“Penguin!” Hadyn shouted at every black and white bird on the horizon. Knowingly, he mistakes large gulls for the little local inhabitants that nest along Bicheno’s rocky shoreline. Someone has unscientifically (and rather boringly) named them Little Penguins; they are the tourist attraction for this, also little, East Coast town. Fuzzy black wings wave at you from souvenir magnets, or drive old Volkswagen vans on cartoon postcards. In the midst of the region’s ‘Busy Season,’ we saw more of these battered, vintage vehicles – and the typecast wild-haired, wild-pant-ed people who drove them – than we do penguins. But with two main streets, one post office and one general store, it only takes two VWs to make the place feel crowded.
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155 Kms from Bicheno
Hobart would be your next stop, home of the Cascade Brewery and David Walsh’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). The first and last on that list are absolute must-do’s. Any nightlife or shopping will take place on the waterfront by Salamanca Place. Make sure you stop by the Cargo Bar Pizza Lounge for drinks and gourmet pizzas you’ve never heard of. Though on the pricey side, you’ll love every bite.
138 Kms from Bicheno
The final stop before heading back to Devonport is Launceston. If you can return your car on Tassie and fly back from Launceston (or even Hobart) instead, I’d recommend it. As fun as it is, you won’t want to take that ferry more than once. The James Boags brewery is located here, along with the Tasmania Zoo. If you’re into wildlife (especially birds) you’ll want to make a pit stop. It’s a bit run-down but they do have Tasmanian Devil feeding sessions. And if there’s one thing you can’t leave Tassie without seeing, it’s The Devil!
149 Kms from Bicheno
From Hobart, head to Port Arthur. It’s a bit out of the way but if you’re interested in the history of convicts in Australia, this is where you’ll want to go. Spend a day walking the grounds of the ancient penal colony and take a boat ride to some of the haunted islands just off the coast. A lot of Port Arthur has fallen apart at this point, and much of it is undergoing renovations, but that shouldn’t stop you. I’m not a big history buff but Port Arthur definitely got my wheels spinning. Talk to any of the locals around town and, if you want to save $30, they’ll give you the low-down on how to sneak in through the side. It’s easier than you’d think.