Orford-Freycinet (Great Drives)

The east coast of Tasmania boasts some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the world … and the drive from the holiday village of Orford to the stunning Freycinet Pensinsula showcases the best of the best.

After leaving the fishing friendly-town of Orford and skirting Prosser Bay, the Tasman Highway brings travellers to Triabunna, the main departure point for the Maria Island Ferry. If your Big Lap is about unwinding and de-stressing, then Maria Island is the spot for you. There are no cars here and so hiking and/or mountain biking are the go. The island is a bird watchers’ paradise and there are also towering cliffs, scenic bays and old ruins to view and explore. If historic buildings are your thing, you can even stay a night at the old penitentiary if you choose. Most visitors prefer to camp in a tent.


After returning to Tasmania proper on the ferry, northward bound travellers will enjoy some truly spectacular views over Oyster Bay as they wend their way towards Swansea. Just before arriving at this pleasant town though is Spiky Bridge, which is famed for its unusual ‘spike’ feature and which was built by convicts in 1841. Indeed, former convicts built much of the Tasman Highway. History is everywhere in the island state.


Freycinet National Park’s Wineglass Bay from Wineglass Bay Walking Track. PIC: Tourism Australia / Graham Freeman

The Swansea area is surrounded by vineyards and for that reason, amongst many others, is extremely popular with happy hour-loving grey nomads.

About 10kms or so before Bicheno is the turnoff to the pleasant township of Coles Bay, the gateway to Freycinet. Founded in 1916, this is Tasmania’s oldest national park and its rugged scenery is world renowned. Here you will find the famously secluded Wineglass Bay, which was voted by several travel authorities as one of the world’s top 10 beaches. It is truly gorgeous.

As you might expect, there are no shortage of awesome walks in the park. The adventurous and energetic might want to take a 2.5 hour return climb over the line of jagged peaks called ‘The Hazards’ to Hazards Beach itself.

For those who prefer their trips less physically demanding, recommended drives include those to Sleepy Bay, Cape Tourville Lighthouse and the encouragingly named Friendly Beaches.

Wow! Just how much natural magnificence can the human brain appreciate in just a few short days of driving? Well, this is as good a place as any to find the answer.


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