St Helens

Situated on Georges Bay, St Helens is the largest town on the north-east coast of Tasmania. A popular resort for fishing, swimming and other aquatic activities, its position makes St Helens a good base from which to explore the whole north-east corner of Tasmania. The town is famous for its crayfish, scallops, abalone and flounder. The Scamander River is noted for its bream.

St Helens' economy is dependent on fishing, timber and tourism. And, when it comes to tourism, the town prides itself in its warmth and sunniness - the result of a microclimate produced by surrounding hills and warm ocean currents. Consequently St Helens is warmer than Melbourne in winter and enjoys an average of 22ºC in February. Such is the popularity of the area that it is estimated the population increases tenfold in summer.

Events: St Helens Game Fishing Classic is held every March.

Lookouts: St Helens Point is an elevated headland from which magnificent views of the coast can be obtained.

Where Is it?: St Helens is 256 km north east of Hobart via Midland, Esky and Tasman Highways, and 160 km east of Launceston via Tasman Highway (via Scottsdale) or Eask and Midland Highways (via Conara).

Visitor Centre: 61 Cecilia St. St Helens. Ph (03) 6376 1999

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Bay of Fires Conservation Area

The Bay of Fires, a beautiful piece of wilderness coastline in the north-east corner of Tasmania, stretches from Eddystone Point in the north to Binalong Bay in the south. Characterised by stunning blue water, fishing lagoons, spotless white sandy beaches and orange lichen covered granite boulders, the area is often mentioned internationally in lists of the world's top beaches.

A place of tranquil beauty and one of Tasmania s most popular tourist destinations, this 29-kilometre ribbon of sea, surf and sand is renowned for its island beach culture, cosy cottages and nature walks, not to mention its natural beauty. The bay's unusual name was given to the area by Captain Tobias Furneaux, in 1773, when he saw the smoke from the fires of the local Kunnara Kuna tribe. This led him to believe that the country was densely populated. Abundant evidence of this occupation by Aboriginal people can be seen along the coast today.

Travellers have always been drawn to the Bay of Fires Conservation Area, a ribbon of white sand and azure sea. Aborigines were the first, their campfires giving Europeans a name for their maps. Despite its fame, you re still likely to have these wide ocean beaches and shell-strewn coves to yourself. The maximum stay in any of the campsites is 4 weeks, and you need to bring in your own firewood and water. Access is via Binalong Bay Rd and then Gardens Rd, which runs north along the shore and ends at the Gardens. Tracks lead to the coast along its length.
Binalong Bay

Only 11 km north east of St Helens, Binalong Bay is situated at the southern end of the Bay of Fires. Originally a fishing hamlet, the town is now a village with a large proportion of holiday dwellings. Noted for its rock and surf fishing, it is here that visitors first see the bay s large expanse of untouched coastline, lined with clean, white beaches punctuated by picturesque granite outcrops covered in orange lichen. With an array of accommodation, fishing and diving facilities, and a general store and cafe, Binalong Bay is an idyllic location for those seeking a holiday in heaven  and an ideal starting point for walks along the coastline.

Where Is it?: 9 km north of St Helens

The township marks the southern extremity of the Bay of Fires, an iconic 29-kilometre stretch of coastline renowned for its giant granite boulders covered in orange lichen, not to mention its white sandy beaches (they are often named among the best beaches in the world). This whole coast is popular with divers because of its kelp forests and underwater caves.

There are many secluded coves and bays to the north of Binalong Bay within the Bay of Fires Conservation Area that are ideal for camping, fishing, swimming or just lazing around and taking in the eye-pleasing coastal vistas. Please note, facilities are very basic - you will need to carry your own food and water. Many campsites are sheltered, being popular with fishermen, photographers and birdwatchers. At Bay of Fires you can expect to experience grey kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, echidnas and possums plus many sea and forest birds.r the conservation of Tasmania s coastal heathlands and dry sclerophyll communities or plants. Heath is found on poorer soils, such as those here, which result from weathered granite and wind blown sand.

St Columba Falls

St Columba Falls, the largest waterfall in Tasmania's north-east, is 39 km east via Pyengana. Beyond the falls is an amazing forest of huge 'Man Ferns' (Dicksonia antartica). Here the track crosses a little creek where the rocks and logs are completely covered in mosses and little ferns. Bsides St Columba Falls, the small village of Pyengana is known for its quirky cheese factory.

Ben Lomond National Park

The magnificent mountain of Ben Lomond with its imposing and precipitous cliffs is visible over much of the northern midlands of Tasmania. The plateau is roughly 14 kilometres in length, 6 kilometres wide and is in excess of 1300 metres in height. A summit on the plateau named Legges Tor is the second highest point in Tasmania (1572 metres).

Ben Lomond is the main focus of downhill skiing in Tasmania. The skifield on Ben Lomond is Tasmania's only downhill skiing area which offers some of the facilities expected of a contemporary skifield.

Blue Tier Reserve

The Blue Tier Reserve is an exposed plateau with a rich mining and natural heritage. What makes the Blue Tier Forest Reserve so interesting is its long history in mining and forestry operations. The first Europeans came to this area after some miners who were working in the Mathinna goldfields discovered some rich tin deposits in some of the creeks in this area. The Blue Tier area also has a history in forestry operation. From 1945 to 1952 two sawmills were in operation with one run by a French family who milled celery top pine; while the Nichols mill focused on myrtle. There is a range of walks from a short 400m circuit, which is wheelchair friendly, to a 10.5km walk one-way to Weldborough for the more adventurous.

Fair Lee

Standing on the hill south of the main beach area in St Helens, Fair Lea was built in 1897. The retaining wall across the front was built from bricks which had been in the tower of the Anchor Tin Smelters at the site of Queechy today. This house was originally known as The Peach Trees and was a favourite picnic spot. In 1915 the name Fair Lea was given to this fine house. It is not open to the public.

Georges Bay

Georges Bay, on the shores of which St Helens stands, has 50 km of shoreline. The beaches around Georges Bay are ideal from swimming and surfing. The beaches on the southern side stretch from St Helens to St Helens Point.

By the 1830s Georges Bay was being used by whalers and sealers. Not surprisingly the settlement which grew up on the shore became known as Georges Bay and the local Aborigines became known as the Georges Bay tribe. Today, the bay is well used for recreational purposes. It is a very popular spot for boating and fishing, and there are plenty of sheltered coves and bays where families can swim and children play in its waters. The ocean beaches of St Helens Point are popular with surfers.

St Helens Point

The St Helens Point Conservation Area is an extensive area of low sand dunes and ocean beach, a short drive from the town of St Helens. St Helens Point is popular for surfing, fishing, beach walks, boating, bird-watching and camping.

Extensive sand dunes are a feature of the St Helens Point Conservation Area (1066 ha). In the past, the introduced marram grass Ammophila arenaria has been used to help stabilise eroding dunes. Where it occurs, the native grass Spinifex hirsutus also plays an important role. Its sand-binding ability prevents sand from moving inland and allows more complex plant communities to develop. The sand dunes can be damaged by both foot and vehicular traffic. This can lead to 'blowouts' and damage to the sensitive beach environment. For this reason vehicular use is restricted to an area set aside at Peron Dunes. Toilets with wheelchair access are available.

The signposted road to the southern section of St Helens Point turns off the A3 just 6 km just south of St Helens. To access the northern section drive south of St Helens to Parkside, turn left and continue on for 11 km to St Helens Point.

St Helens Point Road runs along the rear of a series of protected usually calm pockets of sand spread along the shore between Blanche Point beach and the boat ramp at Burns Bay. The unpatrolled beach at Blanche Point is a 50 m long strip of high tide sand bordered and fronted by granite rocks and boulders. The beach at Burns Bay occupies a 100 m long curving embayment, with small rocky points to either end, and a few rocks off the beach.

Dora Point

Dora Point beach is located at the western side of the entrance to Georges Bay within Humbug Point Nature Recreation Area. Strong tidal currents flow through the entrance and maintain a deep tidal channel and extensive ebb tidal delta, which extends a few hundred metres seaward of the beach. The beach is 250 m long and faces east across the tidal shoals and deeper channel towards St Helens Point. It is is accessible by vehicle with the camping area located 500 m south of the beach just inside the bay.

Skeleton Bay

Humbug Point Nature Recreation Area extends for 5 km south of Binalong Bay to Humbug Point, at the head of Georges Bay. It incorporates 5km of rocky shoreline and several kilometres of the cal;m shoreline of Georges Bay. There is vehicle access to Skeleton Bay, Skeleton Rock, Grants Point and Little Elephant in the north and Dora Point in the south at the entrance to the bay. Camping areas are located at Grants and Dora Points.

Maurouard Beach

Maurouard Beach (also known as Perons and Perrins Beach) commences on the southern side of the rocky point and curves to the southeast, then south in lee of St Helens Island for 8.5 km to the beginning of a 2 km long section of rocky shore. The beach is well exposed to southerly waves, which average about 1.5 m and maintain a well developed 100 m wide transverse to rhythmic bar and beach system, with at times up to 30 rips forming along the beach, including a permanent rip against the southern rocks. The bars and rips can produce some good breaks the length of the beach.

The entire beach is backed by the Peron Dunes, a 500 m wide zone of transgressive dunes, which become more destablised to the north and reach 20 m in height. The dunes are vegetated with marram grass resulting in peaky vegetated dune topography, an artifact of the exotic grass. The St Helens Point Road backs the northern half of the dunes, with beach access on foot across the dunes, together with a northern car park on the boundary point. A series of discontinuous wetlands backs the southern half of the dunes including Moriarty, Windmill and Jocks lagoons, none of which connect with the sea.

Beer Barrel Beach

Beer Barrel Beach consists of two parts. The northern section is a 100 m exposed, southeast-facing, low gradient beach bordered by the rocky shore of the point to the north and a 50 m wide rocky point to the south. It receives waves averaging about 1.5 m which break across a 50-100 m wide rock-studded surf zone, with a permanent rip flowing out against the southern rocks. The main beach is 300 m long and includes a 50 m long pocket of sand at the western end. It extends from the dividing point to a 400 m wide 20 m high headland. It also has rocks in the inner surf zone with strong rips forming to each end. Both beaches are backed by a small grassy foredune then vegetated slopes rising to 40 m. There is a car park on the slopes behind the central headland with easy access to both beaches. There is surf amongst the rocks with best conditions during northerly winds. The point camping area is located 500 m north of the beach.

Trail of the Tin Dragon

Spanning the rugged North-East from Launceston to St Helens, the Trail of the Tin Dragon winds its way through stunning scenery and historic townships. The Trail tells the story of tin mining in the North East of Tasmania, focusing on the European and Chinese miners who sought their fortune and risked all for this most remarkable metal.

The Trail of the Tin Dragon is the untold story of the North East of Tasmania. It is a Chinese story. It is a story of Tin mining, of boom and bust, flood and drought, riches and poverty, hope and despair. It is also a story of racial hatred and racial harmony; a story of human transience and the power of nature. The trails begins at Launceston, and passes through Branxholm, Derby, Moorina, Pyengana and St Helens.

Brief history of St Helens

The first European to explore the St Helens area was Captain Tobias Furneaux who sailed up the coast in 1773. He named the southern point of Georges Bay, St Helens Point. By the 1830s Georges Bay was being used by whalers and sealers. Not surprisingly the settlement which grew up on the shore became known as Georges Bay and the local Aborigines became known as the Georges Bay tribe.

The first official land grant was provided in 1830 and in 1835 the small village was renamed St Helens. It would have continued to be an inconsequential port had not tin been discovered at Blue Tier in 1874. Suddenly the port, and the routes to the tin mines, were awash with mines. Over 1000 Chinese moved through the port. From 1874 until the turn of the century the tin mines prospered.

When the mines closed the miners moved to the coast and many of them settled in St Helens. Slowly the port changed so that today it has a major fishing fleet which is supported by boat building, ships chandlery and other ancillary activities. In recent times tourism, driven by fishing and the town's mild climate, has become important.

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