Tasmania has so many stunning natural wonders and hiring a car and doing a road trip is a great way to see the island state. However, with limited time it is impossible to see everything. So here is my list of five must visit natural locations on the East Coast of Tasmania.
1 – Bay of Fires
In 2009, the Bay of Fires was named by Lonely Planet as the hottest travel destination in the world. The Lonely Planet guide described Bay of Fires as “white beaches of hourglass-fine sand, Bombay Saphhire sea, an azure sky – and nobody”. While the sand, sea and sky have stayed the same, there are a lot more people now visiting this pristine location. It is also famous for its orange lichen covered granite boulder which have been shown around the world in countless photos.
The Bay of Fires conservation area is located in the northern part of the east coast of Tasmania. While it is called the Bay of Fires it is actually a series of bays stretching from Eddystone Point in the north to Binalong Bay in the south.
The name, Bay of Fires, comes from the Aboriginal fires that Captain Tobias Furneaux saw as he sailed along the coast in 1773.
You need to spend at least a day, if not longer at the Bay of Fires. You can drive from cove to cove and explore the beaches, rock pools and boulders along the way. As you travel along the bay you will find some busy beaches, but you will also come across more secluded areas which make for great photo opportunities as well as exploring.
If you have less than a day, it is quickest to reach the southern end which is a 13 km stretch of coast from Binalong Bay north to The Gardens. Binalong Bay is about 16k km north of St Helens.
On the day we visited the Bay of Fires it was overcast and rained on and off. We stayed the night in St Helens and when we woke up the next morning it was a beautiful sunny day. So we headed back up to Binalong Bay to get some photos with a blue sky.
2 – Bicheno Blow Hole
Bicheno is a seaside town north of the Freycinet Peninsula and 88 km south of Binalong Bay in the Bay of Fires. The blow hole is a short walk out onto the rocks and due to the power of the ocean, the blow hole shoots water to varying heights every few minutes.
The blow hole is powerful, and you need to keep your distance. But it does make for great photos.
There are other places to visit in Bicheno but give yourself at least an hour to spend at the blow hole to get some great photos of the blow hole itself and also of the amazing shoreline around it.
3 – Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park
Wineglass Bay is part of Freycinet National Park and is found about 18 km south of Bicheno. The pristine beach has been named one of the best beaches in the world at different times.
The National Park and Wineglass Bay is very popular. When we arrived the car park was full and cars were parked along the road leading to the car park. We ended up parking about 1.5 km from the car park and walking from there. As the road is only one lane each way, with national park on each side, you need to walk along the road to the car park so you do need to watch for cars and buses.
There are different walks that you can take but the most popular is the walk to Wineglass Bay. But it is important to understand that it is not an easy walk. You need to head uphill on a well maintained path to a lookout overlooking Wineglass Bay first. This walk is about 1.5 km and is fairly steep. Once you reach the lookout you will be welcomed by spectacular views of not only Wineglass Bay but Freycinet National Park and the ocean also.
The walk from the lookout to the beach is about 1.3 km. When heading back from the beach it is a steep climb over rough and uneven bush rock steps. You will need a reasonable level of fitness to do this walk. You need a minimum of 4 hours to visit Wineglass Bay. If you want to spend time at the beach, you should plan to spend longer.
If you want to visit but do not want to exert yourself, a boat cruise to Wineglass Bay may be more to your liking.
4 – Maria Island
Maria Island is about a 30 minute boat ride from Triabunna. Triabunna is about 85 km south of Freycinet National Park and the same distance north of Hobart.
When visiting the island there are four main options. As we only had a day, we decided to take a boat trip around the island which stops in a beautiful bay on the far side of the island for lunch and allows you to spend a couple of hours on the island in the afternoon before returning to Tribunna. You can also take the ferry to the island for a day trip, camp on the island or take a four day guided hike around the island.
Our boat trip around the island gave us the opportunity not only to see the amazing coastline but also sea birds and dolphins.
The island is a significant historical site. It is home to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Darlington Probation Station which makes up part of the 11 Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property. The station consists of 14 convict buildings and is the most intact example of a probation station in Australia.
But it is not only the convict history that you visit the island for. Maria island, like the sea around it, has an array of wildlife.
5 – Tessellated Pavement
The Tessellated Pavement is a state reserve is at Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania. It is about 83 km south of Triabunna and 25 minutes from the historic Port Arthur site.
We stayed at Eaglehawk Neck overnight which allowed us to take the short drive to Port Arthur to be there when it opened. It also allowed us to see this amazing formation both at dusk and the following morning.
From the Tessellated Pavement State Reserve car park it takes a couple of minutes to walk along a bush track and down a few flights of stairs to this amazing rock formation.
The formation began around 60 million to 160 million years ago when pressure caused cracks in the rock. Since then the ocean has eroded the areas between the cracks giving the tiled appearance we see today.
The rocks can get slippery so be careful when walking on them.
For more on the Tessellate Pavement, click here.