East Coast beauty a tourism drawcard

THE East Coast is the place to be this summer.

Freycinet National Park is choc-a-block full and the population of St Helens has almost doubled as people escape for a summer getaway.

Brisbane's Scott Hellewell, his wife Angela and their two children spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day revelling in the beautiful Bay of Fires at Binalong Bay, before they set off on a road trip around Tasmania.

``We are here for two weeks . . . this is our first time to Tasmania and from what we've seen it is beautiful,'' Mr Hellewell said.

``Binalong Bay is just amazing.''

John Mason, of Hobart, is spending his annual 10 days at the St Helens caravan park.

``We normally come at either Christmas or Australia Day,'' he said.

``This is our favourite spot.''

Break O'Day Mayor Sarah Schmerl said she was buoyed by the invasion of holidaymakers to the region - giving retailers a much needed financial boost.

``St Helens has always been the holiday capital of Tasmania and that's still the case,'' Cr Schmerl said.

``It is fantastic to see the influx of tourists coming here.

``We've had an excellent start to the season and I'm sure it will continue.''

The state's national parks reported a 4 per cent increase in visits for 2012-13 -  almost 25,000 more than the previous 12 months.

About 191,000 people visited Freycinet last financial year and Parks and Wildlife are turning back tourists and there are big delays as car parks and roads reach capacity, from people trying to catch a glimpse of Wineglass Bay and The Hazards.

Trailers and caravans are not permitted into the park beyond the visitor centre.

People are advised to visit Sleepy Bay, Friendly Beaches, Muirs Beach, Richardsons Beach, Swanwick beaches and Moulting Lagoon during 10am and 2pm.

For further information, call the Freycinet Visitor Centre on 6256 7000.

FREE CAMPSITES

Bay of Fires-Binalong Bay: Swimcart Beach, Cosy Corner, Policemans Point, Sloop Reef, Grants Lagoon and Dora Point.

St Helens: Humbug Point nature reserve.

Bicheno: Lagoons Beach and Little Beach, between Bicheno and St Helens.

Coles Bay:  Moulting Lagoon game reserve.

Musselroe Bay: Musselroe Bay.

Scamander: Scamander Conservation Area.

Swansea: Mayfield Bay.

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