Why we did the scenic route to St. Mary's and Fingal via the Elephant Pass from Bicheno, was so we could stop at the Mount Elephant Pancake Barn. We had heard reports about it, and wanted to try one for ourselves. We were not disappointed, large & delicious, yes, we will return again one day!
The road was built by convicts in the mid 1800s and leads over the elephant toward Bicheno with magnificent views of the coastline.
SO THEY SAY.......It is the outline of an elephant lying down with his trunk stretched out. Situated just too the right of St.Patricks Head. You will have to use your imagination big time!!
There is not a lot at either of these towns.....St Marys is a mountain town with timber cottages, and a gallery featuring Tasmanian products and the St. Mary's Hotel does meals.
Near Fingal, we went to the Evercreech Forest Reserve, with the famous White Knights (white gums), this is worth doing, and the nearby, Mathinna Falls has an amazing array of cascading waterfalls. Mathinna was once a thriving gold mining town.
Another Waterfall that is worth a stop and a look.
A short, 15 minute return walk from the car park to the viewing platform to see the spectacular tall waterfall plunging into the Cygnet River into a gorge.
It can get a little slippery on the dirt and rocky track descending towards the wooden platform so do take care!
Feeling enegetic? I wasn't! But if you are, there is a track leading to the Cygnet River in the Gorge.
There is a picnic shelter & Toilets at the car park.
St Columba Falls are the tallest falls in Tasmania
The waterfall is a lovely, multi tiered falls, that plunge about 90m down the side of Mt Victoria.
Much of the falls can be viewed from the road, but do the short 20-minute easy return walk as you pass through giant man and tree ferns.........they are magnificent!
For more detailed information, stop at the Scottsdale Visitor Information Centre at the Forest EcoCentre in Scottsdale.
Eddystone Point lighthouse is situated in the Mt William National Park 15 kilometres north of Ansons Bay on the easternmost point of Tasmania's north-east coast.
It is a circular stone tower made of locally quarried granite and stands 36 metres high.
Opened in 1889, it was originally lit by a kerosene lantern, now it is fully automatic and visible for 38 kms, and is no longer manned.
There are three light-keepers quarters on the station, also built from local granite. They form one of the earliest surviving group of original quarters within Tasmania.
This coastline was renowned for the number of shipwrecks during the early years of white settlement.
North of Ansons Bay has been the resting place for 30 vessels wrecked between 1846 and 1963.
After visiting Evercreech, head on another 16 kms to Mathinna Waterfalls. The falls consist of a four tier waterfall which cascades over a total drop of about 80 metres - a spectacular sight!
An easy 30min walk will take you to the base of the falls.
Access to this waterfall is from a mostly sealed road leading north from the township of Mathinna. The general area is in the northeastern forests of Tasmania
The Blue Lake is about 1hours drive from Scottsdale, about 17ks on the Gladstone road.
The lake is here because of the tin mining carried out in this area. Its a very pretty azure blue. Swimming is allowed, remember, its very deep. Its also big enough for water skiing.
You can camp here, and if you want, go fossicking for gems, quartz, topaz and amethyst are found.
This reserve is located in the Fingal Valley, and is signposted from the town of Fingal.
Here, you find the 'White Knights" THE TALLEST WHITE GUMTREES IN EXISTENCE.
..... more impressive and taller than the Big Trees in the Styx Valley.
A 20 minute loop walk takes you past the tall trees, into a grove of manferns and tall Blackwoods, before heading up the hill to get a birds-eye view over the White Knights. Interpretive signs tell you about the Tree's.
Make this Forest Reserve your stop for lunch or a barbecue at one of the peaceful streamside areas.
A 20 min loop will take you around the gum trees and a 45min loop will take you to the Evercreech falls. This is a pretty park with lots of lovely rainforest and Tree ferns.
The Bay of Fires is situated between Binalong Bay and Eddystone Point.
The entrance to the Bay of Fires - Binalong Bay, is 10 minutes from St. Helens.
The Beach here is white, with lovely green/blue water.
We stayed at St. Helen's but I would imagine it would be nice staying here, there was accommodation, a general store & cafe, all in this pretty, peaceful location. Plenty of fishing, (lagoon's & sea) and diving for the experienced!
The rocks are really pretty, with their red lichen against the white sand.
About a 45km drive from St. Helens.
St Helens, located in a pretty setting overlooking Georges Bay, is the largest town on the north-east coast, with a population of about 2,000, and is also known as 'THE GAME FISHING CAPITAL OF TASMANIA"
St Helens is a popular destination for fishing, and each March the St Helens Game Fishing Classic . It's also popular amongst divers for its extensive kelp forests and underwater caves.
We made St. Helen's a base and did some nice drives, went to Binalong Bay and the Bay of Fires, which extend to Eddystone Point. The Bay of Fires is a coast of white sandy beaches dotted with giant granite boulders. Then another drive to St. Mary's, the Pancake parlour, more waterfalls and gorgeous rainforest.
In St. Helens, take the one-hour return walk to St Helens Point where you will find the spectacular Peron Dunes and vast ocean beach.
Have a look at the Mural on the side of the building in St. Helens, depicting the forestry industry. Its located in the main street.
It was a good base for a few days, we enjoyed our time here.
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!
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.
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.
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’.
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.
The Bay of Fires has been voted the World's second most beautiful beach by the prestigious Condor Neste organisation in the UK. It has stunning white sand scenery. The Bay is about 20min drive from St. Helens.