The east coast of Tasmania is perfect for those in need of a beach holiday, in stark contrast to the misty mountains of the west coast. It’s an almost never-ending string of golden sand, turquoise waves and rolling hills. You’ll find dramatic coastline, seaside breweries and the most scenic prison you’ll ever see, just keep your fingers crossed for sunshine.
Our east coast adventure started in Launceston, taking the relaxing Cataract Gorge Cruise along the Tamar River, a 50-minute journey that only costs $29. You also have the option for the 2.5 hour Morning Discovery Cruise for $79 or the 4 hour Batman Bridge Lunch Cruise for $125.
Our we spent our second night at a campsite in the Bay of Fires. I was shocked at how beautiful it was, and free! It’s a long drive down a gravel road that goes for a mile or so along the shore so be sure to drive to the very end to find the most secluded spot, right on the beach. Make a campfire while you wait for the moon to rise and the stars to shine.
The drive down the east coast is gorgeous and there are a million different beaches you can stop at if you have the time. We didn’t, but once you’ve seen one beach you’ve seen them all, so we stopped at the amazing Iron House Brewery for a spot of breakfast beer instead. I can’t recommend this place enough! Not only is the beer and wine they produce delicious, but it’s also in a damn beautiful location.
The highlight of the east coast has to be Freycinet National Park, home of the famous Wineglass Bay. This park is the most visited in Tasmania and it’s easy to see why. The park pass costs $11 per person per day and most people will only walk to the Wineglass Bay Lookout and maybe the beach itself. If you want to explore a little further you can cross through the forest to the deserted Hazards Beach and follow the contours of the mountain to reach the carpark, or take a multi-day loop around the southern tip of the park.
There are a few free campsites just outside of Freycinet but they are likely to be very full. You do have the option of camping inside the park itself but fees apply, and during the summer months you need to enter a ballot just for the chance to be picked for a spot! The winners are picked in August, so you’ll have to plan ahead for this one.
A visit to Tasmania wouldn’t be complete without a day spent exploring the gorgeous Port Arthur Historic Site. This crumbling ruin has been all sorts of things over the years, but most notably a prison. Standard tickets cost $39 including a 40 minute guided tour and a 25-minute harbour cruise. You also have the option for an after-dark ghost tour if you’re brave enough! Tours from Hobart are possible if you don’t have your own transport.
As you leave Port Arthur, make sure you enjoy the dramatic rock formations of the Tasman Arch, Devil’s Kitchen and the Tessellated Pavement, located near Pirate Bay. You’ll drive through Eaglehawk Neck, the narrowest point of Port Arthur, patrolled by guards and guard dogs when the prison was still functional as it was the only place the prisoners could attempt an escape.
It’s only a short drive back to Hobart from Port Arthur (be sure to stop at Kangaroo Point for that winning view of Hobart and Mount Wellington), but it was almost a relief as we got the rental car back at the very last second. It was a hectic 3 days, we clocked up a lot of miles and missed some great things, but what we did was amazing!
Highlights of the trip:
- Camping at the Bay of Fires
- Iron House Brewery
- Freycinet National Park
- Port Arthur Heritage Site
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