If anywhere in Tasmania conforms to the Aussie stereotype of white beaches and azure seas beneath a cloudless sky, it is the east coast. Sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds and washed by warm currents (well, warm by local standards), this is the state’s holiday playground; cheerful and unpretentious, not to mention sunnier and drier than elsewhere thanks to prevailing weather patterns. Small wonder it’s popular – prices go up and accommodation is scarce from Christmas to mid-February during school summer holidays.

The Gold Coast this is not, however. The coastline itself remains relatively undeveloped, and the few settlements are small-fry fishing and holiday towns like Swansea and Bicheno. It speaks volumes that St Helens, gateway to the spectacular white beaches of the Bay of Fires, is the largest settlement with a population of just over two thousand. If even that seems too many, there are four national parks for escape, including Maria Island (the whole island), an entire peninsula at Freycinet National Park and staggeringly beautiful empty beaches in Mount William National Park at the northeast tip of the state. Come to kayak, surf, swim or just enjoy the salt-tanged atmosphere. And if that sounds good, the string of bushcamps here lets you stay at the fringes of one beautiful beach after another, often without paying a cent.

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