Known for its rugged coastlines, diverse mountain ranges, vast wilderness, and Australian history; Tasmania is home to world class destinations, full of natural beauty so abundant it deserves to be explored! The 2 popular landing hubs at Launceston (North) and Hobart (South) make it easy to plan an adventurous road trip down the coastline, stopping in at world heritage sites along the way.
Let us guide you down the east coast of Tasmania as we uncover the 5 must visit destinations, from trawler fresh seafood, roadside pitstops, a splash of Australian history, and breathtaking hikes that are sure to leave you feeling realigned and fully emersed in the native surroundings Tassie has to offer!
First Up – Little Blue Lake
Drive From East Coast Car Rentals Launceston: 2 Hours
Little Blue Lake is infamously known for its turquoise blue waters, the natural anomaly is a result of historic mining in the areas of Mount Cameron and North-Eastern Tasmania. The abnormally high mineral content reflects a Kool-Aid turquoise blue color that is difficult not to be in awe-of. Just off Gladstone Road (Highway B82) Little Blue Lake is great for a little photo-op and a pitstop to stretch your legs, or a picnic to sit back, relax and take in the natural peaceful beauty of the lake. Although popular with local water skiers, it is not recommended to take a dip due to high mineral content. Nevertheless, Little Blue Lake is worth your while to add to your list.
Take your Launceston hire car a little further North to the nearby village of Gladstone. The small village is Tasmanian’s most north-eastern township making it a very historic part in the early days of Tasmania’s mining history. While here you can visit the furthest north-eastern headland, Cape Portland, or head into Mount William National Park begin your search for Tasmania’s only native Kangaroo – the Grey Forster. If you’re patient (and lucky) enough you might even come across the local Tasmanian Devil. The mining history and wildlife the coast regions of Mount William’s National Park mark the start of our next stop on this road trip.
Second – The Bay of Fires
Drive From Little Blue Lake in your Launceston Car Rental: 1 hr 12 min
A scenic 42-minute drive from Little Blue Lake in your Launceston car rental is the notorious Bay of Fires. What has easily become one of Tasmania’s most popular destinations known for excellent coastal hiking, guided tours, and marine life spotting, the Bay of Fires is home to fiery orange rocks, white sandy beaches, and crystal-clear waters. Stretching 50 kilometers down the east coast of Tasmania from Eddystone Point (North) to Binalong Bay (South) this special piece of coastline is divided into three sections; Anson’s Bay, The Garden’s, and the Bay of Fires located in Binalong Bay. If you’re an early morning riser, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to enjoy a coffee and take in the true beauty the Bay of Fires.
It is important to recognize that this area of coastline comes with historic indigenous roots, and home to the Palawa people, known to them as the larapuna. Their culture can still be seen throughout the landscape but only if you look carefully, the wukalina walk takes you on a 4 day/3 night hiking experience that is designed to inform and share the ancestral knowledge of the area.
Third – Dinner with a show – The G U L T C H in Bicheno
Drive From Bay of Fires in your Launceston Car Hire: 1 hr 40 min
Cruising our way down the coast from The Bay of Fires we make our way the small coastal town of Bicheno, nestled between Douglas-Apsley National Park and the Freycinet National Park this area on the coast is a hidden slice of paradise with crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches. Bicheno’s grown in popularity due to its quaintness, access to some of Tasmania’s best hiking trails, and of course the fairy penguin phenomena. The coastal town is highly populated with the cutest teeny-tiny fairy penguins every night. Skip the nightly tours and take your hire car down to the Bicheno Blowhole for sunset, and once dusk hits you’ll see lines of penguins making their way from the sea to their homes for the even. Make sure you’re careful while driving your rental car through these Tasmanian roads, as these little dudes like to freely roam the streets of Bicheno at night.
If Bicheno wasn’t already on your list, The Gulch is the cherry on top of this great little town. The vast biodiversity of the Tasmanian sea provides us with top-tier seafood, and the team at the Gulch do their part every morning to go out to provide their guests with some of the best in the world. From the welcoming service, no-frills interior design, and the freshly caught seafood that make for some of – if not the best seafood on the east coast of Tasmania, this is a true hidden gem that many travelers wish they knew about before embarking on their trip!
Number 4 – Wine Glass Bay
Drive From Bicheno in your Launceston Car Rental: 37min
Shortly after leaving Bicheno, we enter one of Australia’s most recognized national parks. The Freycinet National Park is known to hold Tasmania’s best beaches, hiking trails, rock climbing, boat tours – you name it and it’s likely got it.
But what makes this park exceptionally special? Located in the Freycinet National Park is the white sanded beach and turquoise blue waters of Wine Glass Bay – listed among one of the top beaches in the world. There are several route options that will take you to your desired viewpoint, and if you’re really into hiking there’s even a multi-day overnight loop that takes you around the Freycinet Peninsula.
Park your Launceston rental car at Hazards Beach and follow the Wineglass Bay walking trail signs, surrounded by outcrop pink granite rocks that provide ample viewpoints of Coles Bay, Mount Amous and Mount Mayson – both of which you can hike if the weather is permitting. Half an hour later you will make it to the glorious Wineglass Bay lookout, where you’re presented with a bird’s eye view of the white sandy beach and crystal-clear waters below. If you’re planning on swimming and sunbathing down at the beach itself (and we suggest you do) pack a few snacks to enjoy while you relax on one of Tasmania’s nicest beaches.
Number 5 – Port Arthur
Drive from Wineglass Bay in your Hire Car: 2HR 58Min
As we road trip down south to Hobart, the next stretch of A3 Tasman Highway hugs the eastern Tasmanian coastline as it wraps around Coles Bay continuing south through the small town of Swansea. Located on the Great Eastern Drive, stop in and start your morning with a homemade acai bowl from the local favorite cafe Seed Trading, before continuing your drive south to Port Arthur. The nearly 3 hour drive down the coast to Port Arthur is filled with countless opportunities for #ThereStartsHere photo-ops and pitstops as you journey down the coast passing the Three Arch Bridge and the Rocky Hills overlooking the breathtaking Oyster Bay. As you continue south be sure to follow Highway C337 to maximize your driving time in your rental car, before arriving in Hobart!
Now, the history lesson we’ve been waiting for! Once home to hundreds of Australian and British prisoners, Port Arthur is one of the most historic convict sites in the world – a rather dark history is balanced by the beauty of the surrounding area. The mid 1800’s retrospective brick architecture is surrounded by rolling grassy hills, lush tall forests, gardens, and the calming bay of Port Arthur. The brick prison, church, and housing are among the few buildings that are still standing nearly over 100 years later, and although the history tells stories of hardship and punishment, the evolution of this world class Historic Site serves as an important and informative piece to Australia’s history, adding a new perspective to our modern day lives.
Daily walking tours provide in-depth knowledge of the people and the place, and the opportunity to cruise through Port Arthur itself, which is highly recommended. The combination of history and scenery make spending an afternoon at the historic site rather enjoyable.
This covers just a sliver of the wonders the east coast of Tasmania has to offer! Immerse yourself in its scenic highways, endless photo-ops, world class seafood, indigenous history, national parks and wildlife, hiking trails and breathtaking beaches. Journeying the east coast of Tasmania has never been so easy with East Coast Car Rentals branches located at both Launceston and Hobart, so hire your cheap rental car for a 2-day, 4-day, or 7-day road trip. Tassie is at your wheels, so start exploring!