7 reasons to love the Great Eastern Drive
Plot a wild and wonderful road trip teaming with coastal beauty, diverse activities, stellar seafood and laidback locals.
1. Indulge in great seafood
The seafood source is never closer than along the Great Eastern Drive. Find oysters and mussels plucked straight from the leases at Freycinet Marine Farm or Melshell Oysters while the Lobster Shack and its waterfront dining deck are just steps from the fishing fleet in Bicheno. Oyster Bay Tours offers a detailed look at the marine farm's briny life, with tastings and instruction in the art of oyster-shucking.
2. Discover unique cellars doors
The vineyards hugging the East Coast Wine Trail are blessed with ideal growing conditions. The main cluster of vines and cellar doors is around the town of Cranbrook, featuring Spring Vale Vineyard and its cellar door in a stable built by convicts in 1842. Rustic Gala Estate has been owned by the same family since 1821 and is recognised as the state's second-oldest family business, while Freycinet Vineyard is one of the coast's pioneering wineries, having first planted in 1979.
3. Be amazed by wildlife
You won't have stepped ashore long on Maria Island before you spy its resident wombats, wallabies, Cape Barren geese and even Tasmanian devils wandering casually around the Darlington lawns. Join Bicheno Penguin Tours to watch little penguins shuffle ashore and into Bicheno, while East Coast Natureworld, on Bicheno's outskirts, introduces some of the state's cutest fur babies, rescued as orphans from the road.
4. Wander pristine beaches
The flawless arc of Wineglass Bay steals hearts, but the Great Eastern Drive is fringed by stunning beaches you might well have to yourself. Wander the wide expanse of Spring Beach in the south, or pick a perfect colour from among the white sand, orange boulders and blue seas lining larapuna/Bay of Fires in the north. Nearby Beerbarrel Beach is as colourful as its name.
5. Explore national parks with a difference
The Great Eastern Drive passes four of the state's 19 national parks. Freycinet is the state's oldest national park, with postcard beaches draped across the toes of bare granite peaks. Douglas-Apsley National Park flies under the radar, but its dry hills are creased and folded into spectacular gorges ideal for hiking and swimming. In Mount William National Park, wander empty white beaches by day and observe crowds of wildlife after dark. On Maria Island, find a window into the past at World Heritage-listed Darlington Probation Station and wander convict-era ruins.
6. Find family-friendly fun
Kids love the Great Eastern Drive for its beaches, wildlife and family-friendly activities. Get them spinning on St Helens Mountain Bike Trails, which offer everything from easy loops to barrelling descents. Cruise Freycinet tracks on All4Adventure's quad bikes. Or find a protected beach to while away the hours combing for treasures and building elaborate sand castles.
7. Float on a world of water
Water is life along the Great Eastern Drive. Take to the waterways in a kayak with Secret River Tours, paddling the likes of Georges Bay, Scamander River and, yes, shhh, a secret river. St Helens is famed for its game fishing, and Keen Angler Charters chases the big stuff. Prefer a more leisurely pace? Wineglass Bay Cruises delivers the rarest of views - from the water - of the island's most photogenic beach.
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