Five Places You Must Visit This Summer on Tasmania’s East Coast
I don’t quite know how this happened, but my calendar tells me that it’s already summer. Most years, the holiday season seems to creep up on me before I’ve even started to think about where I packed my hot weather clothes, when to start Christmas shopping and where to escape to for my well-deserved summer break. But this year, I’m ready for those long Tasmanian days and warm, lingering evenings. This summer, I have a plan…
Lonely Planet recently declared Tasmania among its Top 10 Regions in the World to visit in 2015, alongside exotic locations such as Gallipoli, Arctic Norway, Khumbu and Macau. All the wonderful, must-do experiences that put Tasmania on lists like these—its cultural texture, wild landscapes, wonderful food and remote location—are easily found on the east coast. So, with this in mind, I’ve made a wish list of places to visit on Tasmania’s east coast this summer—and, lucky you, here it is…
1. The Bay of Fires
The Bay of Fire’s accolades are many, and all well deserved. Lonely Planet has named it as one of the world’s hottest travel destinations, but, mercifully, this isn’t a place where you’ll be confronted by shopping plazas and throngs of tourists. This fifty-kilometre section of the east coast extends north from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point and is a remote and beautiful landscape of beaches, coastal vegetation and woodlands. It is inexpressibly beautiful here, not just because of the glistening sand and clear, clean ocean.
This place feels untouched—a rare quality in a destination that is so well known and loved. The Bay of Fires is best accessed from St Helens or Binalong Bay, and you’ll find a range of accommodation in the area from which to base your explorations—from cottages and bed and breakfasts to hotel rooms and eco-lodges. There are also campsites for those natural souls who crave a more immersive experience of the Bay of Fires environment. Summer camping destinations don’t get much more idyllic than this. Walking is the preferred form of exploring here—stroll the beaches at your leisure or join a guided walk.
For many people, the Freycinet Peninsula is the embodiment of the east coast experience. This rugged spur of coast has some of the region’s best known and loved beaches—including Wineglass Bay, voted one of the world’s top ten beaches by US magazine Outside and named in 2013 by Lonely Planet as one of the top ten experiences in Tasmania.
The Freycinet peninsula nurtures landscapes so precious that they were among the first to be protected as a national park in Tasmania. Walking in Freycinet National Park should be on everyone’s must-do list—you’ll find everything from short walks to the Wineglass Bay lookout to multi-day bushwalks among the park’s mountains, beaches and forests.
You can choose to stay within the park itself or at one of the many accommodation properties in Coles Bay. Local accommodation ranges from plush, luxury suites to beachside campsites and everything in between.
Apart from the time-honored holiday pastime of lying around with a good book while the sun warms your soul, Freycinet offers countless opportunities to join local operators on cruises, fishing charters, sea kayaking, guided walks, gourmet food and wine experiences, scenic flights, cycling, quad biking or four wheel driving. Yes—just about anything your heart desires.
3. Maria Island National Park
There’s really nowhere else like Maria Island. As a national park, it protects an extraordinary combination of natural, geological and human landscapes and artefacts. A day trip to the island, which is accessed by ferry from Triabunna, introduces you to places like the World Heritage-listed convict site at Darlington Probation Station, colonial-era ruins, the extraordinary sandstone sculptures of Painted Cliffs and the geological storybook of Fossil Cliffs.
There are no cars here, so discovering Maria’s stunning beaches, forests, grassy plains, wildlife and historic sites happens on foot or from the seat of a bicycle. Maria’s coast can also be explored from a boat or kayak, or by snorkeling or diving within the stunning marine sanctuary. The island’s only permanent residents are its wildlife, and close encounters with grazing wombats, wallabies and Forester kangaroos are common. Maria also hosts an insurance population of Tasmanian devils and diverse bird life, including flocks of elegant Cape Barren geese. Stay in the converted convict-era penitentiary rooms, camp under the stars, or join a fully-guided walk of the island and stay in private accommodation.
What’s that you say? I just want a classic, Australian summer holiday? Look no further than the quintessential seaside holiday town of Bicheno. Think mild east coast climate, perfect beaches, swimming in clear seas and relaxing on warm beaches.
Bicheno has a great range of places to stay, and a huge choice of family holiday activities. Join a nightly penguin watching tour, visit a wildlife park or enjoy a walk in nearby Douglas Apsley National Park. Take a fishing charter or cruise, go snorkeling, or explore the marine sanctuary from the sheltered deck of a glass-bottomed boat. Or just spend long summer days swimming, lazing on the beach, soaking up the mild east coast weather.
5. The Great Eastern Drive
Okay, so technically speaking, this is more than one place, but a driving holiday of the east coast of Tasmania was recently rated at number two on Australian Traveller Magazine’s list of Australia’s 100 Greatest Holidays—ahead of other iconic road trips including the Nullarbor Plain and Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. Take a few days to meander along Tasmania’s eastern coastal roads and explore 220 kilometres of seaside towns, beautiful beaches, diverse national parks and verdant inland valleys.
Take your time, just stop, and let the story of the east coast unfold, just for you.
So there it is—perfect, unmissable Tasmanian east coast summer holiday experiences at every turn. Your only challenge will be deciding which one to have first.