Great Eastern Drive

The commissariat store (1825) Maria Island National Park © David Lade

The commissariat store (1825) Maria Island National Park © David Lade

There are few things more Aussie than jumping in the car and heading for the coast. The road trip is one of our greatest national pastimes and the Great Eastern Drive, tracing a couple of hundred kilometres of Tasmania’s stunning east coast is one of our best kept secrets.

Starting in Hobart, the route travels north towards St Helens and takes two to five days depending on how relaxed you want to feel! First stop is Orford where you can explore the town’s rich convict history before heading to Triabunna to take the ferry to Maria Island National Park. Formerly a convict settlement, the island has spectacular scenery and wildlife so close you can almost touch it.

Get your camera ready for breathtaking views over Great Oyster Bay towards Maria and Schouten Islands and the Freycinet Peninsula, as you head for Swansea. Enjoy some fresh berry picking along the way and a photo opportunity at the convict built Spiky Bridge. Detour through wine country around Swansea and Coles Bay for tastings of award-winning local wines.

One of three national parks on the drive, the Freycinet National Park offers plenty to do amid some of the state’s most magnificent scenery. Visit the local Marine Farm to taste fresh oysters, take a walk to the Wineglass Bay lookout, kayak in the bay or enjoy a scenic flight up above.

From Freycinet via Friendly Beaches your next destination is the quaint seaside town of Bicheno. Take in the blowhole and a penguin tour, then finish the day off with a swim in the Apsley River Waterhole at Douglas-Apsley National Park. Stop to enjoy the unique coastal scenery of Chain of Lagoons before tackling the winding road up to Mount Elephant Pancake Barn then finish the adventure with sunset fishing at St Helens.

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