day 1: Hobart to Bicheno (Exploring Bicheno)
- Day 2: Bicheno to Coles Bay (Freycinet National Park)
- Day 3: Bicheno to Binalong Bay to Launceston (Bay of Fires)
You will also find some additional suggestions below for must-see places on your Tasmania east coast road trip if you have more time.
Tasmania East Coast Itinerary
Day 1: Hobart to Orford
Distance from Hobart to Orford – 1 Hour
Stay – Bicheno
Follow an ever-changing coastline through forests and farmlands for most of the way from Hobart to Bicheno.
Your first glimpse of water will be the meandering Prosser River that follows the road until you reach the little town of Orford. Orford is a beautiful coastal town centred on the mouth of the Prosser River, and somewhere you can stretch your legs, grab a snack or lunch while taking in the multiple shades of blue ocean and Maria Island in the distance.
Orford to Bicheno
Distance from Orford to Bicheno – 1 hour 25 minutes
Continuing along the coastal road towards Bicheno, your eyes won’t know what direction to look as the car is nestled between tree-covered cliff faces and the glistening ocean.
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 place to stay for exploring the East Coast of Tasmania.
Things to do in Bicheno
1. Visit the Bicheno blowhole – We timed our arrival perfectly, basking in beautiful sunny weather and clear skies. There are many sights to explore in Bicheno, but the first attraction to tick off the list is a Bicheno Blowhole trip. 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 salty ocean water.
2. Explore the rock pools – Bicheno is the first (but certainly not the last) stop where you can witness the amazing rock formations that are iconic along this coast. Walk along the giant orange boulders stopping at the rock pools to discover starfish, crabs, and possibly even a blue ring octopus.
3. Swim at the beach – When you stay at a picturesque location, you usually want to make the most of the outdoors. Waubs Bay is the local beach, and its calm waters make it a popular place for swimmers.
4. Take a nature walk – Another activity is to 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.
5. Meet the local penguins – At dusk depart on a Fairy Penguin Tour where you discover fascinating facts and get up close and personal with these adorable animals that call Bicheno their home.
You May Also Like: Read the Ultimate Guide to Travelling Tasmania with Kids
Day 2: Bicheno to Coles Bay
Distance from Bicheno to Coles Bay – 40 minutes
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 Hazards’ mighty granite peaks 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.
Lunch Stop at Freycinet Marine Park
A Tasmanian road trip is not complete without stopping for some local cuisine. Seafood lovers will rejoice at Freycinet Marine Farm. We were recommended, and now I am 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 Tasmanian beer and wine. Freycinet Marine Farm was a consistent hive of activity, and you know it’s going to be worth the wait when it’s a challenge to find a free picnic table.
The oysters did not disappoint with them being the cheapest and the best we have eaten.
Coles Bay to Freycinet National Park
Distance from Coles Bay to Freycinet National Park – 10 minutes
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 visitor centre where you will be provided with a map and information about how you can spend your day. Inside the centre are many creative displays sharing the heritage and culture of the region. They also stock a range of products to buy and have toilet facilities before you start your journey.
TIP: You will need to purchase a national parks pass for entry into Freycinet National Park, and there are hefty fines if you are caught without one.
National parks pass – The money raised from the fees goes directly towards the parks and reserves upkeep. It is used to maintain and upgrade visitor facilities, walking tracks and information booths. The pass options available are 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
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.
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.
Must-See in Freycinet National Park
Cape Tourville Lighthouse – There are many incredible walks for all fitness levels and ages you can enjoy while in Freycinet National Park. The Cape Tourville lighthouse walk is one of the more famous trails 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 in the distance.
The lighthouse erected in 1971 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 seafloor’s deep blue ocean sonar mapping has revealed the continental shelf drops a whopping 5000 metres!
Have more time? For the most celebrated views in this area hike to the Wineglass Bay Lookout.
Honeymoon Bay – Have you heard of Honeymoon Bay? Just the name alone sparked our curiosity for this popular place, located 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 the beach.
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 allows you to appreciate the beauty before you.
Granted, the beach is not as pristine as some on the east coast. However, that does not stop many visitors from enjoying a 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.
Giant granite boulders protect the turquoise waters, and the black shells you encounter in this area resemble clusters of solidified rocks. These clusters are scattered shells housing tiny sea creatures, and word of warning; it best to observe and watch your step as they are quite sharp.
Day 3: Bicheno to Binalong Bay
Distance from Bicheno to Binalong Bay – 1 hour 20 minutes
If you are travelling from Bicheno to Launceston, you will need to make a detour to visit Binalong Bay, but I believe it is worth the extra time. Travelling north of Bicheno, the roads start to flatten, and the hills move further away. You will pass many signs to off-road beaches along this untouched coastline with uninterrupted views of the ocean.
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 between, the area felt entirely untouched.
Things to do in Binalong Bay
1. Enjoy a coastal walk – It is hard to believe something in nature looking so perfect, and these are the views you can experience on a hike to Skelton Bay or the top of Humbug Point reserve.
2. Snap a few pics – Skeleton Bay Reserve is at the end of Main Road. It offers excellent photo opportunities of the contrasting landscape of granite boulders splashed with orange lichen against the brilliant blue waters.
3. Swim at the beach – The sand at Binalong Bay is pristine and squeaks under your feet as you made your way through the powdery sugar to the crystal-clear ocean. The multiple shades of blue are what you’d come to expect from this coastline of Tasmania, yet at Binalong Beach they are on another level.
Due to this area’s popularity, there are showers, change rooms and toilets easily accessible for beach-goers near the parking area.
Binalong Beach had another major attraction. A flowing river meets the ocean waters via a wide stream it has carved into the sand. Many people take advantage of this by riding the river current down to the ocean water on floating rings and bodyboards.
TIP: There is only one restaurant in Binalong Bay, so if you want more choices, you will find other dining options at St Helen’s, 10 minutes drive away.
Bay of Fires Conservation Area
I initially 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 worldwide.
If you are short for time and can not explore the whole region, Binalong Bay will give you the perfect representation of what you can experience in the Bay of Fires Conservation Area.
Have more time? Binalong Bay is a brilliant place to stay to explore the Bay of Fires region.
Binalong Bay to Launceston
Distance from Binalong Bay to Launceston – 2 hours 25 minutes
From Launceston to Bay of Fires or Binalong Bay, you have the choice of taking the A4 or A3. The A4 will back-track on some of the coastal roads you drove on to reach Binalong Bay, but you will reach your destination a little sooner as the road is less windy. The A3 is scenic and the best route if you would like to visit the Bridestowe Lavender Farm before stopping at Launceston.
You May Also Like: An ultimate guide of visiting Launceston with kids
East Coast of Tasmania Accommodation
Choosing a base along the East Coast of Tasmania can be tricky, particularly if it’s your first visit. We stayed at Bicheno, and I wouldn’t hesitate on staying there again as I felt like it was one of the best hubs to explore the east coast due to its central location between Hobart and Launceston.
Where to Stay in Bicheno
There are many fabulous accommodation options in Bicheno.
If a motel, hotel or resort is to your liking, you can find the best deals for accommodation in Bicheno here.
The below are some popular hotel suggestions:
Beachfront Bicheno – Beachfront Bicheno is hotel-style accommodation located opposite the beach. The 50 hotel rooms have various views and come with your standard hotel facilities.
Diamond Island Resort – The 26 rooms at Diamond Island Resort offer guests views and easy access to the beach located at the bottom of the resort.
More Places on a East Coast Tasmania Road Trip
If you have more time, the other must-see places along the Tasmania East Coast are:
- Maria Island
- St Marys
- St Helens
Since returning from our Tasmania trip, we discovered it is a place that connects with people on many different levels. Yet, one thing is always sure it is a destination you will want to return to again and again.
Tell me in the comments below. What places are going to make it on your itinerary?
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