Its mild and sunny climate, abundant marine life, beautiful coastal scenery and proximity to vineyards and three major national parks make Bicheno a very popular holiday destination. This little town just north of the Freycinet Peninsula is a seaside paradise that is home to fewer than 1,000 people.
Bicheno is a little under 180 km to the northeast of Hobart and you can easily reach it via the A3, the Tasman Highway. From Launceston, it’s a distance of almost 160 km, which includes driving south on National Highway 1, also known as the Midland Highway, to Campbell Town and then turning onto the B34, the Lake Leake Highway. North of Swansea the Lake Leake Highway joins the Tasman Highway for the last stretch.
The original inhabitants of the area were mainly from the Oyster Bay tribe, also called the Paradarerme. However, it’s likely that bands from the Ben Lomond and North Midlands tribes migrated here in winter too, to escape the cold in the interior.
Whalers and sealers settled in what would become Bicheno in the early 1800s. Originally the settlement was called Waubs Harbour, after Wauba Debar. Wauba was an Aboriginal woman who had been kidnapped as a teenager to become the wife of a sealer. This was quite a common practice in those days and the girls were often taken as much for their hunting and fishing skills as for the fact that they could share the men’s beds. Wauba was a strong swimmer and when her husband and another sealer were shipwrecked during a storm, she swam out to the spot about 1 km offshore and rescued them. She died at sea in 1832 and in an act that was very unusual for the time, in 1855 some local settlers raised funds to put a headstone on her grave. Wauba’s gravesite is in the park at the end of Burgess Street, near the Australian Merchant Navy Memorial and overlooking the harbour.
The town was later renamed Bicheno, after James Ebenezer Bicheno, who was Colonial Secretary for Van Diemen’s Land between 1842 and 1851. Bicheno was an amateur botanist and Bicheno’s finch was named in his honour too.
One of the few historic buildings still standing in Bicheno is the Old Court and Gaol House, which dates from 1845 and is located in James Street. In the late 1840s, coal was discovered to the north of town and in 1849 the Douglas River Coal Company started operating here. Convict labour was used to build a tramway for transporting the coal to the harbour, which was expanded in 1854. At East Coast Natureworld 7 km north of town you can still see the remains of the coal mines. This is a good place to see Tasmanian wildlife, including Tasmanian devils.
Bicheno Post Office opened in 1855 and the settlement was declared a township eleven years later. However, many of the people living here left for the goldfields of Victoria in the 1850s and Bicheno’s economy became based on fishing.
Fishing is still a major pastime. Off Governor Island you’ll also find excellent dive sites. If you prefer to remain dry, you can explore the marine wonders here in Tassie’s only glass bottom boat. Another option is to visit the Bicheno Aquarium. The Diamond Island Nature Reserve is home to Little Penguins and from Whalers Lookout you may be able to spot whales. There are wonderful coastal walks around Bicheno too, such as the one to Rocking Rock and the blowhole. in Burgess Street you’ll also find the Bicheno Motorcycle Museum.
Even though Bicheno has plenty to keep you busy, it also makes a great base from which to explore the wineries in the area. Moreover, Douglas-Apsley National Park is located just to the northwest of town while Ben Lomond National Park and Freycinet National Park are easy day trips away.
Things to Do in Bicheno.
As well as all of the usual outdoor activities there are many things to do in Bicheno :-
Bicheno Visitor Information Centre. Tasman Highway, Bicheno.
East Coast Natureworld. 18356 Tasman Highway, Bicheno (7 kms north of Bicheno) See more here.
See-All Fishing and Marine Tours. The Gulch, Bicheno, See more here.
Bicheno Penguin Tours. Town Centre, Tasman Highway, Bicheno. See more here.
Bicheno Blowhole. The Esplanade, Bicheno.
Devils in the Dark. Tasman Highway, Bicheno. See more here.
Bicheno Dive Centre. 2 Scuba Court, Bicheno. See more here.
Bicheno’s Glass Bottom Boat. Esplanade, The Gulch, Bicheno. Phone (03) 6375 1294 email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Bicheno’s Motorcycle Museum and Restoration. 35 Burgess Street, Bicheno. See more here.
The Grave of Waubedebar. Old Tram Road, Bicheno (near the tennis courts) See more here.
The Gulch, Gulch Road, Bicheno – Open 24 hrs.
Recreation Ground, Burgess Street, Bichno – Open 24 hrs.
Jetty Road, Bicheno – Open 24 hrs.
A Great Australian Secret “Team Experience”
On a photographic trip along the East Coast of Tasmania we stayed at The Wintersun Gardens Motel in Gordon Street, Bicheno. It gave us a centralised base to travel north and south along the coast. Although basic and budget priced, our room was clean, warm and very comfortable and suited our purposes admirably. We also found the management there to be very helpful and friendly and will certainly return there on any future trips to the area.
Road Alert – When we were returning to Bicheno from St Helens one evening in the dark, we missed our turning and ended up in St Marys instead of travelling down the Tasman Highway, so we drove down Elephant Pass Road to The Chain of Lagoons north of Bicheno. It was very dark and stormy and this road is quite steep and very bendy in places. If traveling this road please take care and drive slowly.