Cycling Tour: East-Coast Cruiser
- Start Orford
- End Bicheno
- Length 140km; one week
Tasmania’s east coast is the sunniest, driest part of the state, and the terrain along the main coast road is largely easygoing (with a few steady climbs). There are also plenty of towns en route in which to stop, eat, drink and sleep – perfect road-cycling country!
The east coast proper kicks off at Orford, a soporific holiday hub 79km northeast of Hobart, where the glassy Prosser River meets the sea. Fuel up on baked treats (head for the Gateway Cafe) or cool off with a swim at nearby Spring Beach. Darlington Vineyard is here, too, if you have room for a bottle or two in your panniers.
From Orford it’s just a 7km pedal to little Triabunna, a raffish port town with a fishing fleet, an old pub and a former wood-chipping mill in the throes of (rather controversial) redevelopment. The ferry to Maria Island National Park leaves from the waterfront: if you have a few days up your sleeve, take your bike over, camp and pedal around some brilliant island trails (native animals ahoy!). Otherwise, stay the night in Triabunna (the town caravan park is very decent) and don’t miss some fresh fish and chips from the Fish Van on the harbour.
From Triabunna it’s a 50km run north to Swansea, the next big town. If that seems too far, shoot for Little Swanport, 22km away, where there’s a lovely (and free) campsite just north of the river. There’s another free campsite at beautiful Mayfield Bay, about 15km south of Swansea. Note that just beyond Mayfield Bay the road takes a steep climb – you’ll need to put some power into your pedals! Don’t miss Spiky Bridge, 7km south of Swansea, a convict-built marvel just off the main road. The golden-sand beaches near here – Kelvedon, Spiky and Cressy – are divine for a dip.
Swansea itself is a busy tourist hub, with lots of cafes, a buzzing tavern and plenty of places to stay for all budgets. Check out the little East Coast Heritage Museum for an overview of local history. Next to the town backpackers, the Bark Mill Tavern & Bakery is the pick of places to eat at any tick of the clock (doors open at 6am). Load up on goodies, then take a local cycling tour with Swansea Cycle Tours along some gorgeous privately owned coastline (…these guys are also handy to know if you’re having any mechanical issues).
North of Swansea there’s a string of brilliant wineries in which to sip and swill (just one or two, of course…). Gala Estate Vineyard is right on the roadside in Cranbrook and makes a handy stop. The architecturally devilish Devil’s Corner is brilliant, too, with a crop of eating options on site and killer views across the coast. But don’t linger too long – it’s a lengthy 52km haul from Swansea to Coles Bay, your next stop.
Turn off the main road 34km north of Swansea and head 18km south towards Coles Bay, an endearing holiday hamlet on the doorstep of the famous Freycinet National Park. Coles Bay, too, has plenty of places to rest your bones, from campsites to plush villas. There are some great foodie haunts around here, too: don’t bypass the oysters at Freycinet Marine Farm on the way into Coles Bay, nor Tombolo Freycinet for a pizza in the township itself. But what most folks are here for is a look at Wineglass Bay, the amazing beach beyond the craggy Hazards granite peaks that form the backdrop to Coles Bay. You can take a ritzy boat cruise to Wineglass Bay from Coles Bay, or cycle into the national park and then hike up over ‘The Saddle’ to get there; your efforts will be rewarded with a cooling dunk in the impossibly clear ocean.
Backtrack to the highway and continue north to Bicheno, 35km from Coles Bay and an unpretentious town in which to end your east-coast tour. Native-wildlife experiences are the name of the game here: check out some Tasmanian devils and snakes at Natureworld, some penguins with Bicheno Penguin Tours, or the undersea realm with Bicheno’s Glass Bottom Boat. The Bicheno Motorcycle Museum is an amazing place to visit, too, with more than 60 shiny chrome machines (perhaps next time you tackle this trip your two wheels might be accompanied by an engine?). Celebrate your adventures with dinner and a few more east-coast wines at Pasinis, a local Italian restaurant that leaves the competition floundering in its wake.