With a forgiving climate, some of the state’s most iconic scenery and fresh produce galore, the allure of Tasmania’s east coast is hard to resist.

Story By Don Fuchs

"We do it pretty easy on this coast,” says semi-retired crayfisherman Greg Rainbird. It is a late summer Sunday afternoon and Greg is sitting on his boat, safely moored at a jetty in St Helens harbour. There is a stiff, cool westerly blowing, meaning there is snow on the mountains up in the highlands, and wet and rough conditions along the west coast. Over St Helens, however, the sky is blue. “Good working out here,” Greg says. “Wind’s a lot better on this coast than on the west coast.” Into fishing since he was 14, Greg came to St Helens “when the scallops were good, back in the old days, in the early ’80s”. He ended up staying in the east coast’s largest town, concentrating on catching crayfish. Over the years he built up a prosperous business that he has now passed on to his son.

These days the fishing industry is not as big as it was when Greg started out. “Tourism is the big thing now,” he says. “Good climate, the beaches, free camping – we have a lot of good camping here.”

Greg’s home town of St Helens is the beginning of a journey down the east coast of Tasmania to the famous convict settlement of Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula. The east coast, often dubbed the holiday coast, is blessed with a mild, Mediterranean climate and great natural beauty. It is a route to some of the best scenery and the biggest tourism icons Tasmania has to offer. The Tasman Highway and, further south, the Arthur Highway define the drive but, while the highways run through stunning scenery, some of the big attractions and highlights are accessed by venturing off these main traffic arteries.

St Helens’ natural showpiece is St Helens Point Conservation Area, with wide sweeping surf beaches on one side and the calm waters of Georges Bay on the other. Don’t miss the rippled sandhills of the Peron Dunes. From here the view goes back towards blue hills and mountains that form the backdrop of the coast.

This story excerpt is from Issue #79

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2011