St Helens - Pieces of the Past

Contributed By Gavin Wyatt

A tour through the north east of Tasmania is a journey through a kaleidoscope of colour. Inland there are the lush green rolling fields and the dark pine forests, punctuated by the purples and yellows of the fields of poppies and lavenders that flower in the spring. The blue sky overhead is complemented by the bright azure tones of the sea when the coastline comes into view, and it's the pristine white sands of the beaches that demarcate the boundary between land and sea. A colourful and lively town in its own right, St Helens is a coastal resort town tucked into the north east corner of the island, surrounded by the inimitable Tasmanian coast and country.

Its a great place to base your campervan and explore the surrounding attractions from. The largest town on the north east coast with a population of 2000 people, St Helens is a quaint settlement that has the historic charm and character of a Cornish fishing village. Essentially a fishing port, it is perched upon the still waters of Georges Bay which are sheltered by the long headland of St Helens Point. Most of the town is dependent on fishing as an income, and it is a large pull factor for tourists in the region, with St Helens being known as the game fishing capital of Tasmania. In March each year the town population swells with visitors partaking in the St Helens Game Fishing Classic, a renowned fishing competition.

Fishermen have the pleasure of fishing from one of the world's most spectacular coastlines, with rugged rock formations and golden sandy beaches lying side by side. Driving north from the town in your motorhome within fifteen minutes you will be in Binalong Bay, a tiny village built on a serene and calm bay that is a great spot for a relaxing day in the sun. If you continue north you reach the Bay of Fires, which has been voted by a reputable travel magazine as having the second best beach in the world. Upon arriving there you can see why- its sandy expanse is strewn with giant granite boulders, creating a picturesque effect that is intensified by the blue ocean and the abundance of birds that call the bay home. The underwater attractions are just as impressive, with divers flocking to the bay to explore its underwater caves and kelp forests.

If its a break from the madding crowd that your after then the north east of Tasmania is the antidote you are looking for. An especially remote, but exceptionally beautiful, area is the Mount William National Park. Beginning at the top end of the Ansons River and ending at Musselroe Bay, this rugged park will astound you with its scenery and provide you with the nature-oriented break you crave. Expect to bump into all forms of wildlife, from wombats to kangaroos and a myriad of birdlife. There are camping areas through the park, but no shops and few facilities, so be prepared to rough it a bit. Some places provide drinking water but its best to come prepared with your own supplies- its the perfect escape into an unchanged world!

If you're a bushwalker than the area around St Helens will excite you no end. There is the magnificent coastline to explore along with the lush forests and rolling hills of the hinterland. At Diana's Basin, to the south of the town, you will find an amazing example of geological folds (an ancient rock formation) that make for great hiking, and the views of the ocean here are stunning. At St Mary's, which lies about a 25 minute drive inland from St Helens, there is an impressive rocky hill known as St Patricks Head which is a favourite amongst hikers. It is quite challenging however, and in some sections there are chains to assist you on the way up. You will agree that the panoramic views from the top are just reward for your efforts!

When you hire a camper and go on a tour of the north east of Tasmania you are stepping into another world, one where the everyday problems of your life simply melt away. It is not unheard of for holidaymakers to pack everything in and move here after their vacation to the region, unable to leave the laid back lifestyle and the stunning vistas behind them. So why don't you give it a try? At the very least you will leave refreshed and re-invigorated, and who knows... it could be your new home!

Gavin Wyatt is a journalist with a passion for travel. originally from Zambia he has traveled around the world to end up on the sunny shores of Australia. For more of his articles visit Discovery Campervans Tasmania

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