100 reasons: East Coast
Slurp and sip your way through wineries, get an adrenaline rush mountain biking and take a cold seawater plunge on remote beaches. Plus much more.
This article is part of our 100 reasons to stay in Lutruwita/Tasmania this winter guide, created in partnership with Tourism Tasmania. This articles explores the 25 best reasons for the East Coast.
76. Find your flow
The Blue Tier end of the 42km Bay of Fires trail, connecting Derby with St Helens, closes over winter. However, from Ansons Road, you can enter at the halfway mark and ride from there to Swimcart Beach. A few kilometres from St Helens are Flagstaff Stacked Loops — all green and blue trails, better suited to beginners — and the advanced black-diamond Loila Tier trails. Dreaming Pools is a 27km adventure ride. Around St Helens you’re on North East Nation.
77. Catch a break
If you surf through Tasmanian winters, respect. As you’d know, mid-year conditions can be some of the most favourable with bigger waves and more reliable swells. Not that swell is something we’re particularly short on here. On the East Coast, head to Shelly, where peaks are (usually) as plentiful as affordable camping spots. There’s also Falmouth and, at Bicheno, Redbill Beach.
78. Pair up
Devil’s Corner, near Bicheno, with sweeping views across Oyster Bay to Freycinet Peninsula, is part of the Brown Family Wine Group. This Off Season, Devil’s Corner is offering a self-guided tasting experience: four wines from the premium range paired with hand-crafted Tutumaz and The Devil chocolates. Cellar-door tastings require a booking and a fee. No need to book to eat onsite at Tombolo Freycinet or The Fishers. This is on Oyster Bay Nation.
79. Take the plunge
Cold water immersion may offer certain health benefits such as supporting immunity, reducing inflammation and improving metabolism. It’s best done in a gorgeous environment where the water’s easy to get into and out of, such as a freshwater swimming hole. This winter, preferably on a still and sunny day, have a quick dip in a clear pool at Douglas-Apsley National Park near Bicheno. Afterwards, everyone’s eyes will be shining on Oyster Bay Nation.
80. Some days are diamond
When it’s low tide and calm weather, walk from Bicheno’s Redbill Beach out along the sand spit to Diamond Island. This little island, of less than 7ha, is an extensive rookery so stay on the rocks or the penguin paths so you don’t disturb anyone’s home. Look out for swift parrots and pelicans, and keep an eye on the rising tide. This sometimes-island and surrounding waters are part of Oyster Bay Nation.
81. Slurp and sip
"Oysters taste so much better in the winter,” says Melshell Oyster Shack owner Cassie Melrose. “Short sharp flavours. Feels like I’ve been for a swim in the ocean.” Enjoy Melshell oysters fresh or self-grilled on the fire pit. Shuck and Chat tours, in early winter, include a shucking lesson, a glass of sparkling, oyster tastings and half a dozen to yourself. Located at Dolphin Sands, on Oyster Bay Nation, it’s open 10am-4pm Mon-Fri.
82. Camp out
There are two ways to camp at Maria Island National Park. One is to pay a small fee for Darlington camping area, 500m from the ferry, and get undercover fireplaces, barbecues and toilets. The other is to venture south and free-camp near the isthmus. This Off Season, the Maria Island Brass Monkeys’ Swim Club is running a challenge: submerge yourself in the crystal-clear, freezing waters surrounding Maria Island. On Wukaluwikiwayna/Maria Island you’re on South East Nation.
83. Follow the river
St Columba Falls are surprisingly easy to get to and the rewards are great. They’re only a 30-minute drive from St Helens, turning off at Pyengana. The 15-minute hike to the falls is along a picturesque track through tree fern stands. Following South George River, the trail is mainly flat with some uphill and a few steps to the base of these impressive 90m falls. You’ll be travelling on North East Nation.
84. Pack to nature
The Off Season is such a good time to walk Freycinet National Park. The summer crowds no longer clog Wineglass Bay track and the sun has toned itself down for the steep and exposed hike up Mount Amos. If you’re feeling really keen there’s also 27km Freycinet Peninsula Circuit track, which generally takes two to three days and requires total self-sufficiency. Puthimiluna/country at Great Oyster Bay is part of Oyster Bay Nation. Members can save at Freycinet Lodge. T&Cs apply.
85. Wine your way around
Peak wine tasting, as we know, is sampling while chatting with the winemaker where the grapes were grown and the wine was made. This isn’t always possible, but it will happen at times on your self-guided tour of East Coast vineyards. The Discover Tasmania website makes it easy to know which wineries serve food, are equal-access, are dog-friendly and have special Off Season offers.
86. Forest bathe
Sabi is a stone and timber cottage at Larapuna/Bay of Fires that is beyond just being accommodation. Owners Jessica and Fred Eggleston have drawn heavily on Japanese cultural philosophies related to the healing properties of immersion in nature to create this space. This Off Season, guests can use the ice bath, onsen, wood fire, kimono-style robes and slippers with any two-night stay. Larapuna/Bay of Fires is on North East Nation.
87. Knight vision
Another beauty to tick off your 60 Great Short Walks of Tasmania list is at Evercreech Forest Reserve, outside Mathinna in the Fingal Valley. This 20-minute loop leads you to towering white gums (Eucalyptus viminalis) also called white knights or knightings. Some are more than 90m tall. Flowing through this reserve is Plipatumila/South Esk River. Learn about Mathinna, too – the name is far more than that of a town.
88. Fish to fry
Lobster Shack Tasmania has been serving seafood by the seaside for years. It’s a Bicheno staple, but there’s more great ocean cuisine in other pockets of this coastal town. Along with waterfront takeaways, there’s Food & Brew for a fancier seafood feed. Blue Edge Bakery is also a winner, especially when Mark makes seafood chowder packed with fish, prawns and scallops. At Bicheno, you’re on Oyster Bay Nation.
89. Do time
Darlington Probation Station, in Maria Island National Park, is one of only 11 Australian convict sites recognised as World Heritage by UNESCO. Historically, the probation system was unique to Tasmania and only lasted 14 years. On Maria, you can see 14 convict buildings and ruins, mainly of Georgian architecture, including the two-storey Commissariat Store (c.1825) near the jetty where the ferry docks. Wukaluwikiwayna/Maria Island, is on Oyster Bay Nation.
90. Go out of your way
St Marys Pass and Elephant Pass were both closed at length over the past year so make sure you give St Marys some love. “It’s such a friendly little town. The locals will say hello to you on the street and help you find where to go,” says Elaine Sullivan. She’s owned the Purple Possum for nearly 25 years and makes that famous rhubarb cake. St Patricks Head, nearby, is a rewarding slog. This area is Oyster Bay Nation.
91. Follow the trail
In the winter months, southern right whales, humpback whales and orcas migrate north. East Coast Whale Trail has 14 coastal stops between Eaglehawk Neck and St Helens where you have a better chance of seeing them. At Shelly Point and Barrel Beach there are even binoculars. Although there’s no guarantee you will see whales, this is a great way to learn more about them.
92. Enjoy this foreshore
When in Swansea, take a short walk that starts and ends at Jetty Road. Its name, loontitetermairrelehoiner, relates to a family group from this area. The 2.3km circuit trail takes in Waterloo Beach, Waterloo Point, Schouten Beach, a few blocks of the town and a muttonbird breeding area. The palawa kani name for this important bird is yula. Puthimiluna/country at Great Oyster Bay is part of Oyster Bay Nation.
93. Contain your excitement
According to Swims Coffee, “sunrises and specialty coffee is what we do best.” In a converted shipping container in Scamander, a block from Steels Beach, it’s open surfer-early seven days a week. Sprawl in a beanbag outside or find a sunny place inside next to a window. Swims is fully accessible and serves hot beverages, fresh toasties and bacon-and-egg rolls that will warm you right up. Scamander is on North East Nation.
94. Get marooned
A stone’s throw from Freycinet National Park, with views to the Hazards, Picnic Island is a privately owned island with high-end accommodation. They’re offering a three-night winter package for up to 10 people that includes water-taxi transfers. Puthimiluna/country at Great Oyster Bay is part of Oyster Bay Nation.
95. Rock the boat
Seeing Freycinet from the water is a different way to experience the national park. If it’s not too windy you can kayak from Coles Bay around the coastline towards Mayaluwarana/Schouten Island or hire a dinghy, casual cruiser or yacht. Pick your days and keep your wits about you. If you’d rather relinquish responsibility, take a boat tour or charter. You’ll be on Oyster Bay Nation.
Members can save on Pennicott Wilderness Journeys and Wineglass Bay Cruises through ract.clubconnect.com.au. T&Cs apply.
96. Get into the spirit
What are you doing on Saturdays in June and July? How about some tasting at Waubs Harbour Whisky? It’ll be around dusk by the fire in the distillery courtyard overlooking the ocean. The team will guide you through the range of single malts, accompanied by oysters and a tasting plate, while you soak in the view and breathe fresh coastal air. That’s every Saturday in June and July. Bicheno is on Oyster Bay Nation.
97. Go to ruins
From Orford bridge, on the northern bank of Prosser River, walk or ride Old Convict Road for about 2km to the ruins of Paradise Probation Station (such an ironic name). Visiting these convict era sites can give us a chance to reflect on and take lessons from aspects of our history. There, beside Lyamangina Minanya/Prosser River, you’re on Oyster Bay Nation.
98. Get in the market
You’ll know a place better after you’ve been to its market. At markets you see what produce comes from the area and who’s making art. You’ll likely fall into easy conversation with locals, flip through record collections and take home a treasure with a story. Find out if the East Coast town you’re visiting has wintertime markets, such as St Helens Market in Portland Hall every Saturday 9am-1pm.
99. Shack up
The term ‘shack’ is used pretty loosely these days in Tasmania, even in the classic seaside towns like Orford. If you’re looking for a holiday shack to rent, it’s more likely to be a three-bedroom house, but at least you’ll be comfortable. Raspins Beach Conservation Area, near town, is a breeding ground for redcapped and hooded plovers and fairy terns. This area, where Liyamangina Minanya/Prosser River meets the sea, is Oyster Bay Nation.
100. Take your pick
Bay of Fires didn’t get its name from the striking flame-coloured lichen decorating coastal boulders. In fact, it was given the name by early Europeans when someone counted more than 200 campfires and cultural burns in the landscape. There are many great camp spots along this coastline, mainly from The Gardens to Binalong Bay, and you probably have a favourite. Take wood.