With school holidays just around the corner, Spring is a great time to get the kids outdoors and adventuring along the East Coast. With our 221km of coastline, take some time out and walk our quiet beaches, explore our rich rainforests, enjoy our fresh food and produce. Step up the action with our outdoor adventures, spectacular hikes, mountain biking and much more.
There’s plenty of activities to suit all budgets, and loads of free and fun things to do. We have compiled a guide of some of the best ideas and activities over the September school holidays to help make your life so much easier!
What’s new on the East Coast
You might have been to the East Coast before, but there are always new places to explore and things you probably haven’t experienced.
Whilst the adults have been having so much fun with our paintball, the young ones have missed out – well not any longer! New to Freycinet Paintball is GEL BALL for those aged 7 years+. Gel Balls are a soft “watered down” version of Paintballs that splatter on impact. There’s also an undercover bar area for parents to wait while kids play.
The Bicheno Beams epic laser light show is set to light up the beautiful Waub’s Bay every night during September. There’s two different 15 minute light shows presented on alternate nights, so stay longer and enjoy two entirely unique and awe-inspiring laser light shows! Did we mention this is a free event?
Grab the bikes and your joggers and head out along the new boardwalk along the St Helens foreshore. The St Helens Foreshore Walk Experience takes you along 3km of George’s Bay multi-user track, taking in the birdlife and serenity. There’s a number of viewing and fishing nodes along the way with lookout seating, picnic areas and toilets.
Get totally wild!
Everyone loves animals, even the big kids. The East Coast is abundant with wildlife and has some excellent wildlife experiences the kids will love.
Bicheno Penguin Tours takes you to see little penguins at dusk on Tasmania’s East Coast. The nightly evening tours offer a rare and thrilling chance to visit a private rookery. You can watch the penguins emerge from the ocean and head for their homes.
From the moment you walk into East Coast Natureworld, the wildlife is at your feet. It’s the perfect place to experience Tasmania’s unique animals, birds and reptiles. Wander around at your own leisure. Wheelchair and pram friendly and with a café and souvenir shop. Of a night time – treat yourself to some Devil watching with the Devils in the Dark tour.
Visit the Serpentarium Wildlife Park – the name pretty much says it all. It’s likely that at least one parent will pike out (try not to though – it’s a really fab experience) – but guaranteed the kiddos will love it.
Whaler’s Lookout in Bicheno is the perfect family-friendly walk and picnic spot to catch sight of whales, dolphins and seals frolicking in the ocean and get the lay of the land overlooking Bicheno. It’s a well sign posted 10-minute walk up a steep hill up to two safe platforms – one facing the ocean and the other facing inland, west.
Ok, so not technically a wildlife experience, but Priscilla the pig, “Princess of the Paddock” at the Pub in the Paddock is pretty much an East Coast icon. She has become quite the celebrity over the years and you can purchase a “specially watered-down” beer and be amazed how quick she guzzles it down.
For the adventurers
If it’s adrenaline you are looking for, head up to the St Helens MTB trails and ride specially designed trails to suit everyone from beginner green trails to advanced black diamond gravity trails. Whether you are looking for a nice casual ride through the natural coastal bushland or a lot of downhill airtime, you will find a trail for you. The St Helens trails even feature a purpose-built trailhead with plenty of parking, amenities block, recreational space and even a café so you can rest in between rides and share your trail stories with other riders. You can also do tours and coaching with local guides Shredleys Tours and Gravity Isle Mountain Biking.
Swap the pedals for paddles and The Freycinet Paddle is the perfect way to explore Freycinet National Park. Glide by Freycinet’s vibrant marine life, pink granite mountains and white sandy beaches with experienced guides who share little known stories of the area. The tour takes 3hrs and has a stop half way on a private beach. Or if you prefer to set off on your own adventure, you can hire your own sea kayak.
Turning up the pace a little (and staying on dry land), ALL4 provides an unforgettable way of experiencing the beauty and wonder of Freycinet National Park. Get on board a quad bike or side by side and wind your way through eucalypt covered hills, boulder strewn valleys and coastal heath, to where red granite, blue seas and fine white sands collide and explore otherwise inaccessible destinations within the national park. They cater for all ability levels.
Discover the closely guarded “secret” gem fields with a tour on pedal powered kayaks with Secret River Gem Hunting and Kayaking Tours. Spend the day hunting for Sapphire, Zircons, Topaz, Smokey Quarts Crystals and many other treasures. Suitable for all ages and abilities.
Head for the Hills
The hinterland of the East Coast is as equally as spectacular as our coastline.
Just a short drive from St Helens and passing through the dairy capital of the area, Pyengana, St Columba Falls is an easy 30 minute return walk. The falls are one of Tasmania’s highest at 90 metres high and are at their most spectacular after a good rainfall.
Located in the Fingal Valley near Mathinna are the tallest white gums in the world, the ‘White Knights’, as well as the nearby Evercreech Falls. The perfect spot for a picnic with BBQ facilities right by the creek, both walks, to the White Knights and the Falls are not difficult and worth a look.
Halls Falls is a truly spectacular place as it features twin falls flowing in to a peaceful, tree fern lined rockpool. It is a lovely spot to escape the summer sun and enjoy a quiet picnic. It is an easy but in parts steep walk down to the falls so make sure you wear some good shoes.
The Weldborough Pass Rainforest Walk is a short bushwalk on a level circular walk with storyboards along the way. It is a magical experience not to be missed – it is an accessible way to see the myrtles and treeferns that make Tasmania’s cool temperate rainforest so distinctive.
One of the lesser-known walks is the Blue Tier Giant or ‘Big Tree’ walk. The walk descends through huge eucalypts, musk, myrtle, mosses and ferns to the majesty of the Blue Tier Giant, the widest living tree in Australia. This massive Eucalyptus has a girth measuring an amazing 19.4 metres. Allow two hours for the walk – plus a refreshing stop at the Weldborough pub or picnic at Little Plains look-out.
With possibly one of the most remarkable coastal views of Freycinet National Park and a well-constructed walkway, Cape Tourville Lighthouse is a very easy walk is a great way for everyone to experience Freycinet. The elevated track loops around the automated lighthouse at Cape Tourville.
Walk to one of Tasmania’s most celebrated views—the crystal-clear waters and curvaceous white beach of Wineglass Bay. A beautifully constructed track takes you up through coastal woodland, past striking granite boulders, to the lookout.
Take the Bicheno Foreshore walk from Redbill Beach to the Blowhole (local tip: go when the wind is blowing and the swell is high for the most spectacular blow). Elephant rock is also in Bicheno, boasting great views.
This understated national park near Bicheno, is a gem awaiting discovery by those with a real sense of adventure. The Douglas Apsley National Park is one of the last remaining areas of untouched forest of its type in Tasmania. Experience deep gorges, cascading waterfalls, endangered plants and animals – walk, picnic, swim or take time out for quiet contemplation.
It isn’t often that one of the best views from a hike is before you begin but it is the case with the Three Thumbs Track. From the Thumbs picnic area, fantastic views of Maria Island and Spring Bay are on show before walking 50m down to the start of the track.
Catch the ferry from Triabunna over to Maria Island. There is a lot to do on-island – walk, ride (you can take your own bikes or hire bikes on the island) or relax taking in the amazing scenery, wandering around Darlington learning more about the island’s history, and wildlife watching in between. High on the list of the Park Rangers’ manageable ‘must-dos’ are the Painted Cliffs and Fossil Cliffs – both easy short walks from Darlington. You can stay on the Island (camping or penitentiary accommodation) or do a day trip. Check the ferry timetable, and be sure to book ahead. Make sure you pack a picnic as there is no food or drink available on Maria Island and make sure to take the Maria Island pledge!
Beaches, rock pools, fishing and surfing
It’s no secret the East Coast is famous for our mostly-deserted beaches with crystal clear blue water and white sandy shores. Here are a few that are perfect for a family frolic.
Binalong Bay has amazing rock pools to play in and some great short walks and also close to Bay of Fires.
Steiglitz Beach Walk is a short walk around the point. There’s amazing views and great rock pools on one side.
Dunes for days, and perfect for sandboarding at the Peron Sand Dunes. If you are an experienced four-wheel driver and have a capable 4wd, you can also take your vehicle on the beach.
Denison Beach has a walk to the point and then when the tide is out, you can walk all the way to Seymour. There are also some amazing rock pools for bathing in at the point.
Dolphin Sands near Swansea has approx 9km of stunning beaches to swim, walk and look for shells.
Friendly Beaches Lookout (just before Friendly beaches itself) has incredible views and then a walk down to a stunning beach.
Mayfield Beach walk leads to a tunnel… under a bridge… We won’t tell you more – you need to check it out for yourself.
If you and the kids don’t mind a bit of fishing, Scamander River is great little spot to throw the rod in, as is Moulting Lagoon and the jetty at Bicheno. And of course, there is surf fishing all along the coast.
The best surfing spots along the East Coast (and also the local cohorts) are at Redbill Beach and Kelvedon Beach – which a visit to the boat shed and collecting shells is a must!
Based at Scamander, you can also book yourself in for a surfing lesson with 42 South Surf School. They hire all the gear, so you don’t need a thing to start hanging-ten.
Where to eat
The staple of course on school holidays has to be fish and chips by the sea and an ice cream. Throw in some coffee for the parents, and you’re all set.
The Triabunna Fish Van is always a crowd pleaser, stop on the way for a snack and a stretch. In Bicheno, there is The Gulch or the Lobster Shack for fish and chips, The Horny Cray Takeaway at Swansea and then further north, Skippers has been delighting locals and travellers alike for years.
If you’re looking for an espresso stop for parents, Swims East Coast Coffee in Scamander, Little Bay Patisserie & Governors in Bicheno, and Lifebuoy Café (also dog friendly) in St Helens are great spots. And if you’re hunting down the best burgers on the East Coast, Surfside Motel, Beaumaris is the place to go.
For some homemade food, using homegrown produce, Me & Mums at Little Swanport is definitely worth the stop. Delicious, but dangerous, is Elly’s Gourmet Confectionery in Orford is known for their famous popcorn, delicious baked treats and the lolly room.
Sit under the wisteria-draped pergola at Kate’s Berry Farm and decide which handmade berry incarnation suits your mood. The Pondering Frog is a great place to pause, excellent whole berry ice cream, a playground to stretch little legs and some comfy seats to rest in for weary drivers. Or pick from 24 flavours of Tasmanian made ice cream at The Coles bay Ice Creamery overlooking panoramic views of the Hazards, Freycinet Peninsula.
Where to stay
Tasmania’s East Coast has a huge variety of accommodation options to suit every taste, from luxurious resorts and private retreats to holiday beach houses, eco lodges, cottages and cabins, comfortable motel and hotel rooms and family-friendly campsites with some of the best views you’ll find anywhere.
If you haven’t already, check out our website for the best places to stay, and if you are donning the tent or the caravan, we also have a handy Holiday Park and Camping Guide.
So whatever the feels are for the school holidays, the East Coast is sure to entertain little hearts and minds. East Coast shines!