The Great Eastern Drive in Tasmania runs along Tasmania’s eastern coastline from Orford in the south to St Helens in the north. This streatch of coast is known for its stunning capes, beautiful bays, world class wine, and phenomenal local produce and seafood.
Picturesque seaside villages are separated by lengths of wild and beautiful beaches, dramatic headlands, and serene bays protected by national parks.
The bountiful hinterland is characterized by green rolling hills dotted with wineries, dairy, sheep and cattle farms, and of course, apple orchards.
Along the way some of the region’s best experiences can be had. Here are 17 amazing things to do on the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania.
Taste as Many East Coast Tasmania Wines as Possible
The east coast in Tasmania is one of the four wine regions in Tasmania, so it is no wonder that the Great Eastern Drive in Tasmania would meander through the vineyards and wineries that dot the eastern coastline.
It is hard to choose just which of the East Coast Wine Region to include which is why we included them all. Whether you spend a day or two hopping from one cellar door to the next or stop by a few as you continue your road trip, the choice is up to you.
Tasmania is most known for chardonnay and pinot nior which is what you will mostly find at the wineries along the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania. There are a few that are branching out, but not far from the standard wines found in Australia.
If you do not know where to start, we have done a bit of the leg work. Head over to Boomer Creek Vineyard for absolutely stunning views over Little Swanport estuary. Not only is the location of their cellar door amazing, but their wines were some of our favorites along the East Coast Wine Trail.
If you are looking for something a bit more full bodied, check out Craigie Knowe. Here you will find your standard chardonnay and pinot nior, but these guys also have a cracking Cabernet in their line up.
And if you simply do not have the time to stop in at every winery that you see along the way, consider checking out The Farm Shed in Bicheno. Born out of a vision to offer a one stop shop for the east coast wineries and to allow those without a cellar door to showcase their wines, The Farm Shed is the perfect place to sample a variety of wines from the region.
Tongola Cheese in Copping
The Tongola Cheese company is technically not part of the Great Eastern Drive, but you will drive past if you are finishing or beginning your adventure in Hobart.
Tongola Cheese specializes in goat cheese. Tongola Cheese is simply one of the best goat cheeses I have tasted, it is a shame I cannot get this at home.
While technically there is no farm gate at Tongola Cheese, you can ring ahead and if available these guys will let you pop in to grab some of their amazing cheeses. Alternatively, you can also pick up some of these amazing cheeses at Cape Bernier Winery, a winery that I would 100% recommend even though it again is technically not on the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania.
Catch the Ferry to Maria Island National Park
Catch the 30-min ferry to Maria Island from Triabunna to step-back into history and to be awed by nature. The entire island has been designated a national park, for its incredible natural wealth and significance.
Here it is all about exploring the outdoors! You won’t find any cars here, but there are plenty of trails to discover by foot or by bike.
Camping is allowed on Maria Island for those looking to do multi-day hikes.
Keep your eyes peeled for wombats here. These cuddly marsupials quite possibly are my favorite animal found here in Australia!
Try a Scallop Pie at Bark Mill Tavern & Bakery in Swansea
There is much debate about the origin of the curried scallop pie, but there is one thing for sure, this dish is one of Tasmania’s most recognizable meals. Found at any bakery along Tasmania’s coast, tasting this local specialty while visiting Tasmania is a must.
For a real local experience, grab a curried scallop pie from the Bark Mill Tavern & Bakery and head to Waterloo or Jubilee Beach for lunch with a view over Coles Bay.
Stroll Along the Loontitetermairrelehoiner Track for Views Over Coles Bay and Mount Freycinet
Easier done than said, the Loontitetermairrelehoiner track is considered one of the best short walks in Tasmania.
The seaside town of Swansea is one of the many beautiful coastal towns along the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania. One of the highlights of visiting Swansea is strolling along the Loontitetermairrelehoiner Track, named after the Aboriginal people indigenous to this area.
While the name might be challenging, the walk is simply an easy 2.3 km circuit with views over the stunning Freycinet Peninsula and Schouten Island. One of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks, it is a walk not to be missed along the Great Eastern Drive.
Indulge on Oysters at Melshell Oyster Shack in Dolphin Sands
Tassy oysters are almost as iconic as Tassy wine. Tasmanian oysters are in high demand throughout Australia and once you get to Tassy to sample a few, you will know just why. And, in our opinion, the oysters from Melshell Oyster Shack in Dolphin Sands may just be some of the best Tasmania oysters around!
A small shack located 10 kilometers of the highway along a desolate road on Pelican Bay, there is no other reason you would be driving in this direction if it were not for the oysters. But it’s a good reason so many people make the drive.
Bring along your favorite bottle of Tasmanian wine you found along the Great Eastern Drive and treat yourself to some of the most delectable oysters in Australia.
* Melshell Oyster Shack has temporarily closed until November 2021. In the meantime, the Freycinet Marine Farm is your next closest stop for oysters.
Hike to Wine Glass Bay and Camp Under the Stars at Wine Glass Bay Campsite
One of the most recognizable beaches in the world, Wine Glass Bay is one of the many great things to do on the Great Eastern Drive. While we opted to tackle the Freycinet Peninsula Circuit which is a multi-day hike in the Freycinet National Park, the crown jewel can easily be viewed and explored in easier day hikes. Whether you take the easy trail to the Wine Glass Bay Lookout or the more stenuous scramble to the top of Mount Amos, you will be rewarded with magnificent views over Wine Glass Bay.
Be Blown Away by the Bicheno Blowhole
Blow holes a common sight along the Tasmanian coast and the blow hole at the seaside village of Bicheno is a great example. We visited on a particularly dreary day with rough seas which made for some pretty impressive “blows”.
Eat Fresh Seafood at The Lobster Shack in Bicheno
If you only have time to do one thing in Bicheno, eat at The Lobster Shack. What I guess once was a shack is now a renovated restaurant and well-oiled operating machine serving up some of the best fresh seafood that I have had in Tasmania and perhaps even in Australia.
While the star of the show here is the lobster, this comes at a pretty penny at $65 for you guessed it… just a half. (It’s Australia, you aren’t going to get the $10 lobster you can find in Colombia.) If you can’t (or won’t) pony up the cash for a half lobster, try the lobster roll instead. Absolutely amazing.
And if you don’t enjoy eating lobster, there are plenty of other delicious seafood options available. We also tried the seafood chowder which was quite possibly better than the lobster (just don’t tell them I said so)!
Tackle One of the Many Mountain Bike Trails Near St. Helens
Mountain biking is one of the most popular activities along the northern end of the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania. With over 18 different St. Helens Mountain Bike Trails to choose from any enthusiasts would be in heaven.
The most popular of all of the St. Helens Mountain Bike Trails is Bay of Fires Trail. Starting in the Blue Tier Forest Reserve, the Bay of Fires Trail traverses 42km of terrain before ending in the picturesque and internationally known Bay of Fires!
Try to Glimpse the Bicheno Penguins
I learned at some point in my twenties that penguins did not live exclusively with Santa in the north pole, and that they, in fact, lived in many other (real) places around the world. While the most recognizable penguins in their black tuxedos live in Antarctica, there are other types of penguins that live in the southern hempisphere!
There are many places to see penguins in Tasmania, but only one on along the Great Eastern Drive. In Bicheno there are two options for seeing the fairy penguins, one at Waubs Beach and the other at Redbill Beach. You can arrange a tour with Bicheno Penguin Tours or you can choose to DIY your penguin spotting adventure.
If you go alone, make sure to keep your voices down to not disturb the Bicheno penguins in their natural habitat and do not use flash when taking photos.
Camp Behind the Dunes at the Bay of Fires
One of the crown jewels on Tasmania’s east coast is the Bay of Fires. A stetch of coastline some 50km long, Bay of Fires is most recognizable by its crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches and orange lichen-covered granite boulders. Named the Bay of Fires by Captain Tobias Furneaux who first saw the fires of the local Aboriginal people on the beaches before arrival.
There is not much to do at the Bay of Fires except to relax and enjoy the beautiful nature that surrounds you. Go on walks along the stretch of coastline, peer into the rock pools in search of marvelous sea creatures, fish off the rocks, or take to the water and scuba dive or snorkle. Whatever you choose to do, it is guaranteed that your time in the Bay of Fires will be fantastic. Of course that is unless you have gale forced wind and rain as we did!
Get Windswept at Friendly Beaches
Before leaving the Freycinet Peninsula make sure to check out Friendly Beaches. A five kilometer stretch of exposed beautiful beach, Friendly Beaches holds a spot on the list of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks and should be a stop over on road trip along the Great Eastern Drive in Tasmania. Take an hour or two to stroll along the pristine beaches and marvel at the roar of the Tasman Sea.
Friendly Beaches camping is also a great place to stay overnight for free on the Freycinet Peninsula. This first-come, first-serve basis for a maximum of 14 nights. Spots here fill up fast especially during the summer and holiday season.
Get Fresh Scallops at Binalong Bay
Binalong Bay is not only the gateway to the Bay of Fires but is also an amazing spot to grab fresh scallops right off the boat. Simply grab and go to cook up a fabulous meal at your stunning campsite behind the Bay of Fires!
Hike the Mount William Summit for Stunning Views over the Bay of Fires
Mount William National Park is in the far northeast corner of Tasmania at the northern end of the Bay of Fires. Mount William, for which the park is named, is an excellent view point for vistas over the Bay of Fires and on a clear day, all the way to the Furneaux Islands in Bass Strait.
The 3.6km return Mount William summit trail in Tasmania (not to be confused with the Mount William summit trail in the Grampians in Victoria) is a moderately easy 90-minute hike ascending just 140 meters from the carpark. The start of the track is relatively gradual and easy, but ends in a steep ascent to reach the summit. But the view is worth it in the end!
Don’t forget a Tasmania National Park Pass is required to visit all Tasmania National Parks!
Grab Coffee at Swims Coffee in Scamander
Swims Coffee in Scamander is a great stop on the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania for delicious coffee and breakfast. Housed in an old shipping container, the small coffee shop enjoys ocean views, and a warm sunlit space to enjoy their absolutely delicious coffee.
They may not have a large menu with only two toasties (veggo and non-veggo) and freshly baked goods available, they have mastered what they do. If you are fortunate to visit when it is not raining, there is a large outdoor space with comfy bean bags and seating or grab a seat at the bench with views back over the Tasman Sea.
Buy Fresh Produce from Roadside Stalls along the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania
One of our favorite things about Tasmania is the local produce available. It seem as though around ever bend on the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania, there is another roadside stall selling everything from fruit and vegetables to free range eggs to homemade cheese and even homebaked bread.
Do yourself a favor and head to the bank to pick up some cash before embarking on your road trip along the Great Eastern Drive. Each roadside stall has an honesty box, so having the correct change is important!
Where to Stay on the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania
There are plenty of amazing places to stay along the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania. Whether you are looking for free campsites, luxury acccommodation or something in between, there is something for everyone.
Free Camping Great Eastern Drive Tasmania
There is no shortage of great free camping areas along the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania. The problem is making sure that they are still available when you visit as these spots are first-come first-serve and during the summer and holiday season can be packed. Here are a list of our favorite free camping spots along the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania.
- The Mayfield Bay Campsite & Conservation Area
- Located in Rocky Hill, this campsite is donation-based. Toilets are available on site and tents are welcome! With stunning views over Great Oyster Bay and the Freycinet Peninsula, free camping in Tasmania does not get much better than this!
- Friendly Beaches Camping
- A great option to stay when exploring the Freycinet Peninsula and Freycinet National Park. A national parks pass is required to camp here, but camping is free. Pit toilets are available. There is limited Telstra service in the area.
- Lagoons Beach Campground
- Located approximately halfway between Bicheno and the Bay of Fires is the Lagoons Beach Campground in Chain of Lagoons. This beach front camping is top notch and a must on any Great Eastern Drive Tasmania. Toilets and Telstra reception are available.
- Scamander Forest Reserve
- Scamander Forest Reserve is located in behind Scamander in the hinterland at the beautiful Trout Creek. Camping here is available for tents and campervans only as the access road is narrow, windy and steep at some sections. Pit toilets are available, however, fires are banned.
- Bay of Fires
- The Bay of Fires Conservation Area is home to numerous free camping spots. Choose from Swimcart Beach, Cosy Corner North, Seatons Cove, Sloop Reef Bay and more! A few of the campsites have pit toilets, some have Telstra service, but all have stunning views over the Bay of Fires.
This is a list of just the free camping locations along the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania. There are plenty of paid camping locations as well such as the Freycinet National Park and in each of the small coastal towns.
Hotel Accommodation Great Eastern Drive Tasmania
If “roughing” it by camping is not for you, there are plenty of great options to choose from along the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania
- Beezneez B&B | Orford
- Located at the start of the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania, the Beezneez B&B is a welcoming place to rest your head. With cozy rooms and a delicious breakfast, you can’t go wrong stopping here. Prices start at $125 per night for two.
- Twamley Farm
- For a rustic farm experience, stay at Twamley Farm located in the Great Eastern Drive hinterland. A stay in the unique 1840s converted stable decorated in a farmhouse chic, will complete any romantic holiday to Tassy! Prices here start at $259 per night for two, but will sure to be a unique experience!
- Wheel House Studio | Bicheno (for couples on a budget)
- For basic accommodation only 600 meters from the city center of Bicheno, check out Wheel House Studio. Suitable only for two, it is a great option for couples on a budget with prices starting as low as $77 for the night with breakfast included.
- Sea Stacks at Denson Beach | Denson Beach
- Yet another stunning accommodation along the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania is the Sea Stacks at Denson Beach. These modern pods are designed to capture the best of Tasmania, the surrounding nature. Wake up to beautiful rural views over the Tasmania farm land in your luxury accommodation. A two night minimum is required here and will set you back at a minimum $550, but it will be worth it in the end!
- Seymore Waves | Seymore/Bicheno (for families)
- Seymore Waves, a beautiful three-bedroom family home, is the perfect base for families looking to explore the Great Eastern Drive. Only 15 minutes from Bicheno and a two-minute walk from the beach, you will have everything you need for any Tassy holiday! Prices start at $190 for the night.
- Scamander Sanctuary Holiday Park | Scamander
- Spend the evening glamping at the Scamander Sanctuary Holiday Park. These beautifully decorated glamping tents are perfect for a unique experience in Tasmania. Glamping tents range from two persons to a six person family glamping tent with prices starting at $97 for the night.
- The Surfside Beaumaris
- Stop it at The Surfside Beaumaris for a low-key type of holiday. With clean rooms, decent burgers, and a pool table, you cannot really go wrong as you continue on your road trip along the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania. Prices start from $61 making it a great option for the budget-conscious.
There are so many great things to do and see as you drive along the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania. From stunning natural to delicious food and wine to outdoor adventures, there is something for everyone.
We greatly enjoyed our road trip up the Great Eastern Drive Tasmania and hope you do too! Let us know in the comments!
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