St Marys - East Coast, Tasmania

St Marys is a small township nestled at the junction of the Tasman and Esk Highways on the East Coast of Tasmania just 10 kilometres (six miles) from the coast.

You can reach the town from the coast by crossing the mountains via St Marys Pass or Elephant Pass.

With a population of around 600 people the town offers a range of accommodation, a craft gallery, bakery, shops and supermarkets, and the St Marys Hotel, built in 1916, which dominates the town centre.

Nestled beneath the impressive rocky outcrop, St Patrick’s Head (694 metres/2,277 feet), St Marys is a 240 kilometre/149 mile drive north east of Hobart, via Swansea and Bicheno or 130 kilometres/80 miles east of Launceston.

The first European contact with the district occurred when Captain Tobias Furneaux sighted and named the 694 metre St Patrick's Head in 1773. The early settlement of Van Diemen's Land, which mostly occurred between Hobart and George Town, took little interest in the St Marys area.

It wasn't until the 1840s that a probation station, housing 300 convicts, was built at Grassy Bottom between the town and St Mary's Pass. They were assigned to build the road across the mountains to the east coast. This was done between 1843 and 1846.

The arrival of the railway in 1866 led to the town's increasing importance as a service centre. The Elephant Pass route was completed in 1888 and this resulted in goods moving across the mountains to the east coast settlements of Bicheno and Chain of Lagoons. In turn this resulted in a small increase in population as the town became a service centre for the surrounding dairy farms.

The railway line which was once so vital to the health of the town is now closed although the railway station still stands.

Things to see:

St Marys is close to many local attractions: you can try the challenging climb to the top of St Patrick’s Head, or the more accessible South Sister Peak, for stunning forest and coastal views, there are also spectacular views from Elephant Pass.

The Coalminers’ Heritage Wall and Heritage Walk at the tiny settlement of Cornwall is a monument to the miners who hand-tunnelled a coal mine beneath the Mt. Nicholas Range.

You can also visit nearby waterfalls, go fishing at Lake Leake or bushwalking in Douglas Apsley National Park.

St Patricks Head - Travel east from St Mary's and, as the road starts to rise, take the turn to the right up Irishtown Road. The road quickly becomes dirt. Follow the signs. It is a not an easy walk (there are places where metal cables and ladders are used to help the climber) but the view is spectacular and well worth the effort.

South Sister Peak - Take the German Town Road and turn left at the South Sister signpost. This is an easier lookout as the main vantagepoint is only a 10-15 minute walk from the car park.

Christ Church - A strange little church standing in the middle of field 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 Diemen's 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.

The weather on Tasmania’s East Coast is typically settled and warm, with an average maximum temperature of 22.5 degrees Celsius (72.5 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer and 10-15 degrees Celsius (50-75 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter

Help save the South Sister

The South Sister, near St Marys is a local icon, popular tourist destination, and recreation area for the locals BUT it is earmarked for logging. Many residents and past visitors to the area are very concerned that this will have devastating effects on the biodiversity of the area, the water supply of local residents (including St Marys), damage to eco-tourism and the local economy.

Save the South Sister website

Caravan & Camping at St Marys

The St Marys Recreation Ground now offers public toilet and shower facilities and a drop point for portable toilets.

Located between Gray and Harefield Roads the Recreation Ground provides ample parking for Caravans and Campervans and also permits camping.

Caravan & Camping