The Great Eastern Drive,
The Great Eastern Drive in Tasmania should be on your list of things to see on this magical gem of an island. This spectacular part of Tasmania ticks all of the boxes – pristine waterways, winding roads hugging spectacular coastline, vineyards, hiking, some of the best seafood produce in Australia, and accomodation for the ultimate weekend away…the east coast is truly spectacular.
An assault of colour is what awaits you as you drive up the coast. Azure blue oceans collide with firey orange lichen covered rocks, stretches of white sand beaches hug thick, green, dense bushland and mountainous peaks that change colour as the sun rises and sets are just some of the examples of how incredibly stunning and diverse this landscape is.
Driving through Orford you can’t help but notice Maria Island. Located off the east coast, Maria Island is only accessible by boat and is a nature lovers paradise. Offering some of the most incredible selection of wildlife, diverse and colourful landscapes that remain largely untouched by human progress, and steeped with brutal convict history, Maria Island captures the heart of anyone who visits her.
Passing through Apslawn and descending down a particularly winding road, you are greeted by the Hazards in the distance – a mountain range located in the Freycinet National Park. Drive a little further and you’ll find yourself at one of the most famous vineyards in Tasmania – Devils Corner Cellar Door. With the Hazards as the backdrop, and sitting at the edge of Moulting Lagoon, this vineyard has the most beautiful view to kick back and sip on some of the most incredible pinot noir in Australia and is the perfect first stop to a wine lovers weekend away. Drive a little further and you’ll come across Cranbrook a small township on the east coast dotted with more beautiful vineyards just begging to be explored – Gala Estate Vineyard, Craigie Knowe Vineyard, Springvale Vineyard & Cellar Door & Milton Vineyard. I was fortunate to explore these vineyards extensively through a chance meeting with a local who has created a vineyard experience like no other. Sally created Swansea Cycle Tours & Bike Hire and has designed bike tours to showcase the magnificent food and wine on offer here in Cranbrook. Most of the vineyards offer live entertainment during the warmer summer months making it an ideal weekend getaway.
Further north, Coles Bay awaits. The Freycinet National Park is the backdrop to this sleepy coastal town and is an outdoor lovers dream. With accomodation to suit everyone, Coles Bay is home to some of the most beautiful camping spots, and holiday homes. Freycinet Lodge offers cabins and coastal pavillions offering both water and bushland views and the convenience of onsite restaurants within the national park. Or, if pure opulence and luxury is more your style then Sapphire Freycinet may be the place for you. With Wineglass Bay, The Hazards, and Freycinet National Park to explore, it’s easy to see why Coles Bay is a hit with tourists and locals alike.
Bicheno is your next stop and it is here that the orange lichen covered boulders become more apparent. Every year in November the Bicheno Food & Wine Festival is held here and the town comes alive with people wanting to experience the very best in food, wine and live entertainment that the east coast of Tasmania has to offer. A little further north of Bicheno and off the beaten track deep within the Douglas-Apsley National Park you’ll find more options for camping, hiking and of course, taking a dip in the famous Apsley Waterhole.
Our last stop on The Great Eastern Drive is Binalong Bay. This stretch of coast is quite literally paradise. Coves of crystal clear waters and white sand nestled amongst orange lichen covered boulders – it’s easy to see why this natural wonder is called the Bay of Fires.
The Great Eastern Drive, boasts some of the most incredibly diverse landscapes and is unlike anything I’ve ever had the privilege to experience in my lifetime. So get in your car and go and experience it for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
If you’ve decided to take the plunge and explore this incredible island, then be sure to check out my travel guide to Cradle Mountain here.
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