Oh Tassie! Our neighbour across the sea, the land of hidden wonders that more Victorians should really spend the time to visit. Tasmania has always been on my list but its close proximity often made it one of those ‘I’ll always have time to visit later’ kind of destinations until recently when I thought it’s about time it happened. Itinerary planning always takes up a large chunk of time prior to travel but eventually we managed to finalise a relaxing but eventful schedule with lots of driving breaks in between, focusing on the East Coast so that we see it well and come back next time to do everything else.
We spent about 10 days on the road, adventuring through the East Coast of Tasmania starting at Devonport, making our way down all the way to Hobart and back to Devonport again to catch the Spirit of Tasmania back. For people like us who live in Melbourne, we are lucky that we can have the option to take our own car and catch Spirit of Tas down in addition to flying down and hiring a car. We chose to catch the boat as being under 25, it cost extra to hire vehicles and I didn’t want any troubles with insurance if anything happened. There are pros and cons for choosing to travel by the sea or sky and in the end we were reading way too many articles so we just went with one. After experiencing Spirit of Tas, I think I would say that if you are thinking of going camping, bringing your bikes, caravan, boats, moving house across the Strait (lol) or any other bulky stuff then Spirit is definitely the only way to go. But if you are just bringing a car like us, you might want to consider hiring as the journey from check in to check out is quite long and can be up to 12 hours. Reception can be non-existent towards the middle of Bass Strait so you’ll also be quite bored as the paid internet offered on board does not allow for YouTube or downloading. It is not cheap either compared to flight prices these days!
THE RECTORY CAFE, DEVONPORT
As we went via sea, our itinerary started and ended at Devonport so my first recommendation is a side-stop (and doesn’t count in the Top 6 / I just can’t count very well!). If you do happen to start your journey in Devonport, I recommend visiting The Rectory Cafe which is right around the corner from where the boat docks. It’s an easy way to start your journey if you have just been on a ship for 12 hours and just want to eat something yummy, right now. Anyway, the cafe here is really, really quirky! It used to be a church that’s now repurposed into a cafe so there are heaps of little rooms inside as well as a really big courtyard outside filled with tables, towards the side of the building there are gorgeous granite ones too. The garden outside is also lovely so if it’s a sunny day, I totally recommend spending it outside. Food here is very Melbourne and the staff here so lovely. We ordered the fritters and eggs benedict.
Address: 71 Wright St, East Devonport TAS 7310
BRIDESTOWE ESTATE LAVENDER FARM
One of the reasons I always wanted to visit Tasmania was for the lavender farms. I’ve always known about them and always wanted to go. My sister was completely blown away when she heard and saw images of Bridestowe I was showing her before the trip. She had no idea and it seems neither did a lot of others who hadn’t visited the area. The funny thing was, there were heaps of overseas visitors from Asia when we were there, so it seems like word has somehow bypassed the locals but has instead gotten around to other countries!
If you visit Tasmania and you’re there during the lavender season, you MUST visit Bridestowe Estate’s postcard pretty, Provence-worthy lavender farm. The place is completely ridiculously beautiful and is only about a 45 min drive from Launceston. The road there is really quite simple, it’s a one lane road on both sides and like most Tassie roads we drove on, well paved and empty. Obviously, the main thing to do at the farm is walking amongst the lavender but there’s also a heap of other things to check out like the free tours they run, the cafe, the ice-cream truck where you totally have to get the lavender flavoured ice-cream as well as a gift shop which is great for souvenirs. Allocate about 2-3 hours for a thorough visit including food.
I have to say it one more time – the place is out of the world stunning so do bring your camera!
Two tips for visiting Bridestowe Estate:
- If you join their online newsletter, you can get free entry into the lavender farm. Otherwise, it’s $10 per person.
- Doubly make sure that the lavender is blooming before you go. We recommend checking their social media accounts to keep up to date as the lavender is harvested at slightly different times each year. When we were visiting (mid Jan), they had only just started harvesting so there was only a small patch of green amongst the purple but a few weeks after our visit, almost the entire farm was harvested.
BAY OF FIRES
Wearing: Steele the Label dress
After our stopover at Launceston, we headed east towards the famous Bay of Fires, a coastal area characterised by the fiery orange lichen-covered granite rocks that are scattered along the beach. The Bay of Fires stretches for more than 50kms from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point so you can stay at any of the towns here such as Binalong Bay or where we stayed, St Helens. If you are in the mood for camping, there are also heaps of campsites right next to the beach which looked like heaven. I would consider the time that we visited, January, peak season with school holidays and all but even then, the coast was not all that busy. It was really quite tranquil which is one of the things I love about Tasmania. We spent an afternoon and morning driving up and down the coast here, checking out the numerous beaches. I think a day should be enough to see the area.
Wearing: Everlane cotton striped tee dress
One of my favourite stops along the Bay of Fires coast was definitely Binalong Bay. The above two images are from Binalong Bay, just check out the expanse of bright orange rocks over here and look at how clear that water is! We spent a morning exploring, climbing the boulders and just relaxing with barely another soul in sight.
St Helens food recommendations:
If you are in St Helens, do stop over at the above Fish and Chips shop. On Google Maps it is called ‘Skippers’ and it is the blue boat shop above, but I think it’s gone through a name change or something as I’m pretty sure it’s now ‘Paddle Wheeler’. Anyway, it’s the most amazing place for fresh fish which they catch from their (other) boat every day. Take note of their opening hours though, as the first time we visited they were closed (I think it was Sunday that they only open for lunch). Also, if you are staying in St Helens, there is a bakery that sells really nice scallop pies. I can’t remember the name (edit: It’s called St Helens Bakery!) but it is opposite St Helens IGA and next to the BP petrol station. Definitely try them out if you’re a fan of scallops, you won’t believe how many scallops they can pack into one pie.
Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!
Photography: Rowena Cao & Connie Cao