Our adventure down the east coast of Tasmania started at the Bay of Fires, just 10km north of St Helens and finished at Port Arthur.
The coastline is just incredible when the sun is out. There are plenty of beach houses and abodes with a maritime theme, jetties and fishing boats, and quite a few albatrosses lingering around the beaches as well.
Enjoy the drive…
Binalong Bay & Bay of Fires
Voted the second best beach in the world, the Bay of Fires stretches for 35 km from Binalong Bay to Eddystone lighthouse. The region is so called because the local Aboriginals used to light the beach on fire to clear the land, then drive animals to the coast and trap them in the newly open spaces. We think the red lichen on the rocks also contribute to the name.
We camped to the north of Binalong Bay at Swimcart Beach. Camping is free, close to the beach and there’s lots of space.
This little fishing town on the shores of Georges Bay is actually the largest town on the east coast. While there isn’t much to do, the town is a lifesaver for two reasons.
Firstly, there is a public toilet down near the marina that offers $2 showers, which can be best feeling in the world, depending on how long ago you last showered.
Secondly, the Banjo’s Bakery next to the IGA makes ripper pies with great flaky pastry. We recommend the beef and cheese pie.
The Famous Mount Elephant Pancake Barn
We drove past the turn off and Juz’s Hungarian blood yearned for pancakes so she made Dave turn around. It was 8 km off the coast road just near St Marys, at the top of Mount Elephant. It was a cute little place in a European style cottage with wooden walls, floors and ceilings and elephants everywhere.
We sat down in the corner and ordered the chicken, cheese and asparagus pancake for $18.90 to share. The lady bought it out on two separate plates, which was really nice of her but the pancakes were much nicer.
Filled with a creamy cheese sauce, morsels of chicken and asparagus, the pancake itself was light and fluffy with the integrity to hold its fillings. It was just enough to satisfy our mid morning snack attack, but take note – there are no EFTPOS facilities so bring cash!
This little town is both a fishing port and a popular holiday destination. You can see both of these elements as you go around town – all the tourists and all the maritime themed stuff. Bicheno has beaches, fishing, walking trails, local wildlife, snorkelling and a few cafes and restaurants.
If you’re passing through, our first recommended stop is the Gulch, which is actually the space between Bicheno and the rocky islands that are about 50 metres offshore. It’s a great place to snorkel and there is also a fish and chip shop – obviously selling fresh out of the ocean fish.
Next up would be the Whaler’s Lookout. Park your car at the base of the hill and march up for great views of the town and the Gulch. It’s a great opportunity to stretch the legs for 20 minutes or so.
Lastly, go and see the Blowhole. It’s more like a gaping hole that the sea water spurts out of, but it’s still worth a look. Climb over the rocks and get right up close but don’t fall in!
If you’re looking for a place to settle for lunch or cook some snags, there’s a Lion’s Park at the top of town with picnic benches, BBQs and public toilets.
Freycinet National Park
We bought a Parks Pass in Bicheno for $60 to cover our entry into Freycinet National Park. Unfortunately, the pass generally doesn’t cover camping, except for free camping areas, and in this case, we could camp only at Friendly Beach or Bluestone Bay.
No matter – Bluestone Bay is accessible by 4WD only so we found a nice spot all on our lonesome by the beach.
We did a brief stop at Freycinet Marine Farm for some oysters. We got half a dozen natural oysters for $10 and splashed them with a little soy sauce before sucking them down. They were alright, but not as good as the oysters in Coffin Bay, South Australia.
Coles Bay is the closest town to the National Park and has a few conveniences such as take away outlets, a tavern and petrol station, and lots of accommodation options, including the Coles Bay YHA.
Established in the 1820s, Swansea is one of Tassie’s oldest towns. While there isn’t much to do in the town itself, the coastal drive south to Triabunna is just beautiful.
We rested in Swansea briefly for lunch before making our way down the seaside road, admiring the Freycinet mountain range and turquoise water. We also stopped in at the Spiky Bridge.
As we headed south, we deviated off the main road and cruised along the Wielangta Forest Drive. It’s a relatively easy drive and there are a few lookouts to stop at.
Another little fishing town with a fabulous view no matter where you look.
We stopped in at the Dunelly Waterfront Cafe for a dark chocolate brownie with ice cream and chocolate sauce. Boomer Island is visible from the deck of the cafe, distinguished by the large castle atop the hill. The whole island is privately s owned by a local businessman, Gunter Jaeger, who was the previous owner of the Hope and Anchor Hotel in Hobart.
We found ourselves back at Dunelly later that night, when we found Fortesque Bay camp ground fully booked for the night. The Dunelly Hotel offers free camping in the back paddock, which was an absolute lifesaver!
There are a few things to see on the Tasman Peninsula. One of our favourites was the Tessellated Pavement, an unusual rock formation of rectangular ‘pans’ and ‘loaves’. Nearby rock formations include the Tasmans Arch, Devil’s Kitchen and Blowhole.
On your way there, be sure to pay attention to a residential area called Doo Town. All the houses have signs out the front that play with the name of the area – toucan doo, make doo, doo n time, much a doo, just doo it, doo love it, Dr Doolittle, doo mee, doo f#%& all. It was a little funny.
If you need to do any grocery shopping, Nubeena is the place to do it. There is an express IGA just outside of town and a larger IGA in town, opposite the skatepark and playground where the public toilets are locked at 5pm.
The most famous thing to do on the Tasman Peninsula is visit the Port Arthur historic site. We did the night Ghost tour, which has been running for over 20 years.