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St Helens - Pieces Of The Past

A tour through the northeast of Tasmania is an ever-changing palette of colour. Just as an example, think of a lavender farm in the flowering season; a surreal scene created by the curved rows of lavender bushes, bright against the deep blue-green of the surrounding hills, and overhead stretches an endless blue sky. Or consider Beer Barrel Beach at St Helens: the bright turquoise of the bay with the deeper blue of the open sea behind it, with the burnt-orange rocks and white sand lining the shoreline, and the blue-tinged green of the wind-worn foliage on the dune. A colourful and lively town in its own right, St Helens is a coastal resort town surrounded by inimitable coast and country. There is a caravan park in the town that accommodates campervans.

It's a great place to base your campervan. You will find campervan hire in Launceston, which is located only 150 kilometres from St Helens. St Helens is the largest town on the northeast coast. It is a sun-drenched settlement that echoes the charm and character of a Cornish fishing village. Perched upon the shining waters of Georges Bay, St Helens is sheltered by the long headland of St Helens Point. St Helens is known as the game fishing capital of Tasmania and most of the town is dependent on fishing as an income. This is a large pull factor for tourists in the region and in March each year the town population swells with visitors partaking in the St Helens Game Fishing Classic.

If fishing doesn't excite you, you can delve into the history behind the town. The town started life as a whaling port. When tin was discovered in the surrounding area in the 1870s, St Helens became the shipping port for the mines. The tin industry and the Chinese tin miners are commemorated by the Trail of the Tin Dragon; learn more about this by visiting St Helens History Room and Visitor Information Centre. Just west of the town is the Pyengana Dairy, with its Holy Cow Café, where fresh milk and cheese is always on the menu.

Fishermen have the pleasure of fishing from one of the world's most spectacular coastlines, with rugged rock formations and golden sandy beaches lying side by side. Driving north from the town in your campervan, within fifteen minutes you will be in Binalong Bay, a tiny village built on a serene and calm bay that is a great spot for a relaxing day in the sun. You have to visit the Eddystone Point Lighthouse, a striking pink granite tower. If you continue north you reach the Bay of Fires, which has been voted by a reputable travel magazine as having the second best beach in the world. Upon arriving there you can see why - white sand and blue water contrasts to the orange-hued granite boulders scattered on the beaches. The underwater attractions are just as impressive, with divers flocking to the bay to explore its underwater caves and kelp forests. Located behind the Bay of Fires are the Blue Tier Forest Reserve and the Mount William National Park, with a variety of walks that suit all levels of effort.

If you're a bushwalker or hiker then the area around St Helens will excite you to no end. There is the magnificent coastline to explore along with the lush forests and rolling hills of the hinterland. A 10 min drive south of the town, there is camping and great hiking at Diana's Basin and the views of the ocean here are stunning. At St Mary's, which lies about a 25 minute drive inland from St Helens, there is an impressive rocky hill known as St Patricks Head. Though it looks quite small, St Patricks Head can be quite challenging and in some sections there are chains to assist you on the way up. You will agree that the panoramic views from the top are a just reward for your efforts, including some impression stone pillars near the summit. After the climb, you will be in need of sustenance, so you might want to pop into the Purple Possum Wholefoods and Café, in the township of St Marys.

If you keep heading west of St Helens, you will eventually reach the Bridestowe Lavender Estate at Nabowla. The estate has both a café and a souvenir shop. The best time to visit is during December and January, when the lavender is flowering, but it is still worth visiting at any time of the year.

When you hire a campervan and go on a tour of the northeast of Tasmania you are stepping into another world, one where the everyday problems of your life simply melt away. It is hard to leave the laid back lifestyle and the stunning vistas. So why don't you give it a try? At the very least you will leave refreshed and re-invigorated, and you can always come again to this most colourful part of the world.

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