St Marys

A small town that is a centre for dairying, pastoral, timber getting and coal mining in the nearby St. Nicholas Range. St. Marys is surrounded by hills, trees and majestic lookouts with fantastic views of the coast below. It sits in a valley between the grandeur of the Douglas Apsley National Park and the visual signpost of St. Patricks Head.

Where Is it?

Nestled beneath the impressive rocky outcrop, St Patricks Head (694 metres), St Marys is 216 km north-east of Hobart, 130 km east of Launceston at the junction of the Tasman and Esk Highways.

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Things To See And Do

Historic buildings in and around the town include St Marys include St. Marys Hotel (1916); ‘Cullenswood’ (1845); ‘Killymoon’ (10 km west, 1843-48); ‘Harefield’ (4 km south, c.1856).

Christ Church is a strange little church standing in the middle of fields of Cullenswood, a few kilometres to the west of St Marys. The church was built in 1847 and was connected with the large property, ‘Cullenswood’, which was established in the late 1820s by Robert Vincent Legge who arrived in Van Diemens Land in 1827. The main residence, ‘Cullenswood’, was built in 1845 and is located on Cornwall Road off the Esk Main Road. It is a two storey rubblestone Georgian building with a columned verandah and iron hipped roof. It is not open for inspection.

St Patricks Head

The challenging climb to the top of the cone shaped St Patricks Head is rewarded by stunning forest and coastal views. It is a not an easy walk (there are where metal cables and ladders are used to help the climber) but the view is spectacular and well worth the effort. A more accessible vantage point is South Sister Peak. The coast, the valley and the Mathinna Plains are just a few landmarks that can be seen from South Sister.
St.Patricks Head is one of the main attractions of the Fingal Valley. It was named from the sea by Captain Tobias Furneaux on St Patricks Day , 17 March,1773, 30 years before European settlement of Van Diemans Land, as he sailed past in the “Adventure” on his way to New Zealand after having been separated from Lieut. James Cook.
Access to the walking track is from a well signposted rioad off the main road between Conara and St Marys. Walk duration: 2 – 3 hours.

St Marys Pass

St Marys is reached from the coast by crossing the mountains via either St Marys Pass or Elephant Pass. Both roads wind through spectacular forested country. St Marys is the steeper of the two, with quite tight corners which hug an almost cliff-like hillside pretty much all the way down. At the top of St Marys Pass a parking area has been provided and a short 10 minute walk takes you through the forest to a viewing platform. From here you can appreciate the beauty of the falls and surrounding forest in the St Marys Pass State Reserve. The open forest, with a variety of understorey trees and shrubs, provides a habitat for a number of animals.
St Marys Pass was surveyed in 1841 and built by convict labour between 1843 and 1846. 300 convicts lived at Grassy Bottom and another 150 at Falmouth, simultaneously building up from the Fingal Valley and up from the coast.

Elephant Pass

Elephant, the southern pass, is relatively gentle with larger radius corners. That, and the fact it carries less traffic, makes it a quicker run. Named for an the elephant-shaped peak visible from the bottom of the pass, Elephant Pass has a special reward for those who travel her. At the top is Mt Elephant Pancake Barn, a popular place to stop for lunch or morning tea that is nearly always busy.

Surrounding Area

Cornwall Coalminers' Heritage Wall

The Coalminers’ Heritage Wall and Heritage Walk at the tiny coal mining settlement of Cornwall is a monument to the miners who hand-tunnelled a coal mine beneath the Mount Nicholas Range. Coal has been mined in various areas of Tasmania from the earliest days of European settlement, with major deposits of black coal being discovered in the Fingal Valley in 1863. The completion of the railway line to St Marys in 1886 enabled the establishment of large scale coal mining in the Fingal Valley and this area has provided the majority of Tasmania’s coal since this time.
Competition from oil caused a decline in the coal mining industry until more efficient mining and transport methods introduced in the mid-1960s allowed steaming coal to become competitive. The Cornwall Coal Company is the only supplier of coal mined in Tasmania. The company currently mines black coal from underground and open cut mines near St Marys, from where the product is transported to a washery at Duncan Siding near Fingal, from the Duncan Colliery at Fingal, and from Kimbolton in southeast Tasmania.

Evercreech Forest Reserve

Evercreech Forest Reserve (23 km north) is home to the tallest White Gums in the world. They are known as ‘White Knights’ because they grow to a height of 90 metres. The reserve has many short bushland walks through the forest including a loop past the “White Knights” and to Evercreech Falls. Apart from these spectacular trees, large ferns and mountain streams abound, many flowing dramatically over falls deep in the forest.

Douglas-Apsley National Park

An inland reserve that lies between Bicheno and St Marys, Douglas-Apsley National Park (32 km south) encompasses three river catchments (Douglas, Denison and Apsley), gorges, cascades, rocky forested hills and a heath plateau. Its points of interest include spectacular dolerite boulders and rugged hills, historically explored and mined coal measures, sweeping coastal vistas, varied bushwalks, brilliant wildflowers, forest floor native orchids, waterfalls, swimming holes, and abundant birds and wildlife.

South Sister

The South Sister peak is a local icon, popular tourist destination, and recreation area. The South Sister and surrounding forests are unique having enormous biodiversity. There are many threatened species (both flora and fauna) which have been identified in the area.
To visit South Sister, take the German Town Road and turn left at the South Sister signpost. This is an easier lookout as the main vantage point is only a 10-15 minute walk from the car park. Climbing to the top of the summit is popular with most tourists however there are many walks over the South (and North) sisters. It is also a favourite place for rock climbers with many climbs described in various books. South Sister is also a great place for horse riding, bird watching or just getting away from it all.

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