The beautiful Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay are the star attractions of Tasmania’s east coast, but there’s much more to explore.
There are many ways to admire the svelte curve of Tasmania’s world-renowned Wineglass Bay that’s tucked within the Freycinet National Park like an inverted comma. You could attempt the steep bushwalk, which takes about two hours and offers glistening bay views from a lookout as well as a chance to immerse yourself in the state’s rugged landscape. Or you could get right in the middle of it by joining a catamaran cruise to observe the beach and the mountains that arch before you like Mother Nature’s amphitheatre.
But to really take in the spectacle of the slender, arching white beach descending into mesmerising blue waters, do what we did – hop into a Cessna 172 four-seater aircraft. Taking off from the Friendly Beaches Airfield, the 30-minute scenic flight circles around the Freycinet Peninsula, offering bird’s-eye views of Wineglass Bay, Coles Bay and the Hazards gleaming granite mountain range. Don’t forget to ask your pilot to point out the beach at Friendly Beaches. Eleven kilometres of pristine white sand, the strip is within striking distance of the Freycinet National Park thoroughfare Coles Bay Road, yet there’s not a tourist or tour bus in sight here. It’s the perfect hidden gem to head to after your scenic flight if you want some sun and sand.
A trip to Tasmania’s east coast, however, is not just about the Freycinet National Park. There are wineries and quaint towns, luxury accommodation and stunning lookouts. So plan ahead, follow our guide and make the most of your weekend.
Perched on a cliff, about 90 minutes north-east of Hobart, the absolute-waterfront Avalon Coastal Retreat offers almost 360-degree views of Great Oyster Bay and the mountains beyond from its sprawling living room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows on three sides. There are three bedrooms – each with a queen-sized Tasmanian oak bed – and just as many bathrooms so it’s perfect for a family or a group of friends. Enjoy modern comforts such as heated floors, a fully kitted-out kitchen and wi-fi, or grab a towel and take the direct access path to the nearby secluded beach for some downtime.
11922 Tasman Highway, Rocky Hills; 1300 361 136
Breakfast at Avalon Coastal Retreat
There’s no point in leaving the luxury confines of your waterside holiday home when there’s a pantry and fridge chock-full of breakfast supplies – jams, spreads, biscuits, chipolata sausages and freshly baked breads, as well as eggs and yoghurt from local growers. And there’s a Nespresso machine for a caffeine fix first thing in the morning.
Lunch at Devil’s Corner Cellar Door
Bold architecture meets sweeping vineyard and water views at the recently revamped Devil’s Corner Cellar Door, 10 minutes south of the town of Bicheno. Climb the eight-metre-tall viewing tower, designed by Hobart-based Cumulus Studio (the architecture firm behind Tasmania’s Pumphouse Point) for Instagram-perfect images, then settle down with a wood-fired pizza or fish and chips in the outdoor dining area. And don’t forget to taste some of the estate’s stellar cool-climate pinot noir.
Sherbourne Road, Apslawn; 03 6257 8881
Dinner at Homestead Restaurant
Set over 94 hectares, Piermont is a scenic retreat with a pool, a polo field and 15 freestanding stone cottages. At the heart of the property is the recently opened Homestead Restaurant, where chef Chad Woolford delights diners with wonderfully fresh produce – abalone caught from the waters right in front of the retreat and grass-fed eye fillet from the state’s Cape Grim region. Arrive early to admire the Great Oyster Bay views, amplified to the point of storybook perfection in the setting sun’s soft golden glow.
Tasman Highway; 03 6257 8131
Spend some time in Bicheno
The east coast of Tasmania is dotted with scenic lookouts but there’s nothing quite as furiously dramatic as the blowhole in Bicheno. Get here just before sunset for great photo opportunities, then stay back for an after-dark excursion with Bicheno Penguin Tours to get within metres of the waddling little creatures.
Kayak in Coles Bay
Explore the scenic waterfront of Coles Bay town on foot then hop into a kayak. You can row all the way to Hazards Beach and camp overnight.