Local’s Guide to Tasmania’s East Coast

Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park, Tasmania
Tasmania has always held a certain allure for Aussie travellers. But its appeal has skyrocketed in the last 18 months or so, with ‘mainlanders’ finally taking time out to visit its historic cities and towns, explore the majestic national parks, and embrace its feelings of freedom and space.

While Hobart and Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair tend to receive the lion’s share of attention, there’s more to discover beyond these icons alone. The East Coast is one such destination.

It has beautiful beaches, enchanting towns, abundant wildlife and, a surprise for some, wine!

Devil's Corner Winery

Though perhaps not as well known as the Tamar Valley to the north or the Coal River Valley wine region to the south, the East Coast’s grape growing history actually goes back over 180 years. Today there are 22 vineyards in the area, including Devil’s Corner and Craigie Knowe.

Wine lovers Subi and Helen have called the East Coast home for over 20 years, after swapping corporate life for something on their own terms. Now based in the tiny tourist town of Bicheno, roughly two thirds of the way up the coast, the duo currently own and manage The Farm Shed – a dedicated space that showcases the delicious wines, whisky and gin of the East Coast.

Having been passionate fans of its local wine for many years, Subi says they noticed that many of the area’s wineries didn’t have their own cellar doors, and thought there was an opportunity to do something about it. And thus, the idea for The Farm Shed was born.

Subi Mead and Helen Bain from The Farm Shed
Subi Mead and Helen Bain. Image Credit: The Farm Shed.

Housed within a striking contemporary building designed by Maria Gigney, which was inspired by the old farm sheds that dot the area, The Farm Shed is a hub for locals and visitors to learn about, taste and purchase East Coast wines. They offer tastings of 90 wines from all 22 local vineyards, with an enomatic wine bar system allowing tastings of 24 wines at any one time.

When asked what sets local drops apart from those of the Tamar and Coal River Valley regions, Subi believes it’s the area’s microclimate, which is hugely influenced by its coastal location.

“Whilst the whole state is a cool climate wine region, people say our east coast wines, because of the maritime climate that we have, have a soft roundness with a hint of saltiness (without being salty, of course),” says Subi.

“There is, of course, great diversity within each wine type and producer, as we span from St Helens (Bay of Fires) in the north to Marion Bay (just before you get onto the Tasman Peninsula (Port Arthur way) in the south.”

The Farm Shed. Image Credit: Andrew Ross
The Farm Shed. Image Credit: Andrew Ross

Beyond the wines, Subi says the natural beauty of the region makes it a real must-visit too.

Strolls along white sand beaches and over orange lichen-clad rocks, penguin spotting along the scenic Bicheno foreshore walk, and morning ocean swims with locals in Waub’s Bay are a few of Subi’s must-do’s. Peggy’s Point and the Gulch also offer amazing temperate scuba diving.

Aerial view of Bicheno

For history buffs, Subi recommends the history walking trail, which takes in points of interest including the former whaling station and the grave of Aboriginal women Wauba Debar, who rescued six shipwrecked sailors in the 19th century and after whom Waub’s Bay is named.

Bushwalkers will fall in love with Douglas Apsley National Park, just five minutes out of town, which is worth a visit to witness its deep river gorges, enchanting bushland, and thundering waterfalls, while Freycinet and its iconic Wineglass Bay are only 35 minutes away.

The Farm Shed. Image Credit: Andrew Ross
The Farm Shed. Image Credit: Andrew Ross

As many are only now beginning to realise, Tasmania is a gourmet and artistic powerhouse that punches well above its weight, and the East Coast is just one part of a much bigger picture.

Just like the bottles of wine at The Farm Shed, Tasmania is rich and robust, approachable and easygoing, with something to suit every palate and mood. Ready to take the first sip?

View tours of Tasmania here.

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