Saint Helens Things to Do Tips by tiabunna
Saint Helens Things to Do: 20 reviews and 42 photos
Sign and scrub in the coastal protection area
Photo 1 Sign and scrub in the coastal protection area
Photo 2 Dunes in the coastal protection area
Photo 3 Dunes in the ‘Motorised Recreation Area’
Photo 4 Four flats – anyone got a tyre pump?
Photo 5 Sign designating uses of the area.
The southern bank of George’s Bay is a long sand spit, known as St Helen’s Point. It’s a pleasant drive with substantial sand dunes to the right once you pass Stieglitz. Back in the early 1800s, the French explorer Baudin named these dunes the Peron Dunes after his second in charge. The dunes now have been designated for various purposes: a cultural protection zone, a motorised recreation zone, and a coastal protection area.
Even as a motoring enthusiast and 4WD owner, I’d have to say that I was quite uncomfortable that a section of this lovely area has been turned into an adventure playground for, it seemed, the more gung-ho fringe of the 4WD community. There were tracks in all directions and large bare areas of sand. Sometimes you have to laugh though. A sign advised would-be 4WD adventurers to lower their tyre pressures on the sand – when we arrived, the owner of a 4WD with four very flat tyres asked if we could assist him with a pump, telling some story about how his had broken (we didn’t see one and I suspect he had deflated his tyres without thinking). Ooops! Maybe the sign also should have said ‘think first’!
Just a little further on, the coastal protection area was a real contrast. The track passed a sign about protected birds and through a belt of ti-tree scrub to the dunes which looked pristine with their broken cover of grasses and other vegetation. I took the walkway through and went to the beach, where I tested the water and confirmed that swimming was not on the agenda!
Directions: Head south from St Helens, then follow the shore of George's Bay around to the east.
Old jetty, George's Bay
Photo 1 Old jetty, George’s Bay
Photo 2 St Helens fishing fleet
Photo 3 St Helens marina
Photo 4 Ocean mouth, George’s Bay..
What a marvellously named bay! George’s Bay is the pleasant inlet on which St Helens is built, with outlying ‘suburbs’ such as Steiglitz on the southern bank. Much of the shores are set aside as recreation and nature reserves and apparently it is used extensively for water sports in the warmer months.
When we visited we saw little happening, but the fishing fleet (Tasmania’s largest) and the small marina were very visible at St Helens. Otherwise, we just found it a pleasant place to poke around and to take photographs, because it is photogenic.
“Village Store & More”
Photo 1 St Helens “Village Store & More”
Photo 2 St Helens Anglican Church, dating from 1881
Photo 3 One of the two supermarkets (the other is larger)
Photo 4 The pre-Federation Post Office, still marked “Post and Telegraph”.
When people say this part of the world is unspoiled, the key issue is that it’s uncrowded. Contrast this with the Gold Coast or any of the world’s “destination’ beach areas: St Helens is the largest town on the whole east coast of Tasmania and, even so, has a population of only about 1200! Launceston is the nearest city and is 150km by road to the west.
We used St Helens purely as a base for a few days and didn’t pursue whatever social activities may be available. It’s the kind of friendly country town where you have a chat to people you meet. During our chat, the newsagent told me that, during our stay, there was a jazz event at the Doherty St Helens Resort (a large new upmarket hotel) on the edge of the town: that appealed, but sightseeing was a higher priority! As a generalisation, I think it’s fair to say that the town itself makes a great base, but the surrounding area provides the justification to stay a while.
There are supermarkets, coffee shops and pubs: pretty much all that most visitors are likely to need. Importantly for travellers, particularly the VT-addicted variety, there is a public internet cafe adjacent to the library and across from the newsagent.
Beach, Bay of Fires, looking south
Photo 1 Beach, Bay of Fires, looking south
Photo 2 Some of the fine white sand
Photo 3 A quiet little rock pool on the Bay of Fires
Photo 4 Looking north on the Bay of Fires.
To quote from the UK “Times on Line” and the story on the Lonely Planet ratings:
#1 BAY OF FIRES Tasmania. They say: “White beaches of hourglass-fine sand, Bombay Sapphire sea, an azure sky - and nobody. This is the secret edge of Tasmania, laid out like a pirate’s treasure map of perfect beach after sheltered cove, all fringed with forest. It’s not long since the Bay of Fires came to international attention, and the crowds are bound to flock. Now is the time to visit.”
I doubt my prose would be quite as floral, but I’d certainly echo the general sentiment. The beaches here are truly superb. You will find them just to the north of St Helens. Now, are they the world’s best beaches? Much as they’re delightful; the sand is fine and white; the water, the little rocky outcrops and backing hills all very colourful; I hate to say it but this is no place to sunbathe or swim during the winter! So let’s compromise and say these could well be the world’s best beaches in the warmer months and they’re very scenic for the rest of the year!
From Binalong Bay (previous tip), return about 2.5km toward St Helens, then turn right on Garden Road (C848) alongside the Bay of Fires itself: you can travel for about 10km to ‘The Gardens’. The Bay consists of a series of beaches, interrupted by little granite outcrops with spectacular orange lichen. Most of the area is National Park, with some basic camping areas (several with no facilities) and just a few isolated buildings clustered on ‘concessional allotments’ dating from before the creation of the National Park. The road is sealed and it’s a lovely drive, not to mention a delight for any photographers.
Another unsealed road slightly inland will take you to Eddystone Point and adjacent Anson Bay, at the northern end of the Bay of Fires. As we were not permitted to take our hire car on unsealed roads and time was limited, we have left this for ‘next time’.
Beautiful Binalong Bay
Photos 1-3 Scenes at Binalong Bay
Photo 4 The statuesque welcoming statue.
To reach the little beachside village of Binalong Bay, head out of St Helens on the C850. The trip is only about ten or eleven km, but this places you at the southern end of the Bay of Fires. There are a few limited facilities here, some very scenic rock outcrops, some holiday houses and a superb beach. From memory there also was a small store, but your shopping options would be greater in St Helens. This is just a very pleasant little spot and with some sheltered rockpools for any tinies to play in. Don’t miss the welcoming statue of the statuesque young lady on the town signpost.
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