Hobart – Maria Island National Park – Orford – Swansea – Freycinet National Park – St Helens – Bay of Fires
5 days drive
Immerse yourself in the beauty of Tasmania’s east coast on this attraction-packed drive. Sea kayak and hunt down history on Maria Island, sample farm-fresh berries and wine near Swansea and take in the perfect contours of Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park. Stop in Bicheno, where you can cling to the coastline on a motorised trike ride or see fairy penguins waddle home at dusk. Bushwalk in the rainforest of Douglas-Apsley National Park and game fish or dive from the picturesque port of St Helens Park. Swim in the calm, clear waters of Binnalong Bay and follow the Bay of Fires walk past Aboriginal middens, woodlands and powder-white beaches. Finish your journey in a remote eco-lodge with soul-stirring ocean views.
Leave Hobart and travel through Sorrell, where you can stock up on supplies or stop for fish and chips. From here, curve inland to the tiny holiday town of Orford, on the mouth of the Prosser River and on to Triabunna where you can take a ferry to Maria Island. With no shops or cars, the island is a tranquil bushwalking and wildlife haven. Climb to the cliff-tops on the challenging Bishop and Clark or walk to the Painted Cliffs and Fossil Cliffs, filled with sea creature sediments more than 300 million years old. See the threatened Cape Barren geese, Forrester kangaroos, and Flinders Island wombats or scuba dive the marine reserve in the island’s northern end. Visit Bloodstone Point, where the Oyster Bay Aboriginal tribe collected stones to make hair colouring. Then wander the remains of the convict settlement in Darlington and learn about the failed Italian entrepreneur who turned their brick-and-stone buildings into a resort-style hotel. The vines and silk worm trees he planted remain today. Sleep in the old penitentiary, at one of the many campsites across the island or return to Triabunna or Orford for the night.
Enjoy panoramic views from the Three Thumbs Reserve in the Wielangta Forest or walk between Shelley and Spring beaches. Then follow one of the country’s most stunning stretches of coast towards the white beaches and pink-and-grey granite cliffs of the Freycinet Peninsula. Visit a berry farm, boutique vineyards and the Wine and Wool Centre in and around Swansea. Then do a heritage walk or visit the quirky convict-built Spiky Bridge just out of town. Swim, surf, dive and fish from the Mayfield Bay Coastal Reserve and walk to lookouts over the picturesque coastline. See colonies of mutton birds and visit the wetlands of Moulting Lagoon, where you can watch black swans, pelicans, and pied oyster catchers wake to a new day.
Capture the perfect contours of Wineglass Bay on your camera. Then swim, boat, fish, snorkel and scuba dive from the dreamy white beach. Go abseiling in the Hazards and four wheel drive to Cape Tourville Lighthouse, where the view will make you dizzy. Surf from Friendly Beaches and sea kayak next to dolphins in Honeymoon Bay. Bushwalk past Aboriginal middens and learn about the French explorers who first discovered this paradise. At the end of the day, relax in a lodge overlooking Great Oyster Bay with a meal of fresh seafood and glass of wine made from local vines.
Drive north to the holiday haven of Bicheno, where you can sea kayak, dive, snorkel or jump on a glass-bottomed boat. Walk to Rocking Rock and the Bicheno Blowhole or join a fine wine tour. Watch the dusk parade of Little penguins and see Tasmanian devils, kangaroos, and pelicans at the local wildlife park. Back on the road, stop for a swim at the Apsley River Waterhole or bushwalk in Douglas-Apsley National Park. Follow the scenic road to the shimmering Chain of Lagoons and stop at Elephant Pass for a plate of the town’s famous, European-style pancakes. In St Marys, climb to the top of St Patrick’s Head or the more accessible South Sister Peak, from where you can look out at a fairytale patchwork of forest and coast. Finish your day of discovery in the charming fishing village of St Helens.
Learn about the Georges Bay Aboriginal tribe, and the whalers, sailors and Chinese tin miners who shaped the region in the St Helens History Room. Visit the historic house of Fair Lee, catch bream in the Scamander River and swim from the beaches around Georges Bay. Next, stop off at the resort town of Binalong Bay. Walk along the white sands and surf, swim and fish in the emerald sea. In the nearby Bay of Fires, you can do a two-day trek past deserted beaches, Aboriginal middens and lichen-covered boulders. Camp overnight in the sand dunes and visit the Eddystone Lighthouse before arriving at a remote eco-lodge with soul-stirring ocean views. End your trip relaxing from the huge deck or kayaking down the Ansons River.