The north east of Tasmania is rich in romantic sentiment, an area whose natural beauty is offset by its long history and and established cultures. Driving through the countryside the most striking thing you will notice is the depth and the variation of colour- in the sky, in the vegetation and in the soil itself. Vineyards and farmlands merge into tall green forests in the countryside, and when you near the coast the deep blue of the ocean will spread out before you, bordered by stunning white beaches, and red rocky headlands. A town in this region which is favoured by visitors because of its seaside location and its proximity to many of the natural attractions is St Helens.
St Helens has a resident population of about 200 people, making it the largest town on the north east coast. Its reached by a scenic coastal drive from Hobart (250 kilometres), or an 150 kilometre drive east from Launceston. It was a fishing port initially established as a whaling base in the 19th Century, and ironically today it is still large marine creatures that attract people here. Across the sand bar the waters are rife with gamefish such as Albacore Tuna and Yellowfin Tuna, and the town is recognised as the game fishing capital of Tasmania, a title cemented by its hosting of the 'St Helens Classic', a deep sea fishing competition that draws over 100 boats every March. St Helens is essentially a fishing port, with fishing being its chief source of income alongside tourism. So whether its reef, coastal or deep sea fishing you are after, you'll find it here- or if youd rather enjoy the fruits of the ocean instead of catching it yourself then sit back in one of the restaurants and enjoy some of the freshest seafood around.
Built on the shores of St Georges Bay, the town is sheltered by the long headland of St Helens Point, a large portion of which is a public conservation area. The headland is popular amongst bushwalkers, as are many of the nearlying regions. To the south there is a stunning coastal reserve where high sand dunes lie next to thick wooded forests on one side and a magnificent white beach on the other. Immaculately clean, it is perfect for long romantic walks! Nearby lies Diana's Basin, where you can see an amazing example of geological folds, the peak of which offer stunning views of the ocean. The hinterland is just as appealing to bushwalkers. At St Mary's, which is a 25 minute drive inland, there is a large rocky hill known as St Patricks Head which is popular amongst hikers. The views are stunning, although there is a fair degree of effort required to see them, as some parts of the hill are so steep there are chains to heave yourself up with.
To the north of St Helens lies one of the most popular tourist regions in Tasmania, the Bay of Fires. The town of Binalong Bay, ten minutes drive north, is the gateway to the Bay, and is home to a pristine beach of its own. The Bay too is characterised by extremely white sands (a result of the large presence of granite in the ground), azure water and large red boulders. The area is very popular amongst scuba divers because of the waters clarity and the large underwater caves they explore. Extensive kelp forests are also a unique feature, which help contribute to the large array of marine life under the surface. As a result rock and surf fishing are very popular around the Bay.
Just a little further north of this bay is Mt William National Park, a place that constantly fascinates and delights. Teeming with animals and birdlife, the park is a haven for marsupials including the Forester Kangaroo, the second largest marsupial in the world. The beautiful beaches of the park complement its rugged interior, where you can find the 216 metre high Mt William. Another spot worth visiting is Eddystone Point, primarily because of its large granite lighthouse. The three houses at the station are the oldest surviving lighthouse quarters in Australia, and in the secluded bases close at hand there are numerous crayfish and abalone. There are a few sheltered camping areas that have been developed in the park, mostly around Stumpy's Bay towards the north. Another one lies close to the Musselroe Bay township.
Whatever kind of holiday you are looking for in the north east of Tasmania you will find it. St Helens is in a fortunate geographical location where the surrounding hills and the warm ocean currents have produced a micro climate of plenty warmth and sunniness. With the friendly people and lots of nearby attractions to explore in your rental car, this is as good a place as any to spend a few delays relaxing and rejuvenating.
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 Tasmanian Car Hire