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The Ultimate Oyster Lovers Guide to Tasmania’s East Coast

It’s the ultimate oyster adventure! Delight your taste buds with the Oyster Lovers Guide to Tasmania’s East Coast and discover the freshest briny treasures from pristine waters.

For me, this is the ultimate road trip where I ate oysters for breakfast, lunch and dinner, much to my non-oyster-loving husband’s disgust!

Come with me on the journey down the east coast of Australia’s southern island state on this Oyster Lover’s Guide. We’ll uncover the hidden gems, share the secrets of the region’s oyster farms, and savour the unique profiles of these succulent molluscs that make Tasmania’s East Coast a haven for connoisseurs of the briny delicacies.

This road trip takes you from Hobart to St Helens and then down the east coast of Tasmania to Bicheno, Coles Bay, Swansea and Orford. You’ll travel on the narrow isthmus to the peninsula of Port Arthur.

Back in Hobart, it’s an easy drive with a ferry crossing to Bruny Island. You’ve then ticked all my favourite spots on this Oyster Lovers Guide to Tasmania’s East Coast.

Get ready to slurp, savour, and indulge in the unparalleled delights of Tasmania’s oyster paradise!

Oyster Lovers Guide to Tasmania’s East Coast - Melshell Oysters

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Melshell Oysters
Jennie Truman. I Am Straddie Arts Trail.

Get ready to slurp, savour, and indulge in the unparalleled delights of Tasmania’s oyster paradise!

Oyster Lovers Guide to Tasmania’s East Coast

I started this Oyster Lovers road trip with a few days in Hobart, exploring this fascinating city’s heritage. You’ll find some unique places to stay along the way on this listI also have a great guide to dining in Tasmania. This list is full of my personal favourites

Best time to travel

The prime time to indulge in oysters is typically from late autumn to early spring. That’s from April/May to October. The oyster season reaches its peak around June and July. However, it’s wise to steer clear of oysters during their spawning season, which occurs in January and February. During this period, oyster farmers let the oyster beds be, allowing these delectable molluscs to carry on with their natural reproductive processes undisturbed. Spawning oysters just don’t taste fabulous, either.

Oyster Lovers Guide to Tasmania’s East Coast starts at beautiful Bay of Fires.

Binalong Bay, Tasmania.

St Helens

Getting to Tasmania’s East Coast is an easy 82 km, one-hour drive from Hobart to Orford. This is the southern start of the coastal trail to St Helens, which is 175 km north. Download the East Coast Tasmania App for trip planning tips and interactive, zoomable maps that can be used offline.

St Helens is a town that loves seafood, and you’ll find it on the menu frequently in local restaurants. Search out the freshest local catch and you won’t be disappointed.

While I’m here to taste my favourite ocean treat, I know that Tasmania’s East Coast offers more than just seafood. This coastline, with the Bay of Fires’ blood-red lichen-tinged rocks, bright blue skies, and uncrowded, sparkling white sand, begs to be explored. It is a 50-kilometre stretch that runs from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point and is an easy day trip from St Helens.

Oyster nirvana at Lease 65.

Straddie Art Trail artist Renata Buziak - Cyanotype Workshop
Straddie Art Trail artist Renata Buziak - Cyanotype Workshop
Straddie Art Trail artist Renata Buziak - Cyanotype Workshop

Oyster Lovers Guide to Tasmania’s East Coast

Lease 65 – My Oyster Nirvana

It was on the road from St Helens to Binalong Bay that I found the oysters against which I judge all others. It took several visits to find them open and selling shucked oysters, but when I did, well, it was like finding paradise.

Lease 65 on the road to Bay of Fires has the sort of plump, juicy, creamy oysters filled with the essence of the sea that will live long in your dreams. Buy them straight from the wharf, freshly shucked for $22 a dozen. Cash only!

Sea urchins on the wharf at St Helens.

Straddie Art Trail artist Renata Buziak - Cyanotype Workshop
Straddie Art Trail artist Renata Buziak - Cyanotype Workshop
Straddie Art Trail artist Renata Buziak - Cyanotype Workshop

Sea Urchins on the wharf at St Helens

Fishing is a big industry in St Helens, and one of the most prized catches is probably the ugliest!

It glows with the colour of a bright yellow autumn leaf drifting lightly to the ground but tastes like fresh ocean water. Sweet and briny, thick and juicy with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, a slice of sea urchin on the wharf at St Helens on Tasmania’s east coast is a rare treat.

Diver Cameron Mead cracked open a sea urchin from his daily haul of 500 kilos for me before the rest were quickly packed into a refrigerated truck heading south to Hobart. Work stops for no one on this wharf as every skipper is keen to keep their Georges Bay catch cold and fresh, so the urchins don’t lose water. Less water means less weight, and they are paid for this export quality product by the kilo. It won’t be long until it is flying to Asia to delight high-end restaurant diners.

In a satisfying climate change twist, invasive long-spined sea urchins that have hitched a ride south on the warming East Australian Current have spawned a lucrative, sustainable catch for the region’s experienced abalone divers. These prolific breeders graze on lush kelp habitats at the expense of local marine life, but the fishermen are working hard to reduce numbers.

Find sea urchin melt on the Oyster Lovers Guide to Tasmania’s East Coast.

Straddie Art Trail artist Renata Buziak - Cyanotype Workshop

St Helens to Bicheno

The distance from St Helens to Bicheno in Tasmania is approximately 85 kilometres by road and typically takes around 1 to 1.5 hours.

From the small coastal centre of St Helens, the journey southward unveils a red-splashed spectacle that includes the world-famous Bay of Fires. Travel the coastal roads, and you’ll encounter the contrasting beauty of azure waters against orange-hued rocks.

Bicheno is a charming seaside town that beckons travellers with its unique blend of natural beauty and coastal charm. Famous for its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a tranquil escape. Don’t miss exploring the nearby Bicheno Blowhole. It really does blow!

Encounters with little penguins, Tasmanian devils, Australian fur seals, and majestic humpback whales are commonplace for locals in this region. Whether you’re exploring Freycinet, Douglas Apsley, or Mt William national parks, or simply taking a leisurely stroll along the beach, wildlife sightings are a regular occurrence. I had them knocking at the door in the middle of the night and scurrying across the yard while I watched from a window.

If you want a guaranteed and immersive wildlife experience, consider one of the many available tours or cruises to see these fascinating creatures in their natural habitats.

With its laid-back atmosphere, friendly locals, and an array of seafood offerings, including the renowned local lobsters, Bicheno captivates visitors with a delightful blend of coastal relaxation and nature’s wonders.

Freycinet Marine Farm. 

Straddie Arts Trail artist Alan McKinnon

Bicheno to Coles Bay and Freycinet Peninsular

Take the picturesque 30-kilometre drive from Bicheno to Coles Bay along Tasmania’s east coast. The route offers breathtaking views of rugged cliffs and coastline, gradually revealing the iconic granite peaks of The Hazards as you approach Coles Bay.  This scenic journey through the heart of the Freycinet Peninsula sets the stage for an adventure exploring Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay.

Coles Bay and the Freycinet Peninsula make a great day trip from Bicheno. Highlights here include a walk or cruise to Wineglass Bay.  It’s a perfect opportunity to explore the region, which I did on a cruise.

Straddie Arts Trail artist Alan McKinnon

Oysters from Freycinet Marine Farm

Freycinet Marine Farm

Make a stop at Freycinet Marine Farm for, yep, you guessed it, more oysters. They also serve fresh local fish and scallops.  Don some waders and find out what it’s like to be an oyster farmer on a Freycinet Marine Farm Oyster Bay Tour. You’ll learn how to shuck and eat an oyster matched with a local Riesling and enjoy a bowl of just harvested steamed mussels. The East Coast is also home to Wineglass Bay. It’s a crescent of sand curved around impossibly aqua verging into blue water that is the ultimate eye candy. You can walk there through Freycinet National Park, but you’ll need reasonable fitness, walking shoes, and a few hours. The easy way is to see it by sea on a cruise. For those unmistakable aerial shots, you can hop on a helicopter or scenic flight.

Saffire Freycinet

Saffire Freycinet is luxury lodge that is absolutely amazing. I had one night there and understand why they want you to stay longer. Their oyster sampling tour is still on my wish list.

Devils Corner Winery. IMAGE: Kerry Heaney

Straddie Arts Trail artist Alan McKinnon
Straddie Arts Trail artist Alan McKinnon

Oysters for breakfast at Devils Corner Winery. 

Devils Corner Winery

Pull into Devils Corner Winery for a 360-degree lookout tower view, excellent estate-produced wines, wood-fired pizza and fresh local oysters from Frecinet Marine Farm. This was a morning stop for me, so I had local oysters for breakfast! Highly recommended.

Melshell Oyster Shack

On the other side of Coles Bay, Melshell Oyster Shack is a small farm run by three generations of the same family. They grow golden shell Angasi oysters and offer shuck and chat sessions that are all about oysters. Try their oyster Kilpatrick kebabs or oyster pate. So, take a seat outside the converted caravan and try their shucked oysters or seafood kebabs with a selection of local wine and beer. I loved this laid-back farm with its caravan shop and views of the oyster farm.

Melshell Oyster Shack menu IMAGE: Kerry Heaney

Straddie Arts Trail artist Alan McKinnon
Straddie Arts Trail artist Alan McKinnon
Straddie Arts Trail artist Alan McKinnon
Straddie Arts Trail artist Alan McKinnon

Melshell Oyster Shack menu IMAGE: Kerry Heaney

Tasman Sea Salt

While it’s not seafood, what’s a seafood meal without some salt? Not far from Rocky Hills, Tasman Sea Salt offers a unique Salt Sommelier Tasting Experience. They pair their four varieties of salt flakes produced from the pristine Tasman Sea with small bites of premium local beef, tomatoes and even chocolate. You’ll be amazed at the flavour variations and the clean energy saltworks.

Straddie Arts Trail artist Alan McKinnon
Straddie Arts Trail artist Alan McKinnon

Tasman Sea Salt tasting IMAGE: Kerry Heaney

Heading South

As you drive south you’ll travel through the towns of Little Swanport, Triabunna and Orford. If you are feeling hungry, these are great stops for fish and chips.

The scenic Arthur Highway takes you on a picturesque 125 km journey to the Tasman Peninsula via Eaglehawk Neck. Notable attractions along the way include the mesmerising Tasman Arch and Blowhole, the intriguing Devil’s Kitchen, and the charming Doo Town. In this unique seaside community, every ‘shack’ boasts whimsical names featuring the word ‘Doo’—from the playful “Make Doo” to the enchanting “Xanadoo” and the welcoming “Doo Drop In.”

Explore the 40-hectare Port Arthur Historic Site, which features 30 buildings and ruins. The layers of historical significance here warrant a minimum half-day for thorough exploration. Stroll through flower-filled gardens and peer into historic homes that seem frozen in time. It’s hard to fathom the profound despair experienced by hardened, repeat offenders who were once sentenced to this remote and isolated location to reform them into honest individuals.

Included in the entry ticket are various tours, including a scenic harbour cruise. While Port Arthur may feel like a world away, it’s no longer the remote and isolated outpost it once was. A mere one-hour drive covers the 90 km journey to Hobart.

Port Arthur IMAGE: Kerry Heaney

Straddie Arts Trail artist Alan McKinnon
Straddie Arts Trail artist Alan McKinnon

Port Arthur IMAGE Kerry Heaney

Bruny Island

If you can never get enough oysters, there’s one more place that has to be on any Oyster Lovers Guide to Tasmania’s East Coast – Bruny Island. From Hobart, it’s 30 kilometres south to the seaside town of Kettering, where you take a car ferry for the 20-minute crossing across the D’Entrecasteaux Channel to Bruny Island. It is a captivating 363 square kilometres of long, deserted beaches, silent forests, towering cliffs, and prolific wildlife.

Get Shucked 

Get Shucked is a fantastic oyster bar that is an absolute must-visit for oyster enthusiasts heading to Bruny Island. From oyster wontons to oyster pate and from oysters Kilpatrick to ones expertly shucked at your table, the menu is a celebration of all things oyster. Adjacent to the farm, a fully licensed bar awaits, providing the perfect setting to enjoy an array of delectable treats. As a locally owned and operated oyster farm, Get Shucked stands proudly among the diverse array of fine food producers on the island. Complement your culinary adventure with a selection of fine Tassie wines, artisan beers, and refreshing ciders for a truly delightful experience. Tasmania’s East Coast is a rare opportunity to taste prime seafood metres from the pristine waters where it grows while touring an impossibly scenic coastline filled with chatty locals. For seafood lovers, it doesn’t get better than that!
Kerry Heaney in Monet in Paris photo garden

Written by Kerry Heaney

Meet Kerry Heaney, an intrepid gastronomic explorer, travelling the globe one delectable bite at a time. Drawing on two decades of experience, she unveils hidden culinary gems and palate-pleasing dishes for your indulgence. A seasoned writer and editor, Kerry's travel stories feature in print and online travel publications, and her food odyssey continues at Eat drink and be Kerry. Follow her escapades on Facebook or join on her latest adventures via Instagram. Kerry's passions include savouring oysters, indulging in art, embracing aquatic experiences, and delighting in new culinary discoveries every time.

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2 Comments

  1. Kerry Heaney

    There’s a seafood shop on the wharf and I would start there. When the boats come it the action is hectic and you need to be with someone to be on the wharf. You might also find it on the menu in St Helens or in some of the good gastro pubs.

  2. Anonymous

    Hi – I’ll be in st helens next week and would love to get some sea urchin – where did you go for sea urchin and do you have a contact number you can share? Thank you!

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Freelance Writer and Content Producer,
Publishing Editor, Eat drink and be Kerry.

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