Coast to Coast Road Trip
Hop off the plane and begin your Coast to Coast experience with a tour at Barilla Bay, only a few minutes from the airport. The tour includes a walk down to the oyster lease as well as six delicious freshly shucked oysters to whet your Tassie appetite. From here, head into the city and get your history on at Australia’s oldest brewery. Of course there’s taste testing to be done at the Cascade Brewery too.
If it’s the weekend, don’t miss the colours and flavours of Saturday’s Salamanca Market, Australia’s largest outdoor market or the Farm Gate Market held each Sunday in Bathurst Street. Alternately, on any given weekday the city is dotted with boutique clothing stores, handmade jewellery and artist galleries to explore.
Check into your Woolmers Apartments Hobart accommodation for the next two nights.
Come afternoon, hit the water on a cruise to Iron Pot with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys and hear about Australia’s oldest lighthouse. The boat leaves at 2pm sharp from the waterfront and runs for 2.5 hours. Circumnavigate Betsey Island, listen to stories of Hobart’s rich maritime heritage and be back on dry land in time for a pre-dinner drink.
Alternatively, you may prefer to be airborne. If this is the case, make your way to Cambridge Airport to take a Par- Avion Wilderness south west half day tour. On this four-hour flight you will enjoy the Huon River, Tasmania’s most southern point, a boat trip into Bathurst Harbour and afternoon tea.
Feel like relaxing now? Sink into a comfy chair at Salamanca’s Nant Distillery or the Lark Distillery on Davey Street to enjoy a heart-warming whisky. Lark is the first licensed distillery in Tasmania since 1839, dedicated to making small batches out of pure Tasmanian ingredients. Just nearby, head across to Frank for a South American-style dining experience. Even if you don’t book, they can usually squeeze you onto a bench looking out across the waterfront happenings.
Hobart and surrounds
Room For a Pony is your North Hobart brekkie stop this morning. This popular corner eatery doesn’t disappoint – stylish décor, beaut seasonal menu and great coffee. Fill your tank, no fuss, and get on your way.
Zip straight out to MONA, Museum of Old and New Art, in your hired wheels or opt for a cruisy mode of transport to David Walsh’s underground playground of antiquities and modern art – aboard the MR-1 Fast Ferry. The Posh Pit on MONA’s ferry is a sure way to get you feeling all VIP-like. Upfront in your private leather lounge, the Moorilla bubbles flow and MOO Brew is a fitting pre-museum craft traveller.
Some say a day isn’t enough at MONA. Others think an underground morning, punctuated by lunch at the Wine Bar and a couple more hours down below is a good dose. Coming up for air and a Winemaker’s Plate with rillettes, pâté and jamón around midday is suitable to many. If there’s a swag of bean bag chatter on the lawns, go and enjoy the sunshine. At MONA, a pink beanbag is just as revered as the Posh Pit lounge, especially when sought after during concerts.
Venture back to Hobart – of course in Posh Pit style – on one of the later ferries. Walk off into the heart of Hobart’s lively waterfront and it’ll be hard to choose a dining venue elsewhere. Pop over to the former sandstone warehouses of Salamanca Place for a pre-dinner drink at Grape or Jack Greene. Then, follow the glow of Brooke Street Pier, wandering out to the end for a culinary experience at The Glass House. Miss Fish Fingers will welcome you – she matches the stylish tones of this dining bar.
Hobart to Port Arthur
There is so much to see on the Tasman Peninsula that it’s hard to pack it into one day. On the way down to Port Arthur, pop into Bangor Wine and Oyster Shed. As the name suggests, they sell oysters, and they are plumply delicious.
Further down the highway, pull over to see nature’s special show including the Tessellated Pavement, Devil’s Kitchen and Tasman’s Arch. You might also spot the Doo-lishus food van in these parts – usually parked at Pirates Bay Blowhole and a great lunch stop; after all, they did win the award for Best Fish and Chips in Tasmania.
Check into your Port Arthur Motor Inn accommodation.
On arrival at Port Arthur, take your time exploring Australia’s most intact and evocative historic site. Cruise out to the eerily named Isle of the Dead, feel the weight of convict shackles and even look for your own ancestors.
When evening casts its shadow across the grounds, join the lantern-lit ghost tour for a whole new chilling experience. You’ll be glad when you’re back in the warm glow of Gabriel’s on the Bay for dinner, at Stewart’s Bay Lodge.
Port Arthur to Coles Bay
Today, travel from Port Arthur to Freycinet Peninsula. The drive itself is an experience; oodles of stories and staggering natural beauty around the bends. You’ll be driving a good part of the Great Eastern Drive – that stretches between Orford and St Helens. Have your camera at the ready.
On your way up the coast, get lunch where the local fishermen grab a bite – at The Fish Van in Triabunna. Try the homemade fish patties or fresh local seafood including mussels, scallops, flat head or whatever the day’s catch might be.
Further up the coast, drop into Swansea for afternoon tea. Kate’s Berry Farm is hard to resist, with its delicious berry crepes and views across Great Oyster Bay. Alternately, head to Cranbrook where Spring Vale Vineyard is highly regarded for their Pinot Noir. After the liquid or dessert refuel, head straight for Freycinet Peninsula. Make a mental note to return for Spring Vale Vineyard’s pop up restaurant at a later date.
Check into your Freycinet Lodge accommodation for two nights.
This evening, dine at The Bay Restaurant within Freycinet Lodge – where perhaps you’ll be tempted by seafood again, or Cape Grim Eye Fillet.
Freycinet and surrounds
Paddle beneath the pink granite of the Hazards mountain range across sapphire-blue waters for three hours this morning, with Freycinet Adventures. Hear stories of French explorers on your stop at a remote beach before paddling back in time for lunch at Freycinet Marine Farm. Create your own seafood banquet – there’s local rock lobster, freshly harvested Tasmanian Blue mussels, Pacific oysters and more.
Let that banquet settle then head for a walk up around Cape Tourville Lighthouse. There’s a one kilometre loop that takes you around the lighthouse, one of Tasmania’s first, and from the boardwalk there are sweeping views down the coast.
Or, head to the Wineglass Bay lookout for the postcard perfect view down across the bay. It’s worth every step of the 45 minute climb. If you’re feeling energetic, head on down to the bay itself. Dip your toe in and you’ll understand why droves of tourists aren’t kicking about in snorkels. The turquoise waters are chilly almost year-round but great for those who enjoy impromptu, exhilarating dips.
Wander down to the end of Wineglass Bay and take a peek at the campsite; it may inspire your next camping venture. A good half-day walk involves heading back along Hazards Beach on a full circuit. This offers views across Great Oyster Bay, or alternately visit nearby wetlands before heading back up the way you came.
For dinner – Tombolo Freycinet awaits with yummy woodfired pizza to enjoy on an orange-lichen topped rock. If you’re feeling up for a drive, take the pizza and head for Devils in the Dark at Bicheno. Simon Plowright has been watching wild devils since the mid-80s and knows a thing or two about their behaviour.
Tonight you’ll get up close with these nocturnal creatures.
Freycinet to Bicheno
Grab a coffee filled with Tasmanian-roasted Villino beans at Tombolo before hopping aboard the Wineglass Bay Cruise at 10am. On this four-hour lunch cruise, venture from Coles Bay along the Freycinet coastline and into Wineglass Bay. Don’t be surprised if dolphins come to play in the bow waves and granite cliffs glow pink in the morning sun. It’s all part of the spectacle! Drop anchor in Wineglass Bay for lunch handcrafted by the head chef at Freycinet Lodge.
With picture perfect Wineglass in your mind, drive on to Bicheno. Spend the late afternoon being a local – watching saltwater fly from the Bicheno blowhole (sometimes 20 metres in the air) and snack on fish and chips at The Gulch.
Check into your Bicheno accommodation.
Later in the day, get your walking legs on and head for Douglas-Apsley National Park. Popular tracks include the Lookout Track Circuit and Apsley Gorge Track. Those who walk to the water hole have trouble leaving. It’s so pretty, and in warm weather it invites you to just dive in. Also nearby is Evercreech Forest Reserve where the world’s tallest white gums tower up to 91 metres into the air.
Be sure you’re back in Bicheno in plenty of daylight. The Bicheno Penguin Tour begins at dusk, and there’s no stopping those 600 or so Little Penguins moving from the seas to their beachside rookeries once the masses get moving. Make sure you wear covered in shoes- they will nip if tempted by toes! Prepare to get nice and close to the penguins, but be aware that they don’t like cameras or flashes, so leave them behind.
Tonight, dine at Pasinis Café – a lively deli and wine bar.
Bicheno to St Helens
Rise early this morning, you’ve got a busy day. You can start your day by taking a dip with the Bicheno Coffee Club – an ocean swimming group of Bicheno locals who meet at dawn at the Bicheno Surf Lifesaving Club for up to a 2km swim (maybe longer on Sunday), splash or a wade. All-comers welcome.
Alternatively, jump in your car and venture straight to ‘The Gardens’ near Binalong Bay. Here you’ll find a beautiful little area known as Cosy Corner. Find yourself a rock and watch the morning sun sprinkle across the waves.
You’re not far from the Bay of Fires beach house that is your home for the day. Roz MacAllan of Kiss a Fish Cookery School runs full-day classes from November to April that typically start with a forage down at the beach for sea asparagus and other tasty morsels. Private classes can, however, be booked by appointment.
The menu is an ever-changing feast depending on what the day’s catch brings. Roz might have oysters from the lease up the road, fresh Stripy Trumpeter or scallops to work with. Learn how to skin, trim, shuck, fillet and scale. Oh and prepare to enjoy more than one course at the shared dining table as the day progresses. The wood fired oven is a hit with most small groups and Roz ensures that everyone walks away with more than one cooking technique – perhaps poaching and wok frying – and always just the right accompaniments to recreate at home.
Check into your St Helens accommodation.
After a day in the kitchen, let Mohr and Smith Café Restaurant and Bar take care of dinner for you back in St Helens. The menu ranges from the likes of crab ravioli and market fresh fish in banana leaves to Pyengana rib fillet for those who have had plenty of fish on their plate during the day. An extensive wine list has a range of cool climate local labels to match.
St Helens to Launceston
Make tracks for White Sands Estate at Ironhouse Point later in the morning. The BrewHaus Café and Bar is your lunch destination where Tasmanian produce mixes well with a choice of four hand-crafted Ironhouse brews. Enjoy a beer tasting and learn about the award-winning brews made using traditional recipes and water from the Estate’s own spring.
Next stop along the way to Launceston is St Mary’s where The Purple Possum is an interesting mix of café, come wholefoods, come mini-gallery, featuring a bric-a-brac shed in the back garden. This combination alone is worth seeing – but if you’re into wholefoods the unusual range is enough to have visitors from afar leaving home addresses for deliveries.
Break at the Devil Bakehouse in Perth on your way through to Launceston. Grab a coffee or be tempted by one of their award-winning pies.
Check into your Commodore Regent Hotel Launceston accommodation for two nights.
Tonight, choose Cataract on Paterson if you’d like your meal delivered on a 400 degree Celsius volcanic stone. The restaurant’s industrial design and emphasis on Tasmanian producers is as pleasing as the way high temperature sears in all a rare fillet’s natural juices.
Launceston and surrounds
Begin your day with a dose of adrenalin at Hollybank Treetops Adventures. Zip through the forest canopy or explore at ground level aboard a 2-hour Segway experience. Hollybank also has an impressive network of mountain biking trails for two-wheeled enthusiasts, so it’s just a matter of picking your outdoor fun.
If wild rides don’t take your fancy, the Josef Chromy winery in Relbia takes life at a more relaxed pace. With the cellar door open daily, this restored 1880s homestead is a relatively new base for Josef Chromy, the long-time Tamar Valley vintner, who’s regarded as a bit of a local hero. Stay for an à la carte lunch overlooking the 60-hectare vineyard.
Alternatively, you may like to go to Lilydale and visit the friendly folk of Lilydale Larder – who will undoubtedly have home-cooked scents wafting through their café. Don’t be surprised if there’s a local enjoying a wine at the bar – residents and visitors consider this their comfy, rustic local. Order from the seasonal menu and stock up on larder treats from the Providore for your afternoon drive.
Drive on through to Barnbougle Dunes, a golfing destination that’s been rated Australia’s number one public course, more than once. Tee off to the sound of crashing waves on a links course where sweeping beaches, farmland and manicured greens mix effortlessly. Challenge yourself to 18 holes, followed by a Tasmanian whisky in the clubhouse.
To keep with the Tamar theme, tonight enjoy dinner beside the Tamar River at Mudbar and Restaurant back in Launceston (a one hour drive).
Launceston to Cradle Mountain
Take the drive from Launceston to Cradle Mountain that weaves through the upper Meander Valley. That way you can stop at Mole Creek Karst National Park for some glowworm action at Marakoopa and King Solomon caves. Stop in at the local Mole Creek Hotel for a hearty lunch.
A sweet stop along the way is Chudleigh Honey Farm, run by a Dutch family who migrated to Australia in the 1980s. The family not only sell honey, but also honey bee products like royal jelly, pollen and cute giftware. Not to mention there’s live ‘exhibition bees’ in a hive and old beekeeping implements to peruse. Continue on to Cradle Mountain to arrive in plenty of daylight.
Check into your Cradle Mountain Hotel accommodation.
After your long drive, perhaps a visit to Waldheim Alpine Spa is on the cards. Slip into a spa looking out across ancient King Billy pines. Don’t be late for dinner – the Tasmanian devils at Devils@Cradle will be ready to dine right at 5.30pm. This rare opportunity to watch locals gather for mealtime can be combined with your own plate. That’s right, book early if you’d like a behind the scenes tour followed up by roasted marshmallows beneath the stars and two courses at the Highland Restaurant.
Cradle Mountain to Strahan
Tasmania’s rugged west coast beckons today. Before heading off, enjoy a hearty breakfast and take a walk around peaceful Dove Lake. Then hit the road for Strahan via mining towns Roseberry and Zeehan. Stop in at Zeehan, once Tasmania’s third largest town. It was also called ‘Silver City’ in the late nineteenth century – and a visit to the West Coast Heritage Centre takes you through this mining history.
Head out to the Spray Tunnel, a 100-metre-long train tunnel once used to transport ore from the Spray Silver Mine. It’s about a ten minute drive from the main street and if you have a torch and are game, walk inside and look for glow worms. Take a look at the grandly restored Gaiety Theatre before leaving town, rumoured to have hosted Dame Nellie Melba, Australia’s first opera star. Lunch is at Mid’L Café.
Check into your Strahan Village accommodation for the next two nights.
Come dinner, enjoy freshly caught mussels or a pub-style steak at Hamers Hotel Bar and Grill along the waterfront.
Strahan and surrounds
Hop aboard a trip down the Gordon River this morning with World Heritage Cruises – on a 35 metre catamaran. You’ll see some of Australia’s oldest convict ruins and venture through Hells Gates. This narrow entrance to Macquarie Harbour was named by convicts on their way to Sarah Island, the most feared penal colony of all.
Cruise past the rugged mountain ranges of South West National Park and spend two hours on the mirror-still Gordon River. Step ashore at Heritage Landing where a Huon pine believed to be 2,000 years old is set amongst rainforest species of sassafras, myrtle and blackwood.
Enjoy a delicious lunch of smoked salmon, salads, fresh fruit, Tasmanian cheeses and local bakery bread. Be back in Strahan with plenty of time to enjoy The Ship That Never Was performance depicting a true story of convicts hijacking a vessel built on Sarah Island. If you’re in the front row, don’t be surprised if you become part of the cast.
Tonight, enjoy á la carte dining by the water’s edge at Risby Cove. Freshly caught seafood is a must!
Strahan to Hobart
On the way back to Hobart, stop in at the old mining town of Queenstown. Have a look at the unusual pink and grey hues on the mountains. Marvel at the heritage listed gravel football field (and imagine the pain of playing on it). Little wonder visiting teams feared playing here over the course of 100 years. Venture up Spion Kop hill for a full view of the town (including the football field) or take an above ground tour of the old Mount Lyell Mine. Grab a coffee at Tracks Café and if you’re in town on a Thursday, listen out for the lone bagpiper on the main street.
Once back in the car, head to Derwent Bridge to visit the Wall in the Wilderness. Local artist Greg Duncan is carving his way through the Central Highland’s history with 100 metres of rare Huon pine as his canvas. And if you have time and am feeling peckish, stop in at the Derwent Bridge Hotel for a quick bite.
Continue along to Redlands Estate later in the morning, Australia’s only paddock-to-bottle distillery. Onsite, Redlands distillers watch over every part of the process from collecting the water through to bottling the golden drop. Enjoy a tasting in the ‘Whisky Stable’ and explore the grounds on a tour. There’s a hop-picker’s village that once serviced some 200 local workers – complete with shop, bakery, butcher and bell tower.
Drop into New Norfolk for lunch at the Cheeky Little Place or Patchwork Café. This town is a haven for antique hunters, so have a poke through stores dotted around town, as well as exploring the former mental asylum of Willow Court.
If you’re passing through Granton before closing time of 4pm, make Stefano Lubiana your final stop for the day. Enjoy a cellar door tasting and perhaps a sneaky afternoon Italian bite – the menu is prepared with seasonal produce from their bio-dynamically run vegetable garden. Oh, and the award-winning NV Brut Reserve sparkling matches the menu beautifully.
Check into your Woolmers Apartments Hobart accommodation.
Head underground to Ash and Bester’s at 100 Elizabeth Street, surfacing for a six course set menu at Ethos Eat Drink just above for your final dinner in Tasmania. Only the finest seasonal, small batch offerings reach your plate, having arrived at Ethos on the same day.
Begin your day wandering the quaint streets of Battery Point on foot. If you like the idea of brekkie with the locals, head for Jam Jar. Other popular breakfast options along Hampden Road include Pollen Tea Room and the institution – Jackman and McRoss.
Spend your final day exploring just outside Hobart. First stop along the way is Shene Estate – rich in convict heritage, the site includes a Georgian farmhouse, 1850s Gothic stables and a 1840s convict built barn. Take a Butler’s Bounty tour taking you behind the scenes (by appointment only) – includes tea, coffee and home baked cakes served in the stables.
Further up the way, take the turn-off at Melton Mowbray and visit one of Australia’s first inland settlements, Bothwell. Just nearby is Ratho Farm, home to the country’s oldest golf course where you can play a round with traditional hickory clubs. Follow this up with late lunch and a dram at Ratho Farm’s neighbour, Nant Distillery.
After your short highland sojourn head back to town and visit Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary on your way. Here you’ll meet orphaned wallabies, rescued quolls, Tasmanian devils and staff so endearing you’d wonder if they were talking about their first-born.
Leave plenty of time to get back to Hobart Airport and bid farewell to 14 wonderful Tasmanian days.
Availability of experiences in this itinerary may be subject to opening times, seasonal operation or booking requirements, please call ahead to plan each day.
Photo Credit: Tourism Tasmania. All rights reserved @Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett, Michael Walters, Gabi Mocatta, Phillip Barratt, Simon Birch, George Apostolidis, John de la Roche, Samuel Shelley, Scott Sporleder, Sarah Williams Photography, Adrian Cook, Peter Aitchison, Alastair Betts, Paul Fleming, Graham Freeman, Kathryn Leahy, Ellenor Argyropoulos, Chris Crerar, Alice Bennett, Andrew Wilson, Phil Kitt, Jason Charles Hill, Alex Beem, Peter Topliss, RACT Destinations.