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Bicheno

 
 
Halfway up the east coast, BICHENO (pronounced "bish-eno"), sheltered in Waubs Bay , is a busy crayfishing and abalone port. The same conditions that make Bicheno ideal for fishing also make it a perfect spot for diving . The usually clear waters are rich with a variety of marine life, and there's a marine reserve on the eastern side of Governor Island , with spectacular large caves and extraordinary vertical rockfaces with swim-throughs and drop-offs. The Bicheno Dive Centre, 4 Tasman Highway (tel 03/6375 1138), offers dive courses and rents out gear. Information on other activities around Bicheno is available from the Bicheno Information Centre on the Tasman Highway (daily 9am-5.30pm; tel 03/6375 1333), which arranges diving, horse riding, cycling, and a wide variety of local tours, the most popular being the evening tours to a local penguin rookery (nightly; $15) and a one-hour glass-bottom boat tour of the marine reserve ($15). Opposite the information centre, the French-owned Le Frog's Corner shop is the base for the tour operator Le Frog Trike Rides (tel 03/6375 1777 or 0407 511 454), which runs a range of motorbike tours; amongst the offerings is a day-trip ($200) complete with wine and frog's legs sampling and a visit to a local oyster farm. The Sea Life Centre (daily 9am-5pm; $5), on the Tasman Highway, has a rather dingy aquarium but an excellent seafood restaurant (daily 9am-9pm; reserve for dinner on 03/6375 1311).

 

Bicheno makes a pleasant stopover, as it has plenty of accommodation . You can camp at the East Cost Caravan Park at 4 Champ St (tel 03/6375 1999, fax 6375 1956; on-site vans $35-50, cabins $70-90); or stay at the well-equipped Bicheno Backpackers Hostel , 11 Morrison St (tel 03/6375 1651, under $20). For something really special, head for the Bicheno Hideaway at 179 Harveys Farm Rd (tel 03/63751312, fax 6375 1700; $115-150), 3km south of Bicheno, where uniquely designed oceanfront self-contained chalets are set on six acres of natural bushland teeming with wildlife. Other options include the central Beachfront Family Resort , near the information office on the Tasman Highway (tel 03/6375 1111, fax 6375 1130; $90-115), which has a pool and bikes to rent; and the Bicheno Gaol , on the corner of James and Burgess streets (tel 03/6375 1430; $115 and upwards), which offers cottage accommodation in the old prison and its converted stables. Food , too, is excellent in Bicheno. The formal Cyrano French Restaurant , at 77 Burgess St (daily from 6.30pm; tel 03/6375 1137), is in the classic French vein, while the Long Boat Tavern , on the Tasman Highway, has the best counter meals. The Blue House Mobile Kitchen is a food van that sets up each evening next door to the information centre; it offers reasonably priced, BYO alfresco dining and is a very popular meeting place. For a good all-day breakfast and real coffee try the Freycinet Bakery at 45 Foster St (daily 8am-4pm), or head for Mary Harvey's Kitchen in the gardens of the Bicheno Gaol , where you can sample some gourmet Tasmanian products (daily 10.30am-5pm).

To get to Freycinet National Park by bus from Bicheno, take the Coles Bay-Bicheno Coach Service (tel 03/6357 0293), which leaves from the Night Owl takeaway at 52 Burgess St.

 
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Hotels in Bicheno
 
 

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