The beauty of Tasmania's East Coast
With powered sites right along the coast and distances never far from one place to the next, the East Coast is tailor-made for caravan holidays. You’ll be embarking on one of the country’s most exciting driving experiences: the Great Eastern Drive, a scenic 176km stretch of highway from St Helens to Orford. This is one of the ultimate Aussie coastal road trips.
Days 1-2: Devonport to Binalong Bay
After disembarking Spirit of Tasmania, depart Devonport for the 266km drive to Bay of Fires. But first, stop for breakfast (and chocolate) at House of Anvers and then pick up some goodies in Elizabeth Town at either Ashgrove Cheese or Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm. Continue east via Longford and Conara, and take the Esk Highway (A4) to St Marys. Nestled below a spectacular rocky outcrop, this town boasts quaint galleries and antique stores that are worth checking out before you head to the fishing port of St Helens.
Days 3-4: Binalong Bay to Freycinet Peninsula
Travel back through St Helens to Scamander at the top end of the Surf Coast. With reliable swells here year-round, this is the perfect spot to paddle out and catch some waves. Another location enjoyed by pros and grommets alike is Bicheno, a seaside hamlet that’s likely to trigger memories of carefree childhood summers by the beach. Quench your thirst at the family-friendly BrewHaus Café & Bar in Four Mile Creek. Use Bicheno as a base to explore the hiking trails and waterfalls of Douglas-Apsley National Park, before heading to the spectacular Freycinet Peninsula.
If you’re peckish don’t miss the Freycinet Marine Farm, which has some of the freshest seafood you’re likely to ever taste. Join a sea kayaking tour around Coles Bay or hike across the Hazards Range to the dreamy Wineglass Bay, voted by Frommers as one of the 10 best beaches in the world.
Make the most of the scenery by staying at Freycinet National Park’s campground, a small coastal strip along the dunes of Richardsons Beach and the granite knoll of Honeymoon Bay.
Days 5-6: Freycinet Peninsula to Maria Island
You’ll find the most concentrated selection of cellar doors along the East Coast between Bicheno and Swansea, so it makes sense to pull over to experience a few. Devil’s Corner and Milton Vineyard are just two options for sampling local cool climate wines. While you are there, tuck into fresh oysters or wood-fired pizzas at Devil’s or tapas at Milton.
Continue on to Triabunna, a portside town surrounded by eucalypt forests and pretty beaches that serves as the gateway to Maria Island. As there are no cars on Maria Island, it is an excellent spot for families to explore by bike.
Leave your Lotus behind and catch the ferry. Allow a full day to explore Maria Island’s aquamarine bays, sculpted cliffs and lush mountains. As well as being suitable for mountain biking, it is fabulous for snorkelling with spots in and around shipwrecks. Catch the ferry back and stay the night at either Triabunna Cabin and Caravan Park or Orford Beachside Holiday Park.
This marks the end of the Great Eastern Drive. But, why not continue on – there’s no shortage of magnificent sights, and they’re all within easy reach…
Days 7-8: Maria Island to Tasman Peninsula
From Triabunna, set off towards Eaglehawk Neck, the gateway to many attractions of the Tasman Peninsula. A rattling gravel road inside the Tasman National Park leads to Fortescue Bay, a unique concave beach bookended by forested headlands.
Set up camp here while you frolic in the bay’s translucent waters, dive among giant kelp forests or hike out to the breathtaking sea cliffs at Cape Hauy. Wildlife parks (including the popular Tasmanian Devil Unzoo, the first of its kind in the world), berry farms, blowholes and Port Arthur, are all close by.
Day 9: Tasman Peninsula to Devonport
If you have more time, pop into Hobart and stay a few days. Otherwise, take a scenic drive back up to Devonport via the picturesque Highland Lakes Road. You’ll pass through alpine grazing pastures north of Bothwell and skirt the Great Lake before descending the Western Tiers to Deloraine.
If travelling in winter, we advise you to take the Midland Highway route instead, as ice and snow may cover the road.
This article was originally published on www.spiritoftasmania.com.au