(THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Tasmania’s east coast is home to picture-perfect conservation beaches and endless blue horizons. It’s all about spectacular national parks, and wildlife and marine experiences here.
If you’re enthralled by the Aussie state’s convict history, there’s the Convict Trail that winds from historic Richmond to the Tasman National Park, Eaglehawk Neck and Port Arthur Historic Site.
For one of Australia’s most beautiful coastal drives, go on the Great Eastern Drive. The journey from Hobart will take you past iconic places like the Freycinet National Park, Wineglass Bay and award-winning wineries. Other highlights include Barilla Bay and Coal River Farm.
Let us guide you through this dramatic route.
HOBART TO SWANSEA
A 30-minute ferry ride from Orford will take you to Maria Island National Park where native animals roam freely in this wildlife paradise.
You can visit the remnants of the Darlington convict settlement (which dates back to 1825) and wander among historical ruins.
While here, take a short walk to view the spectacular Painted Cliffs and Fossil Cliffs.
After Orford, you should head to the Freycinet Peninsula. Enjoy the stunning view across the long curve of Great Oyster Bay that takes in Maria Island, the rugged Freycinet Peninsula, and the remote Schouten Island.
Near Swansea, do look out for Spikey Bridge, built in 1841 by convicts. It’s an unusual structure that abruptly pops out of the landscape.
Also approaching Swansea is the entrance to Kate’s Berry Farm where you can sample desserts filled with fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and youngberries, not to mention truly great ice cream.
In Swansea, do pop into the Bark Mill Tavern and Bakery. The fully working mill demonstrates how bark from local black wattle trees was once crushed for export across the world. Within a few kilometres of town, sample award-winning cool-climate wines at the cellar doors of wineries such as Spring Vale, Freycinet, Milton, Craigie Knowe, Apsley Gorge, Coombend and more.
SWANSEA TO BICHENO
Once you’re on the highway, take the exit to Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park. About 10 minutes away from Coles Bay is the Freycinet Marine Farm where you can sample oysters, mussels, abalone and scallops.
Freycinet National Park is home to white sandy beaches and secluded bays. Choose to climb the trail to the Wineglass Bay Lookout for picture-postcard views or scale the Hazards (mountains) to Hazards Beach itself.
Great drives in the vicinity of the park include Sleepy Bay on the eastern side of the Peninsula, Cape Tourville Lighthouse, Bluestone Bay (4WD only) and Friendly Beaches.
Other ways to enjoy the coastline is to kayak, cruise or go by all-terrain vehicle. You can always explore by foot on a four-day guided walk.
Is that too taxing? Well then, you can relax on the deck of Freycinet Lodge and enjoy the region’s great food and wine.
Next, drive north to Bicheno. Once there, explore the Gulch and the Blowhole or take a ride in a glass-bottomed boat for a dolphin’s eye view of marine life. You can also join a penguin tour and see delightful fairy penguins parading around their beachside burrows.
COLES BAY TO ST HELENS
Further north is St Helens, a pretty fishing village located on the shores of Georges Bay inlet, and a base for serious game fishing.
The St Helens History Room showcases the region’s tin-mining history and aboriginal and Chinese heritage. From the town, take a 12km detour to Binalong Bay and Humbug Point Reserve, and enjoy its exceptional views, white beaches, swimming, fishing, diving and estuarine bird-watching.
Take time to explore the Bay of Fires Conservation Area, stretching from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point in the north with its brilliant white beaches, emerald-coloured waters, lagoons, wildflowers and lichen-covered granite rocks. Next, continue on to Launceston by joining the North East Trail at St Helens, and driving inland.
Remember, this is just a slice of the delights this state offers.