A guide to one of Australia’s most stunning road trips, a truly scenic route between Launceston and Hobart. The east coast of Tasmania boasts some of the country’s most breathtaking coastal scenery.
You’ll be amazed how much natural beauty one road trip can pack in – from the fiercely coloured Bay of Fires, striking views of the Hazards mountain range, national parks with unique bushland and of course the world famous Wine Glass Bay. Plus, along the way there are quaint country towns to explore, native wildlife such as wallabies to spot out the car window, stops along the way to feast on an abundance of local produce, taste wine at renowned wineries and experience some of Tasmania’s most luxurious accommodation. Depending on your schedule, you could race through in four days or take your time to meander down the coast at a leisurely pace.
Tasmania’s second largest city is so much more than a gateway to the northern region of the state. Launceston will charm you with heritage architecture, epicurean delights, art galleries, lush parks, farmer’s markets and picturesque vineyards producing award-winning wines. For nature lovers and outdoorsy types, there is an abundance of activities at the nearby Cataract Gorge. See our ‘Guide to Launceston‘.
Stop off: Evandale
This historical little town is a worthwhile pit stop that’s only a short detour off the beaten track. Evandale has a quaint village atmosphere, an antique shop and a classic country bakery in the heart of town. Ingleside Bakery Cafe has a cosy interior brimming with bric-a-brac and traditional landscape paintings hang on the walls. If it’s sunny, sit outside and have a cup of tea in the whimsical courtyard complete with wrought iron seating and a garden that runs wild with vibrant, sweet-smelling flowers.
Stop off: St Columba Falls
Best thing about a road trip in Tasmania is that there is always somewhere picturesque to stretch the legs. Take a short hike at St Columba Falls. Walk through the cool and shady rainforest to the base of one of Tasmania’s highest falls.
Stop off: Pyengana Dairy Company
Watch out for the wayward cows along the country lanes on your way to Pyengana Dairy Company. At this rest stop you can appreciate freshly made produce straight from the source. Sample the cheese, an ice-cold milkshake or a few scoops of ice cream made from the milk of the cows you can see in the fields before you – now that’s ‘farm to table’. It’s hard to not feel at one with nature devouring this wholesome ice cream. Try the unique Tassie flavours such as leatherwood honey, lemon myrtle and wattle seed.
BAY OF FIRES
With it’s turquoise waters and orange-tinted boulders strewn across the coast, it’s easy to see why Bay of Fires was one of Lonely Planet’s hottest travel destinations in the world.
Just because it’s one of very few places to eat at Binnalong Bay doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent spot in it’s own right. Moresco has a sophisticated menu with a clear Mediterranean influence and gorgeous views of Binnalong Bay. It’s hard to look passed their signature dish – the fragrant Tasmanian seafood broth served with toasted sourdough. Again, this is another restaurant with a strong focus on fresh, local ingredients.
A short stroll from the beautiful Binalong Beach sits a beach house owned and run by a family of artists. If you book early enough you can experience this striking accommodation for yourself. The secluded surroundings amongst nature and the gorgeous design make Arthouse a consummate beachside retreat. Count a mere fifty steps towards the shoreline and you’ll feel sand between your toes.
Explore beaches + nature
Spend a few hours wandering barefoot and carefree, exploring the beaches and climbing over those strikingly coloured rocks that hug the shoreline.
Stop off: The Blue Shed, St Helens
Fancy some ocean-fresh seafood caught by the local fishing fleet at St Helens? With sweeping views of the bay at this picturesque little spot lunchtime is ideal for enjoying the vista.
If you haven’t exactly heard of the Freycinet Peninsula before, you’re sure to have come across its star attraction Wine Glass Bay. Wine Glass Bay is a regular inclusion in swoon-worthy lists of ‘the world’s best beaches’. Meanwhile, Freycinet National Park boasts golden sunsets and views of the pink granite mountains known as the Hazards. It’s really all about spectacular coastal scenery.
This darling coffee shop serves a decent brew in the heart of Coles Bay. Tombolo is all about a casual morning spent perusing the newspaper, enjoying a hearty cafe-style brekkie and taking in the charming view Great Oyster Bay.
Rumoured to be the best seafood along the Freycinet Peninsula, Freycinet Marine Farm offers a small menu dedicated to simple, fresh seafood. Do yourself a favour and get stuck into a dozen natural oysters paired with a chilled glass of white wine.For something hearty try the mussels with tomato and garlic sauce served with a bread roll, which is the perfect vehicle for mopping up that tasty sauce.
Eagle Peaks $$
The ocean view studios make for a pleasant couples retreat bragging views of Great Oyster Bay and the peninsula. We thoroughly recommended sitting back on your peaceful deck to enjoy the backdrop. This laidback setting is a great base for exploring the surrounding area. Also, the couple who run Eagle Peaks couldn’t be more friendly and are happy to give you advice of how best to spend your time in Freycincet.
The Coles Bay lodging is a little dated and the decor leaves much to be desired, however Freycinet Lodge feels at one with surrounding native bushland. It claims a fabulous location in the midst of Freycinet National Park and some pleasing views. Coles Bay and Wine Glass Bay are easily accessible, as are plenty of excellent hiking tracks and lookout points.
Saffire Freycinet $$$$
One of the uppermost luxury hotels in Australia can be found along the Freycinet coast. The world-class design is sympathetic to the breathtaking natural environment with touches of timber, stone and leather. The handsomely appointed suites appear straight out of a design magazine. Saffire Freycinet is the ultimate in rejuvenation and relaxation. A host of complimentary experiences are on offer such as; guided walks, wine tasting, kayaking, golfing, mountain biking and fishing. For foodies there is a mixology master-class, a luxe oyster tasting experience and a cooking demonstration to look forward to. Gastronomic delights don’t end there, Palate is one of Tasmania’s most exclusive restaurants as only Sapphire guests can experience the culinary showcase. Expect a seasonal degustation crafted with quality produce from east coast growers.
Wine Glass Bay lookout
Needless to say it’s worth a trip to the famous beach itself. Do not miss the breathtaking vista from the lookout point. That means you’ll have to partake in a moderate hike to reap the rewards of a spectacular view. Locals aren’t the only ones who know about this piece of paradise, it’s one of Tasmania’s most popular walks. Being hot and slightly out of breath will not detract from of a uniquely shaped bay, bright white sands and turquoise waters below.
Stop off: Gala Estate Vineyard
After visiting a few of the stock standard wineries, Gala Estate Vineyard charms with its charismatic, shabby-chic aesthetic. Picture a mint-green weatherboard cottage, complete with tin roof, old brick chimney and vines growing along the porch. Stop by for a taste of the award-winning Riesling and a picnic hamper brimming with local produce. Don’t forget to take a turn around the garden and spy the vintage car parked out-back.Other vineyards in the area worth visiting include Spring Vale Wines and Milton Vineyard. With all these incredible cellar doors, you’ll have to play ‘scissor-paper-rock’ for who’ll be the designated driver.
SWANSEA AND SURROUNDS
Driving around Swansea you’ll notice a few historic buildings. The red brick 1838 Morris General Store is a great pit stop to pick up some snacks for the road.
This boutique hideaway is ideal for creative couples or architectural aesthetes. The modernist house is perched on a hilltop surrounded by 250 acres of native forest, as well as views over the valley and across the ocean. Be warned, the drive up to Rocky Hills Retreat is quite bumpy (the name starts to make a lot a sense on the ascent) but once you reach this award-winning architectural paradise it’s nothing but tranquillity. With features like the luxurious king size bed, fully appointed kitchen, Huon pine outdoor bathtub and a converted church turned art studio located a short stroll away from the residence – you’ll never want to leave.
Stop off: Kate’s Berry Farm
Rows and rows of berry bushes lead your eyes towards a pleasant view of Freycinet National Park and Great Oyster Bay. The cute cottage (which is covered in purple wisteria flowers during the springtime) is home to Kate’s Dessert Cafe.
You’re in for a treat with a menu filled with all things berry. Whatever the time of day you should opt for the pancakes with vanilla bean ice cream and poached berry compote. Oh, but then there’s the hearty slice of one of Kate’s famous berry pies. Why not get both? Seeing you’re not at Kate’s Berry Farm everyday, you ought to pick up a few goodies for the road; jams, sauces and jellies, strawberry dessert wine or chocolate-coated raspberries.
The Portmanteau Press ‘Guide to Hobart’ coming soon…
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