Tasmania’s east coast is tied together with a string of fishing ports, favoured with sheltered harbours, a mild climate and soporific water views.
Bicheno stands out as a successful holiday resort and convenient hub for the nearby Freycinet and Douglas Apsley National Parks.
The local fishing fleet shelters in a tiny harbour called ‘The Gulch.’ The pleasant Foreshore Footway runs 3.5km past an impressive blowhole and offers great views of Governor Island Nature Reserve. This reserve has large sea caves, vertical rock faces and fascinating drop-offs for adventurous scuba divers.
Nearby Waubs Beach is safe for swimming and a popular surf hangout. The area began as a sealer’s haven called Waubs Bay after an Aborigine woman of that name, famously rescued two sealers from a shipwreck. Later the port was named Bicheno after the colonial secretary in the 1840’s, when Tasmania was a notorious penal colony, called Van Diemen’s Land.
Bicheno has some interesting local tours and excursions. You can take a ferry to Maria Island to experience its rich heritage from the convict days. Call in at Swansea, as you drive south, to visit the Bark Mill and Kate’s Berry Farm. The highlight is a visit to Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park, where you can walk across The Hazards, for a breathtaking view of Wineglass Bay, one of Tassie’s scenic icons. Another ‘must see’ attraction is the Fairy penguin rookery at Redhill Beach, where a one hour tour sets off every night at dusk. There are two local aquariums and a free-roaming nature park with friendly critters like the Tassie devils, wombats, wallabies, roos and tiger snakes.
There’s no end to the east coast outdoor action; swimming, surfing, diving, boating, fishing, kayaking and coastal walking are all easily accessible.
Accommodation covers the normal range with hostels, holiday parks, cabins, B&B’s, guesthouses, motels, cottages and apartments.
Cafes specialise in glorious fresh fish, oysters, abalone and lobster in season. Ask for the delicious seafood chowder. Natureworld Animal Park has a ‘bush tucker’ banquet along with its eco-tour experience. Don’t forget to sample the east coast pinot and riesling at local vineyards.