Last summer, we published a Tasmanian self-drive itinerary taking in the best of the east coast (think wine, food, national parks and wildlife). While the temperature might have dropped since then, the appeal of this stunning corner of the country certainly hasn't – you'll just need to add your winter woolies and a few glasses of red into the mix.
To celebrate the launch of the new driving holiday e-guide from Spirit of Tasmania, we've adapted our road trip to start and end in Devonport. We recommend doing it over five days but the stops aren't too far apart, so you can combine the shorter legs if you’re pressed for time. And because you’ll probably need somewhere to crash too, we’ve recommended some of our favourite Beautiful Accommodation properties at each stop.
Day 1: Devonport to Swansea (2 hours 30 minutes)
Once you’ve disembarked the Spirit of Tasmania, head south-east from Devonport towards the east coast, home of the Freycinet Peninsula and some of the Apple Isle’s most spectacular coastal scenery. The beachside town of Swansea is set on the north-west shore of Great Oyster Bay and overlooks the picturesque Freycinet National Park. While away the afternoon with some cool-climate Tassie wines such as pinot noir, pinot gris, riesling, chardonnay and sparkling varieties. The cellar doors of Spring Vale, Freycinet Vineyard, Milton and Coombend Estate are all within a 20-minute drive of Swansea, your stop for the night.
Day 2: Swansea to Bicheno (35 minutes)
From Swansea, head to the Freycinet National Park, home of the famous Wineglass Bay. One glance at the stunning views from Wineglass Bay lookout and you'll see why it's one of the world’s most photographed beaches. There are plenty of bushwalks throughout the national park, but if you're feeling less energetic you can take one of the driving routes or even a scenic flight. For a different perspective of the park altogether, join a cruise to see it from the clear waters of the bay. Once you’ve finished exploring, jump back in the car for the 30-minute drive to Bicheno. After dark, join a penguin tour that night to get up close and personal with up to 100 fairy penguins.
Day 3: Bicheno to Binalong Bay (1 hour 15 minutes)
Just out of Bicheno is the Douglas-Apsley National Park – take one of the various bushwalks through the park and, when you've worked up a sweat, cool off in the Apsley River Waterhole. The scenic coastal views continue to Chain of Lagoons and up to the beachside towns of Scamander and Beaumaris. Keep heading north to the pretty fishing village of St Helens, where keen fishermen can join game fishing charters or throw a line into the numerous estuaries, bays and rivers nearby. After a seafood lunch at Blue Shed in St Helens, it’s just another 12km to Binalong Bay and Humbug Point Reserve, a hub of breathtaking views, walks, beaches, swimming, fishing, diving and bird watching.
Day 4: Binalong Bay to Launceston (2 hours 35 minutes)
Binalong Bay is a perfect jumping-off point for the beautiful Bay of Fires, a 29-kilometre stretch of pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, wildflowers and imposing rock formations. It’s not hard to see why Lonely Planet voted this area one of its Top 10 regions in the world a few years back. Once you’ve explored this must-see part of the world, head inland to Launceston. Travel via the country town of Scottsdale for pretty farmland views and, if you're there in December or January, be sure to schedule a stop at Bridestowe Lavender Estate to check out the rolling hills of lavender fields.
Day 5: Launceston to Devonport (1 hour 15 minutes)
If you’ve got some time to kill this morning, head to Cataract Gorge, just 15 minutes’ walk from the city centre and Launceston’s premier natural attraction. Beer lovers might also be interested in a tour of the historic Boag’s Brewery, which dates back to the 1880s. Still got a few hours up your sleeve? Indulge in the city’s impressive food and wine at places like Brisbane Street Bistro or Terrace Restaurant before jumping in the car for the 100-kilometre drive back to Devonport and the Spirit of Tasmania.