There’s something about the Great Eastern Drive on Tasmania’s East Coast that gets inside your soul and changes you for the better. Taking time to explore this incredibly scenic part of the world is much more than just another holiday. It’s an opportunity to stop, take a deep breath and let the natural beauty and relaxed pace transform your well-being.
Our country hospitality offers a warm welcome as you travel along our coastline and through our hinterlands. Breathe in the fresh air and take in the views, where gorgeous landscapes meet the ocean. It’s a place of stunning coastline, incredible national parks, world-famous beaches, award-winning walks, and views that will take your breath away. Add to this vibrant towns, lush vineyards, world-class mountain bike trails, fantastic food and fresh produce, and you have all the ingredients to reconnect and refresh.
Mid-spring on the East Coast is the perfect time to fill your lungs with our fresh coastal air, fulfill your appetite with our fresh produce and, find that perfect spot where you can refresh and reconnect.
Stop and smell the flowers
The East Coast of Tasmania is a must see in springtime, from September, with huge varieties of pinks, purples, yellows, and whites. Coastal heathlands and many wattles are also flowering August – October. The yellow rock orchid (Dockrillia striolata) is only found on Tasmania’s East Coast and Flinders Island. It is more prolific in the month of October and near Bicheno where masses of it grow on every possible crevice on Elephant Rock and smaller areas on the Whalers Lookout walk.
There are many other native orchids and flowers on the East Coast which can be found from Musselroe Bay, Bay of Fires, Winifred Curtis Reserve in Scamander, Douglas Apsley National Park, Freycinet National Park, Bicheno Whalers Lookout and Elephant Rock, Maria Island, Loontitetermairrelehoiner Walk in Swansea, Maria Island and many more locations.
Slow down, take a walk
Sometimes walking is the best way to discover something wonderful. Slowing down to a walking pace lets us see and experience things we would otherwise miss. Tasmania’s East Coast has places that were made to discover on foot—from the region’s three diverse national parks, Maria Island, Freycinet and Douglas Aspley, to world-famous Bay of Fires, foreshore walks, rainforests and endless beaches. Walk at your own pace or join one of the region’s multi award-winning guided walking experiences in the Bay of Fires, Freycinet National Park and the wonderful Maria Island. Every town has something unique to offer. From short walks along the coast, history walks, long beach strolls and multi day hikes.
Meandering on the Great Eastern Drive is almost like moving through a great art gallery, where every step reveals a new masterwork that just takes your breath away. There are countless opportunities to stop and soak up the fabulous views—and many of them have additional reasons to take a little time to linger. You’ll find picture-perfect places all along the way to pull over and get lost in the scenery. Make sure you have your camera ready because this place has photo opportunities everywhere.
Dip your toes in the water
Expect the unexpected and uncrowded beaches on Tasmania’s East Coast. You know you’re really reconnecting when your feet first touch the sand on a long, empty beach. Take off your shoes, get the sand between your toes and walk, swim, fossick for shells or just lie back and snooze in the sunshine.
Just stop anywhere along the East Coast —from the lovely Raspins, Shelly and Spring Beaches at Orford to the white sands of Binalong Bay and the Bay of Fires—choose a slice of bay that appeals to you, kick off your shoes and wander.
The coast between Orford and Swansea has beautiful beaches facing onto Great Oyster Bay. Stop anywhere along this part of the coast, including Little Swanport and Mayfield Bay, to explore. Nine Mile Beach, near Swansea is a must-visit. The coastline known as the Surf Coast (Seymour, Chain of Lagoons, Four Mile Creek, Falmouth, Scamander and Beaumaris) is a long, languid collection of beaches and towns that includes some of the best surf spots you’ll find anywhere on the island. This is a place to pack your beach gear, disconnect your devices, and surrender to a true coastal holiday experience.
The Freycinet Peninsula has some of the best-known beaches, including Wineglass Bay, considered one of the world’s most beautiful. Take the one-hour return walk (1.5 km each way) to the Wineglass Bay Lookout. Take some extra time to soak up the view or descend to the beach to get your feet wet and spend a morning, afternoon or whole day relaxing on the warm, white sand or strolling at your own pace.
Other beaches close to Coles Bay include Richardson’s Beach, Muir’s Beach and the incredible Friendly Beaches, a huge stretch of glorious coastline.
Bird watching and birding for the soul
Birds are some of the most fascinating animals to watch. Their calls bring much joy to the outdoors, and even just a few fleeting sightings is good for the soul. Look and listen out for some of our locals as you make your way along the East Coast.
Located between Swansea and Coles Bay, Moulting Lagoon is a large wetland of extraordinary beauty at the northern end of Great Oyster Bay. Named because it is a traditional moulting place for black swans, it is home to many rare and significant plants and animals. The lagoon and the adjacent marshes have been identified as an Important Bird Area because they regularly support over 1% of the world populations of black swans and pied oystercatchers. You may also spot other waterbirds on the lagoon in substantial numbers – perfect for capturing in a bird watching app.
On the beaches at the Bay of Fires Conservation Area, keep a lookout for a variety of different shore birds and the occasional white-bellied sea eagle. The critically endangered swift parrot can be seen occasionally in the warmer months. They return to Tasmania from Victoria and New South Wales to breed in the blue gum forests in the Bay of Fires hinterland and feed on the nectar of blue gum flowers.
Maria Island is also one of the best places in Tasmania for bird watching. All but one of the State’s twelve endemic birds can be found on the island, as well as cape Barren geese and Tasmanian native hens. The spectacular cliffs wrapped around the eastern side of Maria Island, provide a perfect vantage point for watching birds dive and swoop into the ocean.
A total delight is watching the penguins come ashore of a night in Bicheno. You won’t be able to help but smile when you see their little feathered bodies waddling up to their nesting rooks.
The East Coast forests and hinterlands are also abundant with bird life. Douglas Apsley National Park, and the forests around Weldborough and Pyengana are definitely places to visit!
Wake up with nature
For a true taste of reconnecting in the great outdoors, camping on Tasmania’s East Coast is a must-do experience. Imagine waking up from the roof top tent overlooking a deserted beach – where you are the only soul to breathe in the serenity.
The East Coast has some of the best camping locations you’ll find anywhere—including some of the world’s most beautiful beaches at Freycinet National Park and the Bay of Fires, and the World Heritage-listed Darlington probation station at Maria Island. Camping opens the door to experiences you’ll never forget—think close encounters with wildlife, a bottle of fine Tasmanian pinot by the campfire, and a sky so full of stars you won’t want to go to sleep.
Whether you prefer back to nature or outdoor luxury, you’ll find your ideal camping holiday on the Great Eastern Drive Journey—from guided bushwalking tours to holiday parks, cabins and free camping. Click here to download our Holiday Park and Camping Guide.
Hero Image credit: Bay of Fires, Rambler Travel Series