Photographs from Tasmania Part IV: The Great Eastern Drive

Part four of the series featuring photographs from a journey across the island of Tasmania.

The beauty of Tasmania is best discovered and experienced by car. The probably most spectacular and photogenic journey across the island is the Great Eastern Drive. Roughly 200 kilometres along Tasmania’s east coast, it features stunning landscapes, gem-like beaches, and some of the islands most beautiful National Parks.
The Great Eastern Drive officially starts from Triabunna, which also forms the gateway to Maria Island, reachable by a half hour ferry boat ride from the Triabunna docks. Strong currents make for a bumpy ride, but the suspense of setting foot on such a magical place on earth makes the ride go by in a flash.

Triabunna - Ferry boat

Triabunna - ropes

Maria Island

Originally, the island served as another penal colony, the settlement of Darlington forming the main hub. Soon after the abolishment of such colonies, the island gained a new role: it was turned into a National Park. Devils, Wombats, and other animals from all over Tasmania were introduced, and the suitable conditions made their numbers grow steep. Today, Maria Island is seen as a wildlife haven, and encounters are guaranteed.
Geologically, the island is of high interest. Some of its cliffs form beautiful layered patterns of Triassic sandstone, hence named the Painted Cliffs. While Maria Island appears small compared to mainland Tasmania, it offers a lot to see, and several days of camping would be required to truly experience all it has to offer.

Maria Island - Darlington

Maria Island - Painted Cliffs

Mari Island - Painted Cliffs 2

Maria Island - Solitary house

Maria Island - Wombat

As you head north from Triabunna, the curvy road heads through beautiful hillsides, past lush beaches and gorgeous treelines. Eventually, a mountainous, green landscape starts appearing on the Eastern horizon: The icicle-shaped Freycinet peninsula, formed by the mountain range called the Hazards.

Freycinet National Park
Three large parking lots full of rental cars, camper vans, and buses make a bizarre introduction to this gorgeous peninsula. Compared to Maria Island’s reclusiveness, which is only reachable by boat, the Freycinet Naitonal Park is a busy tourist hub. American, Chinese, and mainland Australian groups all pilgrim to the one lookout which offers the view of Tasmania’s most picturesque landmark: Wineglass Bay.
Several theories revolve around the origin of the bay’s name – some say from whale hunting, the sea would go wine red, others tell you it’s because of the glass clear waters, or the shape that resembles a wine glass. Whichever it may be, Wineglass Bay is magnificent. After a steep walk up to the lookout and the descent between Mounts Mayson and Amos, this unspoilt beach is another one of ‘those magical’, unspoilt moments that make Tasmania so unique.

Freycinet - Wineglass Bay

Freycinet - Wineglass Beach

Freycinet - Sapphire

Freycinet - Coles Bay beach

Freycinet - Coles Bay

Continuing northwards from Freycinet, Cape Tourville offers breathtaking vistas of the Freycinet Peninsula and the Southern Sea. Further up, you pass the endless Friendly Beaches, a flat sandy coast that runs uninterrupted for miles, before reaching the surfy town of Bicheno. A small town of under 1000 permanent residents, it is famous for fairy penguins, as well as fantastic seafood (The Gulch!) and California-style surf shops.

Cape Tourville view

Friendly beaches

Bicheno - The Gulch

Bicheno - By the Gulch

Bicheno - Beach

The Great Eastern Drive eventually leads to the towns of St. Helens, and Binalong Bay, at the bottom of sensational Bay of Fires.

The Bay of Fires
Named by discoverer Furneaux in 1773 after seeing fires that were set by the Aboriginals, the name could not fit better still today. Large granite rocks several meters in size glow in gorgeous orange, from the lichen Xanthoria parietina. It is a jaw-dropping sight which extends for miles. Barefoot rock climbing to reach well-deserved perfect lookout spots is an exciting task here, which will make for unforgettable memories.
It is here where the Great Eastern Drive ends, at the Gardens section of the Bay of Fires. A solitary farmhouse stands here in an endless meadow of green, surrounded by some of the worlds most beautiful beaches.

Bay of Fires - Beach panorama

Bay of Fires - Beach view

Bay of Fires - Between the rocks

Bay of Fires - Lichen closeup

Bay of Fires - Rocks 1

Bay of Fires - Rocks

Bay of Fires - The Gardens

The Tasmanian east coast is as enthralling as beaches and coasts get. Colourful, pristine, and truly beautiful, a perfect road trip.

Bay of Fires-1

Photos taken in Tasmania in January 2016, with a Leica M6 on Kodak Portra and Fuji Velvia 35mm film, developed by Thanks to the Maria Island rangers for returning the lost roll of film (16.000km by mail).

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