in the bay at St Helens
St Helens (including Georges Bay)
Largest town and holiday destination on
Tasmania's East Coast
St Helens is a substantial seaside town located
166 km (via Scottsdale) east of Launceston and
36 km north of St Marys. It is the largest town
on the Tasmanian East Coast. Its 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 22°C in February.
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
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
Things to see:
Local History Room
Located at 57 Cecilia Street (the main street
through town) the Local History Room is a rich
treasure trove of local memorabilia. As Peter
Burns, a co-curator of the History Room, told
ABC Radio: 'The main feature of the History Room
is the verbal introduction, when we moved into
the new building we thought we would do it with
a tape recorder but we lost that personal
contact with the tourist, so we have gone back
to the personal narrative. Everybody that helps
in the History Room is trained in the narrative,
and to communicate with the people who go
through the room.'
|'Fair Lea' at
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.
Only 11 km north east of St Helens, Binalong Bay
is a small holiday resort town noted for its
rock and surf fishing. The sands at Binalong Bay
are beautifully white.
Swimming, fishing and surfing
The beaches around Georges Bay are ideal from
swimming and surfing. The town is famous for its
crayfish, scallops, abalone and flounder. The
Scamander River is noted for its bream. The
beaches on the southern side stretch from St
Helens to St Helens Point. In entire bay has 50
km of shoreline. Such is the popularity of the
area that it is estimated the population
increases tenfold in summer.
Reserve near St Helens
South of St Helens
To the south of the town is a beautiful coastal
reserve with heavily timbered sand dunes and
beautiful clean beaches. The real appeal of St
Helens is that to the south of it is this
endless beautiful white beach with this
wonderful aquamarine waters and lovely walks
along the beach.
St Helens Point
Some years ago the University of Tasmania
published a small brochure titled 'St Helens
Point Walks'. It outlined two walks - one of
which was 2 1/2 hours long and the other 1 1/2
hours long. The walks started 9 km south of St
Helens (drive past Dianas Basin, cross Crockers
Arm Creek, turn left and park) and ran the
length of Maurouard Beach.
"Walking Instructions (approx. 2-2/12 hrs)
1. Start to walk northwards along the sands
from the seaward end of Dianas Basin. In some
places minor deviations are needed along the
coastal scrub to avoid outcrops of rock.
2. Onion Creek provides year-round fresh
3. Follow the coast northwards until several
large notices are reached which mark the
southward limit of dune-buggying. They are
opposite St Helens Island are about 2 km beyond
the last rocky outcrop on the beach. Here turn
inland on one of many tracks away from the sea.
4. Pass by the seasonally drying lagoons
behind the fore-dune and climb the second steep
slope. The top of the telecom mast visible over
the trees provides a useful guide to the general
5. From the second rise cross in a directly
westerly line to the northern edge of the
"Scenic Alternative Walk (approx 1-1/2 hrs)
The St Helens Point Road, which turns left
off the Tasman Highway some 3 km south of St
Helens town, passes through Steiglitz to Burns
Bay landing and provides access to car parks
near the Training Wall and to the general area
of the Point itself.
From here, several well-marked circuitous
routes are indicated giving tremendous views of
the fishing areas seawards, St Helens harbour
entrance and bar, St Helens Island and the huge
sweep of Maurouard Beach and Peron dunes towards
Dianas Basin and Scamander."