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 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.

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.' Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, $4 for adults and $2 for children.

Walking around St Helens
If you take the walking tour of St Helens the result is one of depression. The Bayside Inn, once an attractive hotel beside the bay, is now a modern style hotel motel with no character. Similarly the Uniting Church, once an interesting wooden building, has been replaced by a rather dreary construction. Even Fair Lea, which once had gracious grounds running down to the water has had two modern houses stuck in front of it. The owners insist that it is spelt Fair Lea where the local book spells it Fair Lea. St Helens may once have been an attractive town. Now it has become an important tourist destination. Like any typical holiday resort it sprawls.

Fair Lea
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.

Binalong Bay
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.

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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.

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 water.

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 direction.

5. From the second rise cross in a directly westerly line to the northern edge of the airport.

"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."

Visitor Information Centre
20 Cecilia St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1329

Anchor Wheel Motel
61 Tully St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1358
Rating: ***

Bayside Inn Motel/Hotel
2 Cecilia St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1466
Rating: ***

St Helens Hotel Motel
49 Cecilia St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1133
Rating: **

Annie's Place Bed & Breakfast
32 The Esplanade
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1329

Artnor Lodge Bed & Breakfast
71 Cecilia St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1234

Benson's Bed & Breakfast
Tasman Hwy Beaumaris
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6372 5587
Rating: ****

Cecilia House Bed & Breakfast
78 Cecilia St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1723
Rating: ****

Warrawee Bed & Breakfast
Tasman Hwy
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1987
Rating: ****

Wybaleena Bed & Breakfast
56 Tasman Hwy
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1611
Facsimile: (03) 6376 1611
Rating: ****

Cockle Cove Beachfront Serviced Apts
234 St Helens Point Rd
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 3036
Rating: ***

Corraleau Holiday Apts
14 Tasman Hwy
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1363
Rating: **

Halcyon Grove Apts
16-18 Halcyon St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1424
Rating: ****

Kellaraine Holiday Apts
72 Tully St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1169
Rating: ***

Queechy Cottages
2 Tasman Hwy
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1321
Rating: ***

Warrawee Cottage
Tasman Hwy
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1987
Rating: ***

Hillcrest Caravan Park
St Helens Point Rd
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 3298
Rating: ***

St Helens Caravan Park
Penelope St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1290
Rating: ****

Anchor Wheel Motel
61 Tully St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1358

Bayside Inn
2 Cecilia St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1466

Queechy Cottages
2 Tasman Hwy
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1321

St Helens Hotel/Motel
49 Cecilia St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1133

St Helens RSL Bistro
35 Quail St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1633

Tidal Water Restaurant
Tasman Hwy
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1100

Trimbolis Pizzas
1b Circassion St
St Helens TAS 7216
Telephone: (03) 6376 1429

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