The Bay of Fires is a short drive from the town of St Helens on the North East coast of Tasmania.
The town of St Helens is known for its sheltered waters. It is a two and half hour drive from Launceston and three and half hours from Hobart. You can also take a longer but very scenic drive from Launceston via Scottsdale. It is a winding road but if you have time you will not be disappointed as the landscape is breathtaking.
The Great Eastern Drive to and from Hobart along the east coast is recommended for its stunning landscape and sensational beach coastal views.
Australian Domestic Airlines
Jetstar operates from all states to Hobart and Launceston.
Qantas operates from Australian capital cities to Hobart.
Virgin Australia operates from Australian cities to Hobart and Launceston.
Flight Centre offers very good itineraries and deals for travel to Tasmania.
All international airlines connections are on mainland Australia. Melbourne airport has its international and domestic terminals in same location. Flights from Melbourne are the shortest route to Tasmania when flying from the mainland.
The alternative – by car, ferry, coach
Spirit of Tasmania the car and passenger ferry that travels daily across the Tasman Sea from Melbourne – Devonport – Melbourne. The ferry is for vehicle, motor bike, and pedestrian passengers and sails day and night. For night sailing you can either sit up in chairs or book cabins, my recommendation is to book a cabin with beds and ensuite.
There is public transport travel to St Helens from Launceston – offered daily with – Calows Coaches. Check the website with the link below for full details.
Calow’s Coaches also operate from St Helens to Bicheno and to Launceston from St Helens. The Calow’s service offers a connection to Hobart on the St Helens – Launceston run. See links for website with schedule information.
If you take the bus to St Helens you can arrange to hire a car in St Helens with local company Howes. Keep in mind that you will have to leave it in St Helens on your departure.
Bay of Fires
The Bay of Fires are just a short drive out to the coast from St Helens. The little seaside village of Binalong Bay is at the southern end of the Bay of Fires beaches. Binalong Bay and Skeleton Bay are are first in the group of spectacular bays with distinctive white quartz sand beaches.
There are many beautiful holiday homes in this area available for short term rental.
The Binalong Bay boat ramp has recently been overhauled for local recreational fishing. Near by at a private mooring you will find the Bay of Fires Eco Tours boat moored here for daily tours.
Everywhere you go in the Bay of Fires you will see rocks and boulders covered with the spectacular orange red lichen that is a popular drawcard for photographers throughout the world.
Bay of Fires Observation Deck – make sure you drive past the first beach in Binalong Bay, then drive on past the little park on the left with barbecue facilities and a tennis court, just a few metres further is a car parking area for the Observation Deck for easy of viewing the remainder of the Bay of Fires. Its an ideal location for photographing the majestic water washed stone and rock formations.
There are many walking tracks, to find them you can drive to the end of the Main Road at Binalong Bay to a gravel road. At the parking area roundabout there are signs to lead you to several walks.
Start at the southern end of Skeleton Bay to Skeleton Rock then on to Grants Point and for serious walkers further on to Dora Point. A shorter less strenuous walk is just before the Binalong Bay beach at Grants Lagoon. Most of these places are ideal for walking, swimming, fishing, sailing and waterskiing and kayaking.
Book a tour on Paul Frater’s Botanical and Scenic walks. 03 6372 5186 (Member of Break O’Day Regional Tourism Association).
Lichen Restaurant – 0363 768086 (Bookings Recommended) is a restaurant facing the Binalong Bay beach. It is open from breakfast to dinner every day in the summer and Tuesday to Sunday in the autumn and winter months. The setting is stunning, where it is often possible to catch sight of dolphins.
More about St Helens
St Helens is the capital of game fishing in Tasmania. Oysters from here are highly regarded, along with mussels, clams, abalone and southern rock lobster. In the 19th century it was a whaling base and when tin was discovered in the surrounding area it became a shipping port for the mines.
St Helens has one of the best climates in Tasmania, mild temperate and has four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and sunny and winters are cool to mild. The north east coast’s winter temperatures are warmer than most parts of Tasmania.
St Helens is a blend of old and new. A rare town, no traffic lights, no roundabouts and all parking is free. St Helens has free wifi situated at its wharf. The town has two IGA stores, a health food shop, a gourmet shop and a well stocked newsagent. There are several banks and real estate agents. There is no shortage of clothing and sporting boutiques. The main street boasts two bakeries, a chocolate and sweet shop, cafes, restaurants, take-away food and a coffee bar. Then there are specialist fishing tackle shops, a laundrette, even a jewellery store specialising in handmade jewellery from its jeweller owner. The tourism Information centre has a History Room and is located near the St Helens Library in the main street.
A large hardware store is also in the main street of St Helens. Though a small town it has a dental practice, a medical centre, a hospital and aged care facilities. There are two fuel garages and a BWS liquor store. A hotel in town also has a drive-in bottle shop. Along with hairdressers and beauty therapists the town also boasts a very popular antique shop, a framer, two tile shops, a furniture shop and two veterinary clinics.
On Saturday mornings a market is held in either the Portland Hall in the main street of St Helens or in summer weather it is in the car park outside the tourism Information Centre. The market is where locals come to sell their homemade produce, vegetables, plants and crafts.
St Helens has a well stocked bookshop where you can buy new and secondhand books. The bookshop also serves coffee and snacks. This bookshop is different in that it also specialises in very rare collectable books and through the owner’s association with an aboriginal community on the mainland, sells selected aboriginal artefacts.
If a game of golf is on your recreation list you can play golf at the St Helens Golf Club and St Helens has a Bowls Club.
For the family or amateur putter there is a 9 hole – par 3, Chip ‘n’ Putt golf course at the Cerise Brook Orchard. A sign is at the turn off to the left before you enter the main street of St Helens from the south. Christine the co owner is an experienced barista and even if you do not want to play a game of golf you can join the locals who often drive out for a cup of coffee and cake made from the orchard’s fruit.
Contact the boat and fishing charter companies for a day of fishing or diving and there are special diving training courses available.
Drive toward Scottsdale which is north out of St Helens.
Visit the Pyengana Cheese factory and its Holy Cow Cafe for cheese tastings. This cafe is licensed and I can recommend the ice cream here. Whilst visiting the Pyengana district don’t miss the nearby St Columba Falls for its breathtaking rainforest environment and waterfall.
A good pub meal is available at the Pig in the Paddock hotel in the same area.
Also along the road northbound there is a unique ‘Shop in the Bush’ known for its huge collection of books, antiques, bric a brac and Tasmanian souvenirs.It is signposted and on the left of the highway.
Take a drive up to the mountain area known as The Blue Tier and choose from its several marked and timed walking tracks. The spectacular plateau offers sensational views on a clear day.