A tiny village in the foothills of the Great Western Tiers, Wilmot is noted for its lush and sweeping valley views. Wilmot services the surrounding rural area and the occasional tourist who stops off on their way to Cradle Mountain. Its iconic general store, which burnt to the ground in February 2014, was the birthplace of the Coles retail empire.
En route to the town are numerous roadside lookouts with views to Mount Roland and Lake Barrington. The 20-minute climb to the summit of Bell Mountain (803 metres) is steep but rewards you with uninterrupted, 360-degree views of surrounding mountains including Mount Roland, Mount Claude, Mount Vandyke, the Great Western Tiers, Cradle Mountain and Black Bluff. Where Is it? 67 km south east of Burnie, 41 km south of Devonport, 141 km from Launceston on Cradle Mountain Road.
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In The Area
Follow the road from Wilmot to Devonport travel down the aptly named 'Valley of the Views', which is also known as the Wilmot Novelty Letterbox Trail. Not only will you be treated to some great scenery, you ll find the road is lined with the most interesting and unique array of letterboxes you are ever likely to see. Someone started the trend a few decades ago, it caught on and now everyone has one! Also look out for the graphic portrayal of Wilmot s history by local artists and school children on telegraph poles along the road.
When coming to Wilmot from Sheffield, you will go through the most quaintly named place in Australia - No Where Else. What is there at No Where Else? Not much really, there are no shops, no pub, no general store or toilets, just a few farm houses and an interesting sign to have your photo taken under! Nowhere Else came into being because the original road from Barrington ended at the entrance to a farm. When drivers asked the farmer what was further on he told them 'No where Else'.
If you follow Nowhere Else Road, you'll head towards Mt Roland, which sits in all its magnificence in front of you. On the way you'll passed through another interestly named place - Promised Land. Stop the car and check out the scenery and you'll see why it's called Promised Land. There is also a Paradise and a Crackpot (this refers to a town, not a person) in this neck of the woods, just in case you thought a place name can't get any funnier than Nowhere Else.
Paradise was named by a land-prospecting farmer who came through dense undergrowth cover, emerging to find a magnificent view of Mt. Roland. Sitting down at the base of a large gum tree, he was said to exclaim "This is truly paradise". Scottish pioneer settlers bestowed these unusual place names as they opened up the land. Since many of them had been forced off their lands by English Lords or religious persecution, it is no wonder that they viewed this place as a gift of providence. Paradise is the considered by those who live there to be the gateway to the best of the Tasmanian Wilderness areas - including the spectacular Cradle Mountain and Lake Saint Clair National Parks, Liffey Falls and the Mole Creek caves.
After all these funny names, it will come as no surprise to find there is also village of Lower Crackpot at Promised Land. Part of Tasmazia, Lower Crackpot is a whimsical model village built to 1/5th scale. Each building has a story to tell, and is connected to real people. There is the Cathy Freeman Sports Centre. Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen is the member for Lower Crackpot, complete with ivory tower.
The village is dedicated to all those in middle life who, in this new economic age, are 'adjusted' out of their jobs, professions, businesses, farms, careers and thrown onto the economic scrap heap, there to start again, some way, as happened to its creator, Brian Inder at age 54. The village, at the entrance to Lake Barrington International Rowing Course, is meant as an inspiration to these people - you can pick yourself up and succeed in a new life, you can thumb your nose at the "new order" and still have a ball.
Best known for its 2,000 metre, eight-lane international-standard rowing course, used for rowing, canoeing and water skiing competitions, Lake Barrington was created on the Forth River in 1969 to provide a head of water for the Devils Gate Power Station. The foreshore is protected by the Tasmanian Government as a nature recreation area. Picnic areas with sheltered tables, BBQs and toilets are available within the reserve. A kiosk operates on weekends in summer and during major sporting events. Lake Barrington is used by Australia's Olympics rowing team for training purposes.
The lake is a popular water ski location with access via West Kentish on one side of the lake and Wilmot on the other. There are two water ski clubs based at Lake Barrington: Kentish Aquatic Club and Horsehead Water Ski Club. The lake is also used for canoeing and trout fishing. There is an adventure playground and a two-hour rainforest walk.
Discover Wilmot's rich pioneer history at the Museum and Visitor Centre. The displays include historical information, old relics and an extensive display of photographs. Visitor information available. Location: Main St, Wilmot
The personal link which the Coles family has long enjoyed with Tasmania began in the early years of the century. Victorian shopkeeper George Coles Senior, who ran a chain of general stores across rural Victoria, moved to the small country town of Wilmot in Tasmania where he purchased another shop, which at the time was in bankruptsy. Needless to say Coles struggled to make a success of what appeared to be an unsuccessful business. Coles' eldest son George James "G.J." Coles (1885 - 1977) who worked in the store with his father and brothers, was eager to turn the company around and decided to investigate the F. W. Woolworth s 'five and dime' stores that were enjoying success overseas.
In 1914, he made a trip to United States of America and Britain, and came back with a plan to open more stores, but modelled after the American and British methods of retailing, and in the bigger cities on the Australian mainland. The first of these discount stores was in the inner Melbourne suburb of Collingwood. "G.J." and his brother James Scouler "Jim" (1 July 1888 - 10 August 1916) opened their store in Smith Street, Collingwood towards the end of 1914 with capital of £2000. Their slogan was "Nothing over a shilling", which in the early 1930s became "Nothing over 2/6d". From these modest beginnings began the retailing chain which carried George's name - G.J. Coles & Co. - that was destined to become Australia's biggest.
Jim, who had been educated at Geelong College, never got to see the retail empire that would develop out of their tiny 3d, 6d and 1/- store. With the advent of World War I, he joined the AIF in August 1915, served in France with the (2nd Division) 4th Field Artillery Brigade during World War I and was killed in action. Brother Arthur William "A.W." Coles (6 August 1892 2 April 1985) joined the 6th Battalion in August 1914. He was twice wounded in action (at Gallipoli and in France) and was repatriated in 1916. Brother David Henry Coles (July 1894 - 20 October 1917), who had little to do with the business, moved to Wilmot after George took over the business. He served in Belgium with the (4th Division Artillery) 10th Field Artillery Brigade during World War I and died of wounds.
Norman C. Coles, the youngest brother, who was born to George Coles senior's second wife Ann Cameron, in Victoria, received his primary education in Wilmot. He joined G. J. Coles & Coy. Ltd in 1924 and became managing director 1967 - 1975. He was chairman of the board from 1968, and deputy chairman of K-mart (Australia) Ltd. from 1967. He was knighted in 1977.
When "G.J." spread his retail wings and moved to Melbourne, other family members took over the Wilmot store, which became a profitable little business. In its heyday the Coles store in Wilmot actually had about 15 employees and three trucks were used to take supplies to the surrounding areas. The Wilmot store was sold to non-family interests in 1921, after being in the family for 11 years.
The original Coles Store in Wilmot burnt to the ground in February 2014. It had been preserved with many of the fittings of its heyday. Forensic testing has determined the blaze was deliberately lit near the shop's cash register. New owners were due to take over within days of the fire. Cradle Manor, the former home of George Coles, still stands in the main street a short distance from where his store once stood. Located at 62 Main Road, Wilmot, Cradle Manor was built in the early 1900s. Cradle Manor today provides accommodation, its self-contained units are furnished with delightful colonial furnishings and set in lovely English style gardens.
The moderate walk to Forth Falls, about 3km from Wilmot, is through native bush and starts at the Garden Cafe. The walk takes 30 minutes to the Lower Falls and 40 minutes to the Upper Falls, returning via the cafe. The Forth Falls walking track forms part of the Tasmanian Trails network. The moderate walk is through temperate forest with views over Lake Barrington and goes along to Quoll Point. The walk takes about 30 minutes.
Location: the walk to the falls starts near the visitor centre just inside the Cradle Mountain National Park, 3km from Wilmot.
Dooley's Trail runs along the Wilmot River from Alma Reserve to Spellmans Reserve at Castra. This walking/riding trail follows the original track carved out by James Dooley in the 1850s who sought to link Forth to the mines along the river to Gad Hill, Black Bluff and beyond. A loop track has now been created to allow for a return journey with low water crossings marked along the route.
The Great Western Tiers are the northern face of the Tasmanian Central Plateau, which rises up to 1420m above sea level and is dominated by Cradle Mountain. In the foothills of the Great Western Tiers can be found a wide range of attractions both man made and natural which can be explored on this drive.
Allow a full day for the drive; add additional time if you are contemplating taking any of the bushwalks in the area or spending more time than a quick visit. The Great Western Tiers are the gateway to Tasmania's best known National Parks - Cradle Mountain, Lake St. Clair and Walls Of Jerusalem - as well as an alternative route to the west coast of Tasmania.