Launceston to Binalong Bay
The Pyengana Dairy Company is something else. It’s all about happy cows. Here, they pretty much milk themselves before lining up for a back scratch. These relaxed cows turn out some fantastic milk and cheese. All good things take time. They’ve been making hard cheese here for more than a century.
On the way to Binalong Bay, take a detour and stop by St Columba Falls. It’s one of the island’s highest multi-tiered waterfalls. Arriving at sleepy Binalong Bay, there’s not much to do but let the view work its magic. Drive along the main strip where the beaches and coastline shine. Rug up and go for a brisk walk along the beach, take some deep breaths and inhale the salty air. Then head for Bay of Fires Bush Retreat.
Once there, you’ll be led to your own little bell tent. This isn’t normal camping. There’s a generous queen-sized bed, complete with a jar of marshmallows to roast on the fire and a heater just in case the evening turns chilly. Head up to the dining area and Tom (a well-accomplished chef from Angasi and Drift Café in Devonport) will serve up a warming feast. Come nightfall, it’s all about gathering round the fire pit and making new friends.
Binalong Bay to Bicheno
Early risers get to cruise those azure waters on-board the Bay of Fires Eco Tours. Most likely your guide’s father built the boat. He’s worked hard to make this dream happen and the family business is thriving. They’ll take you right down to Eddystone Lighthouse and back. On the way keep a look out for dolphins, whales, and hardy surfers.
Come nightfall in Bicheno there’s some mates to meet. Hop on the Bicheno Penguin Tour website for the arrival time of your welcome party, then join the tour to learn all about them. Wear closed toe shoes because these friendly little ones like to nip – that’s how close you’ll get.
Plenty of places to stay tonight including Cod Rock Point (penguins in your front garden) and Bicheno Hideaway Chalets, hugged by bush on the Maclean Bay waterfront. This comes with its own boathouse and toasty warm wood-fired heaters.
Bicheno to Coles Bay
Pull yourself away from the warmth – Wineglass Bay calls. Allow about 30 minutes to get there. Sunrise from Wineglass Bay lookout is glorious. Spend the day exploring outdoors. Winter, especially on the east coast, has the most crisp, blue-sky days. Once down from the lookout, turn right for Cape Tourville Lighthouse (this is also gorgeous at sunrise). Views down the Freycinet Peninsula are yours, with the glowing pink granite and rolling winter seas spread before you.
Few know about Sleepy Bay. Head down the steps for quaint, egg-like granite boulders that invite one to climb inside. Escape the winter chill in these nature-made havens.
Back at Freycinet Lodge, opt in for the Tasmanian Food and Wine Experience. Feel like spoiling yourself? The Coastal Pavilions offer the ultimate in east coast luxury with stunning views from every room over the water and surrounding bush. Another favourite is Saffire-Freycinet, offering an indulgent winter experience including a state-of-the-art spa that you can lose yourself in for days.
Take a winter ‘cruisy’ day today. In the morning slip on a skirt – a kayak skirt. A Freycinet Adventures kayak lets you experience the peninsula just centimetres from the water. Dip a paddle in and listen to stories about French explorers.
Come afternoon, take off for Friendly Beaches. You’re on your own here – a car park, a beach that stretches for kilometres and probably a wallaby or two. Let that sea breeze cast its spell.
Come back to the main road for some amazing seafood at the Freycinet Marine Farm. Oysters fresh from the farm and the recent catch from fishermen – abalone, scallops, lobster – all the good stuff.
Coles Bay to Swansea
Continue to enjoy the bounty of Tasmania’s east coast on the way back to Swansea. At Devil’s Corner climb up the look out and take a peek at where you came from. Back downstairs there’s some wonderful wines to enjoy.
Tonight, it’s Piermont. There’s the Seascape Walk which is perfect in late winter light, followed by onsite dining and a log fire.
Tuck into fresh crayfish, scallops, oysters and local catch at The Fish Van in Triabunna while waiting for the ferry to Maria Island. You might even meet some locals.
Catch the ferry over and enjoy a coffee on the way – you won’t find a latte once you’re there. Explore the Old Penitentiary and spend a few hours walking out to Painted Cliffs. Don’t trip on a wombat. There are plenty and they don’t move in a hurry. You may prefer to hire a bike. It’s a great way to explore the island, especially as there are no cars to contend with. You can spend the night at the Old Penitentiary or pitch a tent at the camp ground.
From Maria Island, make your way back to Hobart Airport. You won’t want to rush after such a relaxing break. Stop at Barilla Bay and have your last taste of Tassie oysters before heading home. You might fit in a glass of bubbles, too.