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St Helens - Tassy Game Fishing Capital
st helens fishThe north eastern area of Tasmania has a certain romance that not many other places in Australia can boast. The natural beauty here is accompanied with a rich heritage that has produced many exciting and intriguing cultures. The best way to discover this wondrous beauty is to take a drive through the countryside where you can absorb the rich soils and majestic skies, sunrises and sunsets. Vineyards are met with luscious farmlands, that are bordered by tall green forests and a coastline of deep, blue sea, picturesque beaches and red rocky headlands. Quaint towns like St Helens offer little abodes to rest your traveled selves and its location right by the sea makes it the idea place for a romantic holiday.

When it comes to small country towns, St Helens would have to be among the most beautiful. The residental population here is a mere 200 people, which surprisingly makes it the largest town on the north east coast. The best way to reach it is by traveling along the scenic coastal drive from Hobart (250 kilometres), or the 150 kilometre drive east from Launceston. St Helens was originally a fishing port and was established as a whaling base in the 19th Century. Today, the marine animals here are still what attracts the visitors. Across the sand bar the waters are rife with gamefish such as Albacore Tuna and Yellowfin Tuna, making this town the game fishing capital of Tasmania. It is for this reason that it hosts the 'St Helens Classic', a deep sea fishing competition that draws over 100 boats every March. In St Helens, 'fishing' is almost always used in the same sentence as 'tourism', because this is what the region is essentially most famous for. There really is everything here, when it comes to marine life; a stunning reef, coastal or deep sea fishing and perfect swimming opportunities if you want to brave the cold. If you would rather enjoy the fruits of the ocean instead of catching it yourself then sit back in one of the restaurants and enjoy some of the freshest seafood around.

The town was originally built on the shores of St Georges Bay, which is sheltered by the long headland of St Helens Point. This headlland is largely a public conservation area and is popular for bush walkers and nature seekers. Journey south of town and you will come across a stunning coastal reserve where high sand dunes are bordered with thick wooded forests on one side and a magnificent white beach on the other. The pure white sands here look unouched and offer the perfect walking ground for a romantic stroll along the water's edge. A little further along you will find Diana's Basin, which is home to amazing example of geological folds, the peak of which offer stunning views of the ocean.

Take a break from the coastal atmosphere of the town and head into the hinterland because it will do far from disappoint. At St Mary's, which is a 25 minute drive inland, there is a large rocky hill known as St Patricks Head which is extremely popular with hikers. The views that this peak offers are truly beautiful and will take your breath away from the moment you first view them. Be warned though, this peak's a tad difficult to climb, as some of it is rather steep and requires you to heave yourself up on chains. But the effort will be completely worth it as it will offer you something you will never forget.

Head back into the town of St Helens and prepare to take the journey north of the town. As you do, you will come across one of the most popular tourist regions in Tasmania, the Bay of Fires. The town of Binalong Bay, ten minutes drive north, is the gateway to the Bay, and is home to a pristine beach of its own. The Bay is also home to pure white sands, which have resulted from the large presence of granite in the ground, along with pristine aquamarine waters and large red boulders. The area attracts a lot of scuba divers because of the waters clarity and the large underwater caves that are waiting to be explored. Extensive kelp forests are another unique feature of this area and help contribute to the large array of marine life under the surface. As a result rock and surf fishing are very popular around the Bay also.

Journey just a little further north of this bay and you will enter the Mt William National Park, a place that will no doubt fascinate and delight. Filled to the brim with animals and birdlife, the park is a haven for marsupials including the Forester Kangaroo, the second largest marsupial in the world. The beautiful beaches of the park complement and contrast nicely with its rugged interior, where you can find the 216 metre high Mt William. Another spot to add to the itinerary is Eddystone Point, primarily because of its large granite lighthouse. The three houses at the station are the oldest surviving lighthouse quarters in Australia, and in the secluded bases close at hand there are numerous crayfish and abalone. Camping around here is no problem, with popular spots mostly nearStumpy's Bay in the north. Another one lies close to the Musselroe Bay township.

Whether it is a romantic getaway, a friendly fishing trip or just a an escape from the city, St Helens is the perfect place. Surrounded by hiills and pristine beaches, the warmth of both the climate and th locals, will ensure that your time here is an enjoyable one. The nearbv attractions are so close by that you will wonder why anyone would want to stay somewhere else. This is as good a place as any to spend a few delays relaxing and rejuvenating.

Christine Barton

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