Carmel Boyd
Tasmania
East CoastOne of the most stunning regions in the country, Tasmania's East Coast is home to five extraordinary national parks dotted along the coastline, including the striking Freycinet National Park. We hope you love seafood - you'll be dining on some of the best in the state!
Tasmania's east coast is a coast of contrast - sunshine and sea life, wine and wildlife, crags and beaches, history, and adventure. It's a coast of national parks - Douglas-Apsley, with its quietly flowing rivers, eucalypts, and Oyster Bay pines; Freycinet, a bushwalkers' and sea kayakers' paradise; and Maria Island, with its history, walks and fauna. It's a coast of fine food and wine - as you journey on, you'll discover the flavours of the area's fresh, natural produce. Place names tell the region's heritage: Dutch navigator Abel Tasman mapped Schouten and Maria; Frenchman Nicolas Baudin charted Freycinet; nostalgic Welsh settlers named the town of Swansea, Triabunna and Wielangta remember thousands of years of Aboriginal presence. Islands float on the horizon - across Mercury Passage, Maria is an island rich in history, with beaches, cliffs and mountains to explore. You can reach it by ferry from Triabunna. Further north is the craggy outline of Schouten Island and the graceful profile of the Freycinet Peninsula, with its sea cliffs and forests, tracks, and beaches. The holiday town of Coles Bay nestles in a sheltered corner - from here it's a short walk across a saddle to the perfect half-moon of Wineglass Bay, ranked as one of the world's best beaches by US-based Outside magazine. Above Coles Bay's quiet beaches, The Hazards' pink and grey granite rocks, daubed with orange lichen, rise steeply. Climbers and abseilers test their skills, relishing the perfect friction, dramatic exposure and exciting height of crags that plummet to the water below.
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Things to do
Bicheno Blowhole
Bicheno is a family seaside holiday town situated on the east coast of Tasmania which offers visitors a lot to see and do, good accommodation, excellent fishing and close to wildlife. A visit to the Bicheno Blowhole is accessible from the esplanade and there is also car parking close by.
Take a penguin tour
Bicheno's Glass Bottom Boat operates from Bicheno, on Tasmania's East Coast from September through April. The cool temperate waters offer excellent viewing of the creatures that live there and the luxuriant and rarely seen plant life is a spectacle itself. Your guide has many years of experience and can offer a comprehensive and knowledgeable interpretation. Every day is different and the effect of the East Australian current is at times dramatic with many different life forms travelling in it. The trips are subject to weather, so please telephone ahead for a daily update on conditions. You can also check the blackboard at our office/museum at the Gulch in Bicheno. Tours take 45 minutes. Tours depart at 1000, noon and 1400 daily from September to April.
Relax in Bicheno
Bicheno is a seaside holiday town known for its laid-back lifestyle and outdoor activities. Just north of Freycinet Peninsula on Tasmania's stunning East Coast, the town has lots to see and do, good accommodation, excellent fishing and is close to wildlife. Since its early days, fishing has been the lifeblood of the town with catches including crayfish, abalone, scallops and trevally and for fishing enthusiasts there is excellent surf, rock, sea and estuary fishing. Offshore, Governor Island Marine Reserve has some of the best dive spots in Australia with kelp-covered reefs and spectacular sponge gardens. You can also experience this water wonderland by kayak or glass-bottomed boat. For those interested in nature, a walkout from the main beach at low tide to Diamond Island Nature Reserve, a small low granite island, will reveal a colony of fairy penguins while at the local wildlife park there's a wide array of fauna including Tasmanian devils. Whalers Lookout, on the edge of town, offers good views and in October and November, you'll find beautiful rock orchids native to the East Coast. You'll also find the impressive Blowhole and Rocking Rock - a huge 80-tonne piece of granite naturally balanced that rocks with the movement of the tide. Nearby is Douglas-Apsley National Park with waterfalls, tranquil lakes, and river ravines. Also within easy reach is Freycinet National Park, home to Wineglass Bay - perhaps the world's most photographed beach. Bicheno is a 2 hr 30 min-drive (182 km) north-east of Hobart.
Fly over Wineglass Bay with Freycinet Air
Freycinet Air operates scenic flights over the east coast of Tasmania and specializes in Wineglass Bay and Freycinet National Park, from Friendly Beaches, near Coles Bay. The company has been operating since 1997 and offers charter and scenic flights in their 4 seat Cessna 172s, 6 seats twin-engine Partenavia and now offering Helicopter flights a 5 seat AS350. The Freycinet Peninsula is regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the world with its combination of mountains, forests and white beaches. The best way to experience this amazing but inaccessible location is by taking a scenic flight. All flights provide unparalleled views of the beautiful Wineglass Bay, the Hazards and the Freycinet Peninsula. You will also experience the Swan River, Schouten Island and miles of unspoiled white sand beaches with turquoise water. You may extend your flight south to Maria Island or along the coast to Swansea and then north to Bicheno. Join us on this once in a lifetime experience and let Tasmania's natural beauty take your breath away. Freycinet Air flies from Friendly Beaches Airfield, located 18 kilometres north of Coles Bay.
Visit Orford
The holiday township of Orford has a mild climate, great fishing and interesting bushwalks and makes a good base from which to explore Maria Island National Park. Popular with locals and tourists, the town's population of around 500 increases to over 3,000 in the summer months. The township is at the mouth of the Prosser River, opposite beautiful Maria Island, making it a perfect base for exploring the island national park and its surrounding marine reserve. There are good swimming beaches close to the town, including Raspins, Shelley and Spring beach, and a popular campsite at Raspins Beach. Take an easy 2-km cliff top walk from East Shelly to Spring Beach for superb sea and ocean views. The walk passes a 19th-century sandstone quarry that provided the hand-hewn stone used for Melbourne's Law Courts. Orford's convict history is still evident along the banks of the Prosser River where you'll find the remains of the original convict road built between 1841 and 1855. The road is just past the northern side of the bridge across the Prosser River. A stone entry leads to a pleasant 40-min walk along the bank of the river. Orford is also a popular fishing destination with excellent fishing in Prosser Bay, the Mercury Passage and the clean ocean waters off Maria Island. Despite its small size, Orford has two supermarkets, several cafes and eateries, a hotel and lots of accommodation. Orford is a 1-hr drive (80 km) north of Hobart.
Visit Triabunna
Triabunna is a scenic port town surrounded by beaches, hills and beautiful eucalyptus forest. It's also the departure point for the ferry to Maria Island National Park. Triabunna began life as a garrison town for the penal colony at Maria Island and has a long history as Australia's first rural municipality. There are many surviving historic buildings from Tasmania's colonial period in the area, including the sandstone St Mary's Anglican Church (1880) and the Spring Bay Hotel (1838). Triabunna commands excellent views of Maria Island, a natural wildlife sanctuary and off-shore retreat with historic ruins, sweeping bays, dramatic cliffs and plenty of stories to tell. The Triabunna's Visitor Information Centre has an interesting display of wall tapestries depicting the area's rich Aboriginal and European history and adjacent is the Tasmanian Seafarers Memorial. The town has a range of accommodation and shops, galleries and tearooms perfect for lazing away a morning. Triabunna is an Aboriginal word meaning native hen - a fast-running, flightless bird found only in Tasmania that can reach speeds of up to 50 km an hour. You'll often see these birds foraging near streams and pastureland in the area. Triabunna is just over a 1-hr drive (88 km) north-east of Hobart.
Explore Maria Island National Park
Maria Island National Park is Tasmania's only island park, six kilometres off the state's east coast and an easy 30-minute trip from Triabunna - about one hour and fifteen minutes' drive from Hobart (86km). Encounter Maria Island is the official ferry operator to and from Maria Island National Park. See the website for details. Maria Island National Park has a rich history. Originally inhabited by the indigenous Tyreddeme people, it has also been a whaling and sealing post, penal settlement and an Italianate pleasure resort. You can explore the Island on bushwalks including Fossil Cliffs, Painted Cliffs, and the peaks of Mt Maria and Bishop and Clerk. Mountain biking or walking are the only ways to explore the island. Basic accommodation includes bunk rooms in the Penitentiary at Darlington - a once-thriving settlement that included a vineyard, coffee palace and Grand Hotel. Camping is also available here and at free sites at French's Farm and Encampment Cove. Abundant wildlife includes Cape Barren geese, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and wombats. The Island's marine reserves are rich with sea life including seahorses, sea dragons, colourful sponge gardens and jewel anemones. From the cliff tops, you may also see dolphins, whales, seals and sea eagles.
Stay at Saffire Freycinet
Australia's most iconic luxury lodge and voted World’s Best Boutique Hotel, Saffire Freycinet offers an authentic, enriching and uplifting experience overlooking one of Tasmania's most iconic and spectacular wilderness areas, Freycinet National Park. With tailored, one-on-one service, all-inclusive degustation dining and immersive experiences such as shucking oysters in waders or gathering honey from Saffire’s hives, guests come away with an unforgettable connection to place.
Visit St Helens
St Helens is a popular tourist destination, just a few kilometres from Binalong Bay and the beautiful beaches of the Bay of Fires, one of Lonely Planet's top 10 regions in the world. St Helens is the largest town on Tasmania's North East Coast and an ideal base from which to discover this varied, interesting and beautiful region. The town overlooks scenic Georges Bay and is sheltered by the long headland of St Helens Point, much of which is a public conservation area and popular with bushwalkers; the walk from St Helens Point Conservation Area to Beer Barrel Beach takes in the spectacular Peron Dunes. St Helens is the perfect place to laze away a few sunny seaside days with the beaches ideal for swimming and surfing. Its all-year-round sunny climate and warm seas, the result of a microclimate produced by the surrounding hills and warm ocean currents, makes St Helens a popular tourist destination. St Helen's is also the state's second-largest fishing port, renowned for its catches of deep-sea fish and lobster and a popular destination for recreational fishing. Known as the game fishing capital of Tasmania, the waters abound with gamefish such as Albacore Tuna and Yellowfin Tuna. It's also popular with divers for its extensive kelp forests and underwater caves. Inland from St Helens, you'll find rainforest, waterfalls, the lush Pyengana Valley and historic pubs dating back to the region's tin mining era, while further north is Mount William National Park. St Helen's vibrant town centre has a wide variety of accommodation, excellent restaurants with the freshest seafood imaginable, cafes and boutiques. St Helens is a 2-hr drive (163 km) from Launceston.
Get adventurous in Freycinet National Park
Freycinet National Park, with its stunning pink granite peaks, is located on Tasmania's east coast. The park is famous for Wineglass Bay, rated by Outside magazine as one of the ten best beaches in the world. The park offers climbing, abseiling and mountain walking and the coastal heathlands have wonderful day walks. For bird lovers, there's the chance to see a white-bellied sea-eagle gliding overhead or a large Australasian gannet diving for food in the ocean. Moulting Lagoon Game Reserve, just outside the park on the Coles Bay Road, is a wetland of international importance. The town of Coles Bay on the edge of the park offers a range of accommodation and campsites are available just inside the park boundary. Because the area is so popular over the Christmas-New Year period there's a ballot system draw for campsites, so please check the Parks and Wildlife website before making plans. The park offers a variety of basic powered and unpowered campsites, some with cold showers. Bookings are not necessary outside the main summer-Easter period, though visitors must check at the visitor interpretation centre before setting up camp.
Drop by St Marys
St Marys is a small township nestled beneath St Patrick's Head, an impressive rocky outcrop in Tasmania's North East. The town is a 10-15 min drive inland from the coast, 600 meters above sea level and surrounded by hills, pristine forests and majestic lookouts with fantastic views of the coast below. St Marys offers a range of accommodation, a craft gallery, bakery, shops and supermarkets, while the St Marys Hotel, built-in 1916, is a feature of the town centre. There are also some lovely old buildings along the main street including the original railway station, now a quirky museum of local relics and oddities. From St Marys, visitors can drive up the Fingal Valley to the Evercreech Forest Reserve. (There's signage to the reserve in the township of Fingal.) As well as its spectacular trees, ferns and mountain streams, Evercreech is home to the White Knights - the tallest white gums in existence. St Marys is also close to Douglas-Apsley National Park with its beautiful forests, waterfalls and excellent bushwalks. The coastline is a short drive away via the Elephant Pass or St Marys Pass. Both roads hug the mountain and are popular for training cyclists. St Marys is a 1 hr 40-min drive (128 km) east of Launceston.
Pick up a myriad of fresh seafood from Freycinet Marine Farm
The Freycinet Marine Farm salesroom is located near Coles Bay on Tasmania's east coast. We are a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Hobart and two hours from Launceston - part of the very popular Great Eastern Drive. The salesroom is open every day from 0900 until 1700, offering freshly harvested mussels, oysters and local Tasmanian Rock lobster, abalone, scallops, urchin and salmon all from Tasmanian's waters. You can sit at one of the picnic tables or enjoy lunch on one of the coastal beaches. Tasmanian wine and beer are also available from the salesroom. The farm is made up of six different growing regions totalling just less than 185 acres and is a mixture of estuarine and fully marine growing areas. The estuarine areas are in the Great Swanport River estuary. The marine zones are offshore from the Freycinet National Park and are open to the Southern Ocean to the south. Come and join us to taste the love from the ocean at our farm gate shop.
Stop by Coles Bay
The village of Coles Bay on Tasmania's East Coast sits beneath pink granite mountains at the entrance to Freycinet National Park and is an ideal location for swimming, boating, kayaking and fishing. The Coles Bay area is one of Tasmania's most popular holiday spots for visitors and locals. The spectacular coastal scenery of the park includes Wineglass Bay, one of the world's most photographed beaches. Follow the steep but well-designed ascent to the lookout for views of the Bay. If you prefer, you can take a cruise and experience the Bay from a very different perspective. The Park offers great walking and is home to Tasmanian pademelons, white-breasted sea eagles and red-necked wallabies - and in season, there's a spectacular display of native orchids. Coles Bay is a 2 hr 30-min drive (192 km) from Hobart and a 2 hr 20-min drive (173 km) from Launceston.
Drop by Swansea
The quiet, historic township of Swansea overlooks the sheltered waters of Great Oyster Bay with stunning views across to beautiful Freycinet National Park. The town has lots of old-world charm with a rich colonial history and many interesting historic buildings. Schouten House was built in 1845; Resthaven - now known as Oyster Bay Guest House - in Franklin Street, was built in 1841; and All Saints Church on the corner of Noyes and Wellington Streets was completed in 1871. Swansea is ideal for fishing, swimming, visiting vineyards or exploring the wonderful attractions nearby. Just south of town is the unusual Spikey Bridge, constructed by convicts using fieldstones laid without mortar or cement. Swansea is a 90-min drive (134 km) from Hobart and the same from Launceston.
Explore Wineglass Bay from the water with Freycinet Charters
Freycinet Charters is a family-owned boat tour business that operates out of Coles Bay, located on the mid-east coast of Tasmania. We offer highly personalised boat charters for smaller families, special interest and social groups in and around Freycinet National Park, Schouten Island, Wineglass Bay, Great Oyster Bay and Moulting Lagoon on their 9.5 metres purpose-built Noosa Cat charter vessel. We have Freycinet Parks and Wildlife accreditation to operate within Freycinet National Park and Moulting Lagoon.
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