After spending a very short 24 hours in Coles Bay my husband Jarryd & I found ourselves once again in the car driving towards our next destination on our 8 day self drive tour of Tasmania.
The coastal drive to St Helens gave us not only more spectacular views but also gave us another opportunity for a quick stop along the way. This time however it was for beer from Ironhouse Brewery which is located just off the Tasman Highway, right on that amazing east coast. After sampling some of the beer which is made on site, we purchased a mixed 6 pack of our favourites and continued on our way.
I think my favourite thing about our self drive trip was just how easy it was to make these quick stops whenever we came across something that looked just that little bit interesting. It gave us more freedom and variety that we would not have got any other way.
After arriving at our accommodation we decided that it would be nice to spend sunset at Binalong Bay, part of the very famous Bay of Fires. This tiny coastal town is around 20 minutes out of St Helens. At the end of the road, we found a car park, a large grassy area and a lookout. I was really surprised that we were the only people as far as we could see in the entire area of the Bay of Fires. We literally had the place to ourselves.
We began climbing around, exploring all the different areas and me working out where I was going to set up my camera for sunset. I had seen many photographs of the lonely tree (my favourite is by Larissa Dening) , and I just knew I wanted to have a go at shooting it myself.
When I found the area, I setup my camera and sat, patiently waiting and crossing my fingers for some colour to appear. If you follow me on Instagram you will know it is very rare for me to post a sunset shot, and there is a very simple reason for this. When I go out with my camera with intention to shoot the sunset, nothing at all ever eventuates. I get dull, boring, or cloudy, grey skies. However when I am on the bus home from work, with no ability to capture it at all, I seem to see the most amazing and colourful sunsets… Ah well, it is a game of numbers right? I will get a good one eventually!
This particular night did not do anything amazing, however it was kind enough to give me a few moments of some pink sky which I was very grateful for.
The next morning we were up early ready for a surprise trip I had organised for Jarryd. He is a keen fisherman and I couldn’t bring him to Tasmania without a little bit of fishing. Personally I do not enjoy fishing. At all. But I do like boats and the outdoors, so I tagged along as the ‘official photographer’ on his mission to catch a Black Bream.
If you do like fishing, St Helens is the place to go, and without a doubt we will be back (I am pretty sure Jarryd is already making plans…). We actually headed about 20 km down the coast with our guide to Scamander which is a very popular spot for bream fishing (so they tell me). One thing I do like about these charter trips (I tagged along on another when we were in Florida), is that they give you a different perspective of the destination completely separate from what you see as a tourist. It is a very authentic experience.
When we mentioned that we had no solid plans for the afternoon, our guide told us of a few places just the other side of town that were well worth a visit. They involved a pub and a waterfall so naturally we decided to check out his suggestion.
Again heading out of town, this time inland, we arrived at Pyengana. The drive takes around 30 minutes and takes you through some incredible, rich agricultural land. The colour of the scenery was spectacular, and with the primary industry of the area being dairy, black and white cows were everywhere to be seen. And of course being spring, there was a field full of little ones!
We stopped for lunch at the Pub in the Paddock, as we had heard that a pig that drinks beer resided here, and well, that just sounded too interesting to pass up! We grabbed lunch in the little country pub and were greeted with warm hospitality and a cold beer. It was exactly what we needed after the big morning of fishing (or not fishing in my case). The pub’s interior is cosy and rustic with what has to be the most extensive collection of pig ornaments that I have ever seen! We met the real pigs outside, but did not share our drinks.
We continued on a little further to what I was most looking forward to, St Columba Falls. These falls are argued to be the highest in Tasmania with a 90 metre drop. In typical rainforest fashion, as soon as we stepped foot on the short path down into the falls it began to rain. We heard the falls long before we saw them, and even though that gave us an indication, it still did not prepare us for just how huge and powerful they were.
Standing on the lookout platform I was getting soaking wet and was sure I was not going to be able to get a shot without ruining my equipment and getting water all over my lens. Jarryd knows just how much I love waterfalls and taking photos of them, so with his encouragement we stayed, seeking shelter under a tree fern until the rain passed and the wind died down a little.
I managed to get a window of opportunity, still battling the elements and the spray from the giant falls. I am so glad we did stay so I could take photos as this is probably my favourite shot that I have taken so far!
After our adventure in Pyengana it was time to find somewhere for dinner. I was really wanting to sample some amazing Tasmanian produce and since we were on the water, we thought seafood sounded like the best option. There was a place down on the wharf we had driven past that looked ok and we decided to check it out. After quickly checking some reviews online we began to doubt the decision as they were very mixed with some being really quite negative. We however decided that we needed to try for ourselves. Still very hesitant we arrived and were seated and told they would bring us a menu. As we were waiting, we overheard the couple next to us complaining because of the time they had been waiting for their meal. Turns out their order had been lost. Everyone around us seemed awkward, like everyone was waiting for something.
After 15 minutes without our menu, we decided that it was not worth it and I googled ‘best food in St Helens’. Mohr & Smith was the top result so without further hesitation we left and went down the road. I am so very glad we did! The meal here was the best we had by far throughout our trip in Tassie. I started with locally brewed Tasmanian Moo Brew beer and Jarryd had a special brew Kentish Ale, which he rates as possibly the best beer he has ever drunk. Off to a good start!
Entre was the oysters I had been wanting ever since touching down, and they were so extremely fresh and delicious that I was instantly satisfied. For mains I had an Indonesian style pork belly with truffled potatoes, beans and the most amazing peanut sauce. Jarryd had the Sri Lankan Seafood Curry, again bursting with flavour and fresh seafood. If you are in St Helens, eat here. I wouldn’t even bother trying anywhere else.
Edit 2018: The first restaurant I mentioned here unsurprisingly has now closed down, unfortunately so has Mohr & Smith 🙁
After dinner, we were straight to bed because the following morning we had a big drive across the state to Cradle Mountain.
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