A few years ago, I went on a discovery road trip around Tasmania, starting from Hobart. I hadn’t been back to Tassie since my backpacking trip in 2008, so I was very excited to go on a solo road trip adventure. I hired a car in Hobart and went on a round trip first to Bicheno, then to Launceston along the beautiful east coast of Tasmania. Here is what I did on my 7-day Tasmania east coast road trip.
How to prepare for your Tasmania East Coast Road Trip
With 14 road trips in Australia under my belt, of which 12 solos, I was keen to tick this road trip off my bucket list. While the population of Tasmania is only 700 thousand, driving around the island is a relaxing activity. Nonetheless, the island is big, and with many things to see and do, you need at least 7-10 days to make the most of your time.
From Hobart to Bicheno, it takes a couple of hours to drive. With such a pristine environment, Tasmania boasts 18 national parks, 2000km of walking tracks and 1.38 million hectares of wilderness world heritage area, so you can get an idea of how long it takes to drive around Tasmania. Having travelled alone in Australia for the past 16 years, I have enjoyed driving alone in Australia. Nothing beats the freedom of a road trip and being over 50, solo driving makes it even more special.
How to get good car rental deals for Tasmania
I started researching months ahead and was lucky to find a good deal from my trusted car rental comparison site. For 150 dollars, I could book a good car for five days. I paid 10 dollars deposit for making the reservation online. However, if you want to cancel a booking, the deposit will be refunded, and you can make a new one with no extra expenses.
Where to stay as a solo traveller on the East Coast of Tasmania
For the solo traveller, there isn’t much on offer. I chose to stay with an Airbnb host and was lucky to come across a beautiful place on the Esplanade of Bicheno.
This place wasn’t cheap for a solo traveller, but look at these photos, which speak for themselves. The location and the house are fabulous, with a superb view. Little penguins come into the driveway at night and are only a few steps around the house.
Things to See on The Tasmania Road Trip
I had booked a week-long flight from Perth to Hobart in Tasmania. I booked a hostel in Hobart for the first three days and took a day trip to Bruny Island. It was a good idea to start slowly before road-tripping the east coast of Tasmania. Moreover, this also helped me adjust to the weather conditions, rain and cold temps, and enjoy more of the Hobart surroundings. M east coast road trip in Tasmania started with the short drive from Hobart to Bicheno. I spent two nights there and then drove along the east coast further north to Launceston.
Hobart and Mount Wellington Walks
Hobart’s surrounding area offers fantastic outdoor experiences. From Hobart, just a 20-minute drive, you can get to Fern Tree on walking trails up to the Springs and the Mount Wellington Summit.
I couldn’t walk to the summit that day due to cloudy weather conditions, so I hiked up to the Springs through the Fern Glade Track and returned via the Silver Falls Track—a 2-hour-return walk across beautiful fern trees and blue gums forests. You can use the public buses from Hobart to get there if you don’t drive.
On a bright day, the Mount Wellington hike to the Summit is a must. It’s a 3-hour return walk from the Springs, but if you don’t fancy the long trek, you can drive by car directly to the Mount Wellington Lookout.
A day trip from Hobart to Bruny Island
Bruny Island is the ideal backpacking destination and the ideal place for a day trip from Hobart. It’s a 45 minutes drive to Kettering; from there, the ferry takes 15 minutes to cross over to Bruny Island. The island is a long stretch of 2 parts, offering ten beautiful walking trails, a few campsites and the Cape Bruny Lighthouse with a fabulous 360° view of the cape. Moreover, the island is a paradise for local produce like cheese, honey, olives, and shucked oysters if you love food. On tour, we went on the Fluted Cape 2.5 km return walk from Grass Point. The trail takes you up to the summit of the Fluted Cape, passing very high sea cliffs—the right spot for seeing whales and dolphins and taking ocean photos.
Tip: on Bruny Island, there are no shops, restaurants, or petrol stations. So pack your food as the only food store at Adventure Bay has a limited offer that lets much desire! Make sure you have a full tank before taking the ferry too.
Top Attractions on the Tasmania East Coast
The first stop of my road trip in Tasmania started from Hobart to Bicheno, a lovely coastal village 34 km northeast of Coles Bay and the Freycinet National Park. I planned to find accommodation in Coles Bay, but it’s hard to get a suitable place to stay in the area as most lodges and cabins are booked a long time ahead. There are four campsites for camping lovers, but again, booking in advance is essential in this area!
Freycinet National Park and the Wineglass Bay Walk
The Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay are two top attractions to add to your itinerary. It’s a place I could go back to repeatedly without getting tired of it. The entire East Coast of Tasmania is a fantastic journey of its own. The landscape changes from shrubland to blue gums to sweeping valleys dotted with vineyards and a wealth of wildlife—an authentic slice of paradise.
I could do more long walks as the weather improved over the days. Besides the famous Wineglass Bay walk and Wineglass Bay Lookout walk, roughly a 1-hour walk from the car park, I decided to do the long circuit walk that takes you from Wineglass Bay to Hazards Beach and along the coastline back to the Frecynet Carpark.
Tip: Plan the Wineglass Lookout Walk and the long Hazards Beach Track early in the morning because it’s a long up-and-downhill walk that will tire you (about 5-6 hours). There are many places to stop taking photos or relaxing, but 90% of the track is open and exposed with no shelter from the sun.
The scenic drive from Bicheno to Launceston
The last stop of my 7-day road trip itinerary was Launceston. I hadn’t figured out how to get from Bicheno to Launceston. The faster way is to drive through Campbell Town; the route is quick, with nothing to see along the way.
While talking to my Airbnb Host, I got a tip on the scenic route that skirts the northern part of the east coast and goes through the inland forests and mountains down to Launceston. It’s a much longer trip itinerary, about 245 km from Bicheno, but worth it. I was so glad I picked this option cause I got to see the most beautiful part of North East Tasmania.
St. Helens and Derby
From Bicheno to St. Helens, it’s an hour’s drive through a rugged coastline, hidden bays and beaches, and a pristine landscape. St. Helens is a picturesque fishing port with an excellent visitor centre packed with iconic relics from fishing to the timber and mining region. You can detour the Bay of Fires from St. Helens to see the most photogenic beach in Tasmania. I didn’t go to the Bay of Fires, ha. I had seen it years ago, so I preferred to continue my road trip through the hills to reach my next destination: Derby.
The surprise about the little village, Derby, is that it’s a hotspot for mountain bikers in Tasmania. With several professional trails, Derby attracts mountain bikers from all over Australia for a fabulous MTB experience. It’s a tiny village with quirky fun places like this cafe.
This driving itinerary through the forest isn’t tricky, but some stretches have gently uphill twists and curves, so you must feel comfortable with this.
Scottsdale is the following stop, a township in the northeast region and the largest town between Launceston of Tasmania’s east coast. I loved the Scottsdale Visitor Centre, located in a heritage building with lovely decorations from the past. Grab all the free maps about the region here.
The Bridstowe Lavender Farm
I was unaware that the Bridstowe Lavender Farm was just a short detour from the highway, so it was the right time to get there just before the last lavender farm tour started. There is a shop with many fabulous lavender products and gifts, but the best part of the trip is walking through the lavender fields and taking photos. A truly sensory experience, really worth it, and I can recommend it.
Launceston – The Cataract Gorge Walk
Launceston is the second biggest town in Tasmania and a lovely village with many cafes, parks, hills, and a beautiful gorge that highlights people visiting Launceston. The Cataract Gorge offers various trails with different levels of difficulty. I walked up the Sentinel Trail and the Duck Reach to the second suspension bridge. It is the second part of the track and the most scenic one. A 1.5-hour return walk is worth it and is one of the best walks in Tasmania.
Tips For Tasmania Eastcoast Drive
This road trip to the East Coast of Tasmania has been incredible. It exceeded my expectations and was one of the most scenic drives I have ever had in solo travel adventures in Australia. It boasts beautiful, varied landscapes and exciting surprises. I recommend this Tasmania East Cost Road Trip to anyone visiting Solo Tasmania.
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First published in 2017, last updated in June 2023
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