Launceston is Tasmania’s second biggest city and the perfect base for exploring the north of the state. Driving from Launceston to Bay of Fires takes you through some super scenic countryside with many great things to see along the way.
The Bay of Fires is one of the most iconic natural landmarks of Tasmania and a must-visit while in the state. This Launceston to Bay of Fires road trip guide will show you the best route to take all the stops that you shouldn’t miss.
Watching the iconic, fiery orange rocks light up at sunset is an absolute highlight of a Tasmanian road trip. Read on to discover the best place to experience this as well as several other bucket-list Tasmanian experiences.
Table of Contents
Launceston to Bay of Fires Road Trip – Overview
Launceston to Bay of Fires Road Trip Summary
Day 1 – Leave Launceston and drive to Binalong Bay, stopping at some great spots along the way.
Night 1 – Bay of Fires/Binalong Bay
Day 2 – Explore the Bay of Fires and surrounding attractions
Night 2 – Bay of Fires/Binalong Bay
Day 3 – Return directly to Launceston or take the long route via wineries, lavender fields and more
Distance from Launceston to Bay of Fires
The distance from Launceston to Bay Of Fires (Binalong Bay) is 171km on this route via the A3.
How Long Will I Need for a Launceston to Bay of Fires Road Trip?
You should plan at least 3 days/2 nights to see some of the fantastic stops along the way and properly explore the Bay of Fires. With more time to spare you can add one of Tasmania’s best mountain biking locations and/or spend some time in the Tamar Valley.
If you are really short on time, the Bay of Fires takes a little over 2 hours to reach along the A4, so you can even complete it as a day trip.
Best Time of Year To Visit Bay of Fires
If you want to go for a swim then you’ll have to plan for the summer months. You can still enjoy the orange rocks and other sights in cooler temperatures. Travel from Mid-October to Mid-April will give the best chance of sunny days.
Travel Insurance for Road Trips
If you are from overseas then make sure you have good insurance cover before road tripping in Australia. We use World Nomads when we travel as it’s perfect for adventures such as hiking, scuba diving, road trips etc.
Hiring a Car
If you don’t have a car then you can use the following link to search for one. We always use Rental Cars to find the best price between various operators. There is an option to include full insurance with no excess, which is highly recommended.
Launceston to Bay of Fires – 3 Day Road Trip Itinerary
Your destination for today is Binalong Bay, this is the main hub for the Bay of Fires area. While the drive is only around 2 hours and 40 minutes, you’ll want to leave nice and early as there is a lot to see along the way.
This route from Launceston to Bay of Fires follows the A3 (Tasman Hwy). You can set you GPS for ‘Weldborough Pass Rainforest Walk’ as this is the first stop along the route. It’s a solid 121km stretch of driving but very scenic and there are several lookouts along the way.
Optional: Mountain Biking in Derby
I’ll squeeze in an aside here for the keen mountain bikers. Around 25km before you reach the rainforest walk you’ll pass through the town of Derby. This is one of Tasmania’s best mountain biking locations.
You’ll likely need to add at least one day to the itinerary if you want to explore the trails. There are options for every level of rider and plenty of local shops offering hire gear and transport.
Weldborough Pass Rainforest Walk
As you ascend through the Weldborough Pass you’ll come across a small pullover for this pleasant rainforest walk. It’s only a 200m trail so won’t take more than 5 minutes to complete. There are a number of super interesting signs that detail some history and facts about Tasmania’s rainforests.
St Columba Falls
Continuing your drive up and over the Weldborough Pass, with some fantastic views along the way, you’ll reach a turnoff for Pyengana. Follow this road to reach this spectacular waterfall.
It’s a very narrow road so don’t attempt it with a large RV or caravan. There’s a parking area at the end with a basic toilet. To reach the fall is a beautiful walk through forest which is around 1.2km return on a reasonably easy gradient.
The fall is over 90m high and has a great water flow in every season. The dense forest setting and multiple cascades of water make this one of the best falls in Tasmania.
Pub in the Paddock
You will have passed this spot on the way to the fall and now that you’ve earned it you can pay a visit! This pub has one of the best beer gardens in the country and is a great place to refresh after your hike.
They serve a range of drinks in a very informal setting, with plenty of non-alcoholic options. You can sit outside (in the paddock!) with views of farmland, forest and distant mountains.
Pyengana Dairy Company
Just next door you’ll find this farm door and café, selling a range of local dairy products. They also have a fantastic outdoor seating area and if you love cheese you’ll be in heaven.
Tasmanian cows are the happiest looking of any I’ve seen and this is reflected in the taste of the products. Grab a delicious ice coffee to fuel up for the next stretch of driving.
There are several other stops you might make between here and Binalong Bay. They are listed below so you can make a choice based on time and preferences.
The Shop in the Bush – Gift store selling a great range of antiques and vintage products.
Serpentarium Wildlife Park – This fantastic wildlife park has a huge variety of snakes as well as lizards, turtles, birds and more.
Wineries – There are two wineries along the route if you want to pick up something local for tonight. Priory Ridge Wines and Sterling Heights Vineyard and Winery both feature cellar doors offering tastings and purchases.
Where to Stay in the Bay of Fires
Your next stop is Binalong Bay and unless you are camping then this is where you will find most of the accommodation options. Most accommodation here are holiday homes which can book out quite quickly.
Check out the recommended option below or click here to browse all accommodation in Binalong Bay.
Bay of Fires Bush Retreat – This property is a short drive outside town but set in beautiful forested surrounds. You’ll have a choice of rooms, bungalows or glamping tents. There’s an onsite bar and fire pits to relax around in the evening.
Free Camping – There are a number of awesome free campsites along the coast of the Bay of Fires. No bookings are possible and they can get busy during holidays. Click the link for further details.
Bay of Fires
The Bay of Fires gets it’s name from the eye-catching orange boulders scattered all along the coastline. The name suggests a single bay but it actually encompasses many small bays from Binalong Bay in the south to Eddystone in the north.
The vibrant colouring of many of the rocks in these bays is due to orange lichen growing on them. This can be found in a number of locations around Tasmania and on the mainland, but there is a particular concentration in this area.
The best way to explore this area is to head to the furthest north point then work your way back to town. Just outside the Binalong Bay township you’ll find ‘Gardens Rd’ heading north along the coast.
Follow this road all the way to the end and you’ll find the parking lot for ‘The Gardens’. This spot has a large concentration of the orange boulders and features a short walking trail with information signs.
This beach is located just a short distance back down the road and was our favourite spot in the Bay of Fires. There’s no official parking lot but you’ll find plenty of parking on the side of the road.
There are some lovely rock pools surrounded by the orange rocks that you can swim in. There is also a white sand beach and if you walk along this you will find a small hidden bay.
This small bay is possibly the most photogenic spot in the whole Bay of Fires. The contrast between the orange rocks and vibrant blue water is on full display here.
Back on the road again you’ll cross a small bridge over Big Lagoon to reach a super scenic stretch of road. The drive takes you along the full curve of Taylors Beach, with amazing ocean views.
There are a number of places to pull over and walk to the beach so you can find your own secluded spot if you like. This is a nice beach and definitely less busy than the previous two.
Heading back towards town there are a couple more nice beaches. These are attached to camp grounds however so can be busier and I’d be surprised if you weren’t happy with the previous choices!
If you want to see them all or are looking for a great place to camp then check out Swimcart Beach and Jeanneret Beach.
The town of Binalong Bay also has it’s own nice beach. You can sightsee in the morning and then spend the afternoon relaxing closer to your accommodation.
There are also some spots to explore to find the perfect photo op. Check out the Skeleton Bay Reserve at the far end of town. There is a lookout built here with beautiful views of the beach and surrounding orange rocks.
If you can find the walking trails down to the north east shore then there are some beautiful secluded bays that are amazing for sunset photography.
Another great sunset option is the Meresta Eatery. This restaurant is perfectly located just across the road from the beach, with fantastic ocean views. This is a popular spot so make sure to book ahead if you want a sunset table!
Return to Launceston
Today you have a few different options. If short on time you can head straight back to Launceston via the fastest route along the A4. This is 175km and will take just over 2 hours.
If you have a more flexible schedule then you could easily spend a few days soaking up the sun on these beautiful beaches. The third option works regardless of whether you are doing 3 days or more.
Optional: Launceston via the Scenic Route
This route is not an official scenic route but rather a string of great sights that I have put together between Launceston and the Bay of Fires. The total distance is 277km if you visit every spot and will take around 4 hours to drive.
Take a look at the recommended stops below and add to your navigation any that take your fancy. They are listed in the order that you will reach them when driving from the Bay of Fires to Launceston.
Little Blue Lake
This first stop is just over an hour from Binalong Bay and a great little detour if you haven’t witnessed this phenomenon before. The lake is formed by an abandoned mine pit and minerals from the area give a vibrant aqua hue to the water.
There is a lookout platform from which you get a good view of the lake and a sign with some history and facts about the lake.
Bridestowe Lavender Estate
This is the most famous and picturesque lavender farm in Tasmania. During the season from December to early February the fields bloom with endless rows of purple bushes. The backdrop of mountains makes this an incredibly photogenic landscape.
Outside of the season this is still a nice place to visit. The estate has a café and gift shop full of lavender products, including lavender ice-cream!
Jansz Tasmania & Pipers Brook Vineyard
These are two of the most celebrated vineyards in Tasmania and just happen to be right next to each other. The location is spectacular with the cellar doors opening onto far reaching vineyards.
Jansz is all about creating amazing sparking wines and their vintage cuvee is possibly the best sparkling I’ve ever had. Head up the opposite hill to Pipers Brook to find a more diverse range of wines including a top notch Pinot Noir.
From the wineries above it’s only a 45 minute drive back to Launceston. This stop will double that time but I think it’s worth it to get up close to these unique creatures.
Tasmania is the best place in Australia to see platypus but they can be hard to spot in the wild. This place allows you to observe them up close and through glass screens so you can see how they feed.
This was a super interesting experience and as an added bonus you can also get up close with echidnas. On the same dock you can also find ‘Seahorse World’ where you can see a large collection of these interesting animals.
Back to Launceston
You’ll end the day with a pleasant drive through the Tamar Valley back to Launceston. There are several other things to see around this area but they can easily be explored on day trips from Launceston. Don’t miss the chance to take a wine tour through this valley as it is Tasmania’s most popular wine region.
I hope you have an amazing time on this Launceston to Bay of Fires road trip! Safe Travels.
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