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DESTINATION: Tasmania

By JOHN ROZENTALS

TRAVEL: 24 JANUARY 2017

JOHN ROZENTALS takes a stunning drive along Tasmania's beautiful East Coast.

I wrote recently about the charm and thrills of driving Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.

Probably not quite as well known, but also a great adventure and filled with spectacular scenery is the drive along Tasmania’s East Coast, from Orford up to St Helens.

The real highlights start just south of Swansea, when Freycinet Peninsula and Schouten Island come into view, but don’t be so distracted by the views as to miss the short deviation off the highway to have a look at the convict-built Spiky Bridge and wonder just what inspired the felons to create such bizarre decorations along its walls.

Do take an extra couple hours for the drive along Coles Bay Rd through the village of Coles Bay and on to the Hazards and Freycinet National Park, with the optional excursion (and exertion) of a hike to Wineglass Bay.

Bicheno is a charming fishing town so make sure to stop and have a look — and perhaps dine on some fish and chips at The Gulch, where the fleet takes shelter in stormy weather.

A bit further north, there’s a choice of following the coast past Chain of Lagoons and heading into mountainous rainforest country via St Marys. Both routes have their attractions.

St Helens is a wonderfully pleasant tourist spot that has facilities to cater for just about everyone’s needs, including a range of accommodation from caravan parks to very upmarket lodgings such as the Art House, a bit further north at the Bay of Fires.

IF YOU GO

Discover Tasmania (http://www.discovertasmania.com.au)

East Coast Tasmania (http://eastcoasttasmania.com)

The Art House (https://www.arthousebayoffires.com.au)

Above: Freycinet National Park.

The old convict-built Spiky Bridge, just south of Swansea.

The Art House … classy accommodation at the Bay of Fires.

The beach outside the Art House at Bay of Fires … a classic Tasmanian East Coast combination of pristine sand and red-coloured boulders.

The Binalong Bay Café … great views, good food.

The Friendly Beaches.

The Gulch, Bicheno … a great spot for fish and chips.

The Hazards, Coles Bay.

The Art House … classy accommodation at the Bay of Fires.