Fresh sea-breeze and beaches. Peace and quiet. In big contrast to Tasmania’s windswept and rain-sprinkled West Coast, the island’s eastern side is the more holiday-friendly option. The East Coast is protected from strong winds and the climate is dry and sunny. The coastline is lined with beaches and lush green parks. Tasmania’s East Coast lacks young partygoers and busloads of tourists. It is a peaceful part of Australia with wonderful forests and glistening beaches. The traffic is minimal, and the roads windy which invites to exciting trips. But don’t make the mistake of underestimating the time it takes to drive. Navigating along these small roads takes many more hours than you can imagine since motorways and straights are rare. If you prefer to be your own machine, you have come to the right place. The East Coast is flat and well suited for longer bicycle rides. Here, small harbour towns are nestled in among the groves in a pleasant sea breeze. Tasmania’s eastern side also has a lot to offer connoisseurs. In the fishing communities, fresh seafood is served and further inland you will find Pyengana Dairy Company that produces creamy cheese that fits perfectly in your picnic basket.
Halvön Freycinet är troligen östkustens populäraste plats. I Freycinet National Park ligger berömda Wineglass Bay med sin perfekt buktade strandremsa i kritvitt som sköljs av kristallklart vatten. Du kan nöja dig med att se stranden från utsiktsplatsen eller fortsätt längs de branta stentrapporna ända ner till vattnet för att känna sanden silas mellan tårna. Vill du se mer av omgivningarna kan du vandra hela Freycinet Peninsula Circuit under ett par dagar. I Coles Bay kan du hyra kajak för att ta dig ut på det stilla vattnet. När hungern gör sig påmind beger du dig till närliggande Freycinet Marine Farm för att smaka på ostron. Längre norrut ligger Bay of Fires orangefärgade lavar som täcker stenbumlingar och klippor i ett knastertorrt täcke kring magiskt vackra sandstränder. Städerna längs östkusten lever i symbios med naturen med små, charmiga tegelvillor och trevliga restauranger. I Bicheno samlas både surfare och barnfamiljer för att leka bland vågorna. För den naturintresserade finns fler nationalparker att välja och vraka bland. Inte långt från Bicheno ligger vackra Douglas-Apsley National Park, vars besöksantal ännu är blygsamt. Och inte att förglömma, den världsarvslistade och obebodda ön Maria Island som ligger 15 kilometer utanför kusten. Maria Island är helt bilfritt och som gjort för att upptäckas på två hjul.
The Freycinet Peninsula is probably the East Coast’s most popular place. Within Freycinet National Park lies the famous Wineglass Bay with its perfectly curved beach strip in white, with crystal clear water crashing onto the shore. You can settle for seeing the beach from the vantage point or continue along the steep stone stairs right down to the water to feel the sand sift between your toes. If you want to see more of the surroundings, try hiking the entire Freycinet Peninsula Circuit for a few days. In Cole’s Bay you can rent a kayak to get out on the peaceful waters. When hunger calls, head to the nearby Freycinet Marine Farm to taste some oysters. Further north is the Bay of Fire with its orange lichens, covering stone boulders and cliffs like a crackly dry quilt, surrounded by magical beautiful sandy beaches. The towns along the East Coast live in symbiosis with nature with small, charming brick villas and nice restaurants. In Bicheno, both surfers and families gather to play among the waves. For the nature enthusiasts there are several national parks to choose from. Not far from Bicheno is the beautiful Douglas-Apsley National Park, whose number of visitors is still modest. And not to forget, the UNESCO Heritage-listed and uninhabited Maria Island which is located 15 km off the coast. Maria Island is completely pedestrian-free and as made to be explored on two wheels.
Along Coles Bay Road you will find the Freycinet Marine Farm (freycinetmarinefarm.com). Come here to sample Tasmanian seafood grown in the fresh waters. Oysters, mussels and lobsters are prepared by chefs with great knowledge. You can also buy a bag of seafood to take home. Continue with the theme of food and take a trip further inland. Turn off at St Helens and continue towards Pyengana and make a mandatory stop at the Pyengana Dairy Company (pyenganadairy.com.au). The family-owned company has been manufacturing cheese since 1992 and are multi-award winners for their cheese types. The Healey family has now broadened their range and, in addition to twelve different cheeses, they sell milkshakes and other goodies at the Holy Cow Café. They serve both breakfast and lunch and have local wines and ciders to compliment the food. Continue your trip, towards St Columba Falls (parks.tas.gov.au/?base=1409), one of Tasmania’s highest waterfalls. A short hike among eucalyptus and a rainforest takes you to the falls. In the past, the Tasmanian tiger lived in these areas before it got extinct, but the locals often love to say that they recently have seen it wandering around.
Maria Island is a mountainous national park where no vehicles are permitted. You have a great chance to encounter wild animals on the island, especially many bird species. The island has high sandstone rocks in colours of bronze, gold and vanilla and long beaches with a rich marine life beneath the surface, so don’t forget your swimwear and snorkel equipment. There are also several historic ruins here. The ferry to Maria Island runs from Triabunna and the journey takes 30 minutes (encountermaria.com.au/book-now). Through the ferry company you can rent a mountain bike. There are no shops on the island so bring everything you need for your stay. A different way to see the East Coast and Maria Island is to arrive to the island by helicopter (wotif.com/things-to-do/search?location=Maria%20Island).
A few kilometres north of Bicheno is the Douglas-Apsley National Park (parks.tas.gov.au/?base=3330). A smaller, hidden national park that has not yet been taken over by hordes of tourists. Douglas-Apsley has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty. Including waterfalls, rainforest and fantastic views. The hiking trail called Leeaberra Track (parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=6602) runs through the park. The hike is 28 km and takes two days.
It is no easy task to get to Wineglass Bay. Count on an hour’s hike one way to get down to the beach. And that includes following the many stone steps made of coarse boulders down the hillside. To skip the steps and only hike to the vantage point shortens the hike by half an hour. If you cannot walk all the way, you can choose a daytrip with Wineglass Bay Cruises that will take you to the location in a more pleasant way (wineglassbaycruises.com), or even experience the area from above (wotif.com/things-to-do/search?location=Freycinet,%20Tasmania). If you feel like a challenge, you can walk 31 km along Freycinet Peninsula Circuit (tastrails.com/freycinet-circuit) which will take about two to three days to complete. The Bay of Fires is an area where white sandy beaches meet the azure coloured Tasman sea. At several of the beaches are small campsites that are popular with vacationing Australians.
Binalong Bay forms the southern part of the Bay of Fires and is located near St Helens. Here is a fine sandy beach and a good place for surfing, but with strong currents. Bicheno is a quiet harbour Town that comes to life during the summer months. This is a cosy place with smaller cafés that attracts both families and surfers visiting Redbill Point.
Planning and preparation
Like the rest of the country, it is unwise to get here during the peak season. If that is your only choice, pre-book your accommodation (hotelscombined.com/Place/Tasmania.htm) It is especially important between December and February, but also avoid the Easter weekend when Tasmania’s inhabitants are happy to explore their own island.
The ferry called The Spirit of Tasmania (spiritoftasmania.com.au) runs between Melbourne and Devon Port twice a day during the summer and otherwise once a day. The journey takes almost ten hours and you can choose between travelling during the day or overnight, but if you travel overnight you need to book a cabin. It can, however, be both cheaper and easier to fly. Daily flights run from Melbourne and Sydney to the cities of Hobart, Launceston and Devon port (wotif.com/Flights).
The East Coast is a great place for a longer bicycle ride. The eastern side of the island is relatively flat and less rainy than the western part. Spring, summer and autumn are good times of the year to cycle around. Download the PDF guide to help you plan a bike ride (eastcoasttasmania.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Self-Guided-Cycling-Tour-Guide-Tasmania.pdf). Redline Coaches (tasredline.com.au) and Tassielink (tassielink.com.au) operates the East Coast but none of them runs the entire route and the buses sometimes run sparsely. However, they can be combined with Calow’s Coaches (calowscoaches.com.au). If you call and pre-book a seat with Tassielink, you can bring your bike on their buses at an additional cost. Otherwise, there are car rental companies in the larger cities (wotif.com/Car-Hire). Or join in on a guided tour (wotif.com/discover/australia/tasmania/hobart.d6052485/hobart-day-trips).
Make a detour from the coast at St Helens. Follow the Tasman Highway and then turn off at St Columba Falls Road. Continue until you get to the sign pointing towards St Columba Falls where you follow a shorter footpath towards one of the island’s tallest and most beautiful waterfalls (parks.tas.gov.au/?base=1409). Drive back out to the coast and make a stop at the Holy Cow Café at Pyengana Dairy (pyenganadairy.com.au/visit-us/). Try their delicious milkshakes and buy some locally produced cheese to take. Continue down the coast and stop when you reach Cole’s Bay which is the gateway to Freycinet National Park. Spend the night at one of the campsites or treat yourself with an overnight stay at the Saffire Lodge (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Saffire_Freycinet.htm) with an unbeatable view of the peninsula.
The next day it is time to see more of Wineglass Bay, voted one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Pack a picnic and head to the beach early, the hike is popular and takes just over an hour. After a while you are likely to start sweating, so do not forget your water bottle. Halfway there you will reach a vantage point that is good for photographing the surroundings. Then follow the rough boulders that lead steeply downwards until you reach your destination and reward, gorgeous Wineglass Bay which is set among mountain tops in granite. Stay on the beach and take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear sea. If you are lucky you can see dolphins swim past farther out.