St Marys, Tasmania
A small town that is a centre for dairying, pastoral, timber getting and coal mining in the nearby St. Nicholas Range. St. Marys is surrounded by hills, trees and majestic lookouts with fantastic views of the coast below. It sits in a valley between the grandeur of the Douglas Apsley National Park and the visual signpost of St. Patricks Head.
Historic buildings in and around the town include St Marys include St. Marys Hotel (1916); Cullenswood (1845); Killymoon (10 km west, 1843-48); Harefield (4 km south, c.1856).
Where Is it?: Nestled beneath the impressive rocky outcrop, St Patricks Head (694 metres), St Marys is 216 km north-east of Hobart, 130 km east of Launceston at the junction of the Tasman and Esk Highways.
Christ Church is a strange little church standing in the middle of fields of Cullenswood, a few kilometres to the west of St Marys. The church was built in 1847 and was connected with the large property, 'Cullenswood', which was established in the late 1820s by Robert Vincent Legge who arrived in Van Diemens Land in 1827. The main residence, 'Cullenswood' was built in 1845 and is located on Cornwall Road off the Esk Main Road. It is a two storey rubblestone Georgian building with a columned verandah and iron hipped roof. It is not open for inspection.
St Marys Pass
St Marys is reached from the coast by crossing the mountains via either St Marys Pass or Elephant Pass. Both roads wind through spectacular forested country. St Marys is the steeper of the two, with quite tight corners which hug an almost cliff-like hillside pretty much all the way down. At the top of St Marys Pass a parking area has been provided and a short 10 minute walk takes you through the forest to a viewing platform. From here you can appreciate the beauty of the falls and surrounding forest in the St Marys Pass State Reserve. The open forest, with a variety of understorey trees and shrubs, provides a habitat for a number of animals.
St Marys Pass was surveyed in 1841 and built by convict labour between 1843 and 1846. 300 convicts lived at Grassy Bottom and another 150 at Falmouth, simultaneously building up from the Fingal Valley and up from the coast.
Elephant - the southern pass - is relatively gentle with larger radius corners. That, and the fact it carries less traffic, makes it a quicker run. Named for an the elephant-shaped peak visible from the bottom of the pass, Elephant Pass has a special reward for those who travel her. At the top is Mt Elephant Pancake Barn, a popular place to stop for lunch or morning tea that is nearly always busy. The pass takes its name from a mountain near the pass which is vaguely shaped linke and elephant.
St Patricks Head
The challenging climb to the top of the cone shaped St Patricks Head is rewarded by stunning forest and coastal views. It is a not an easy walk (there are where metal cables and ladders are used to help the climber) but the view is spectacular and well worth the effort. A more accessible vantage point is South Sister Peak. The coast, the valley and the Mathinna Plains are just a few landmarks that can be seen from South Sister.
St.Patricks Head is one of the main attractions of the Fingal Valley. It was named from the sea by Captain Tobias Furneaux on St Patricks Day , 17 March,1773, 30 years before European settlement of Van Diemans Land, as he sailed past in the Adventure on his way to New Zealand after having been separated from Lieut. James Cook. Access to the walking track is from a well signposted rioad off the main road between Conara and St Marys. Walk duration: 2 3 hours.
South Sister Peak
The South Sister peak is a local icon, popular tourist destination, and recreation area. The South Sister and surrounding forests are unique having enormous biodiversity. There are many threatened species (both flora and fauna) which have been identified in the area.
To visit South Sister, take the German Town Road and turn left at the South Sister signpost. This is an easier lookout as the main vantage point is only a 10-15 minute walk from the car park. Climbing to the top of the summit is popular with most tourists however there are many walks over the South (and North) sisters. It is also a favourite place for rock climbers with many climbs described in various books. South Sister is also a great place for horse riding, bird watching or just getting away from it all.
Douglas-Apsley National Park
An inland reserve that lies between Bicheno and St Marys, Douglas-Apsley National Park (32 km south) encompasses three river catchments (Douglas, Denison and Apsley), gorges, cascades, rocky forested hills and a heath plateau. Its points of interest include spectacular dolerite boulders and rugged hills, historically explored and mined coal measures, sweeping coastal vistas, varied bushwalks, brilliant wildflowers, forest floor native orchids, waterfalls, swimming holes, and abundant birds and wildlife.
German Town Forest Reserve
German Town Forest Reserve is a reservoir situated between St Marys Pass State Reserve and Black Tommys Hill. The Reserve is 12.7 miles from St Helens, near Falmouth, north of St Marys. Whether you re baitcasting, spinning or fly fishing your chances of getting a bite here are good. So grab your favorite fly fishing rod and reel, and head out to German Town Forest Reserve.
The name of the reserve is the only reminder of one of the early settlements created by Tasmania's first free settlers, soon after the transportation of British convicts to Van Diemen's Land ceased, and the colony was re-named Tasmania. As a means of breaking with the convict past, Van Diemen's land was re-named Tasmania. Between 1855 and 1872 several ships mostly from the port of Hamburg brought about 2000 immigrants from Germany to Tasmania.