Drive eastwards from Launceston and you enter a strange new world – one of the island’s most rugged and remote regions. Some say it is the last refuge of the Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine).
The north east is a land of infinite variety and contrasting colours, from fertile fields to dark forbidding forests, quiet fishing villages to craggy granite peaks – climaxing in the perfectly formed half-moon of Wineglass Bay.
Heading north out of Launceston you soon come to Lilydale, where there is a good reason for a diversion into the Pipers River region, to sample prestigious world-renowned wines.
Continuing on the route, you arrive in Nabowla, which has the fine spectacle of the largest oil-producing lavender farm in the southern hemisphere. The next main centre is Scottsdale, which provides some interesting activities. First stop is the Sidelong Lookout above the town with its extensive views over rich dairy land pastures. >From Scottsdale you can head north on a day trip to enjoy sun, sand and surf at the prime seaside resort of Bridport, or take a 4WD safari into the rugged surrounding hills. Be sure to visit the Forest Eco Centre for a full appreciation of this remote region.
Travelling east on the Tasman Highway there is an opportunity to turn off to Ringarooma and the Mt Victoria Reserve. Tasmania’s highest single-drop waterfall, Ralphs Falls is the main drawcard here. If time permits you can do the popular Cash’s Gorge Loop Walk.
The next town of interest is Derby, where the fascinating Tin Mine Centre gives you a great insight into the living conditions of early miners in their primitive shantytown. Further on at Weldborough Pass, take a break for a pleasant ramble on the Myrtle Rainforest Walk and later stop at Pyengana to see the Halls Falls and St Columba Falls.
When you reach St Helens on the Tasman Sea you may think the north east has revealed all its secrets, with its ever present sense of history and ever-changing palette of colours. The best is still to come. The St Helens History Room provides a good orientation for the area and then the action begins. Big game fishing charters and boat cruises offer superb views of this stunning coast and 4WD tours and coastal treks reveal phenomenal vistas of the Mt William National Park, Bay of Fires Conservation Area, Eddystone Lighthouse, The Gardens and the Peron Dunes. The beaches, craggy outcrops and secluded coves are quite sensational with sparkling white sands, aquamarine sea and prolific ocean and bird life. You may be reluctant to leave this special place.