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St Patricks Head

Home > Hobart > Day Trips | Health and Fitness | Nature | Outdoor | Walks
by Roz Glazebrook (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published March 4th 2019
A spectacular climb with great views
I didn't plan on doing any bushwalks on my recent trip to Tasmania to visit family. On my last visit, a year ago, I did the Three Capes Track. I wrote about that trip here.

Rocks on St Patricks Head


On this trip, I planned to relax and just walk on the beach and country lanes with my sister and brother in law. My niece from Hobart changed that. She came up to stay with us at her parent's family shack at Scamander on the East Coast and suggested we climb St Patricks Head one day. I was keen, although I didn't have my walking boots with me. I only had my old sneakers which didn't have any tread left on the soles. I had done that walk about twenty years ago with my son and brother in law. My son was about 11 years old at the time.

Rebecca on St Patricks Head
View from St Patricks Head


I remembered the "Beware of the Bull" sign and climbing up some parts of the mountain using ropes and a Steele ladder to pull you up some tricky steep bits on the track. My son was very proud of himself getting to the top.

Track Sign
Track Sign


Rebecca and I drove up from Scamander. The road to St Patricks Head is well signposted and turns off on the left on Irish Town Road, just before the small village of St Marys. We drove to the end of the road where the walking track started. There is a large building there now that wasn't there on my last visit. It was for sale.

Heading down


You can get to St Marys from Launceston by travelling on the Midlands Highway for 55 kilometres south to the junction of the Esk Main Road at Conara. Turn left and continue 20 kilometres to Avoca, then onto Fingal to St Marys. It is about 130 kilometres from Launceston to St Marys and takes about one hour and forty minutes.

St Patricks Head from Scamander Beach at sunset
St Patricks Head from Scamander Beach at sunset


Captain Tobias Furneaux named St Patricks Head in 1773. It was St Patricks Day when he saw the 694 metre peak. The carpark is 3.5 kilometres from the turnoff. The Peak is located in the Tasmanian State Reserve at the East end of the Fingal Valley.

View on way up mountain
View on way up mountain


This time the "Beware of the Bull" sign had gone as well as the ropes and ladders. Maybe the bull died, or someone may have stolen the sign. I did try to find out what happened to the ropes and ladder. I contacted the Ranger in Charge at St Helens and he replied in an email.

Start of track
Start of track

"The old steel ladder that used to be towards the top of the climb rusted out a couple of years ago and it disappeared. Where to, and by whom we still don't know. It wasn't removed by Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS). Nobody really knew when it was put there and by whom. It had always just been there. It never met safety standards, so in one way it was a blessing that it rusted out and was removed. We had the PWS Engineers look at it initially to design a new one that met Australian safety standards and the Engineer recommended that by not replacing it we were reducing the likelihood of someone injuring themselves by not encouraging people who may not be so agile to attempt the last bit where rock hopping is necessary, and that there are still great views to be had without going the last few metres. Anyone who is reasonably fit and agile can still get up the bit where the ladder used to be. I hope that answers your question".

View from St Patricks Head
View from St Patricks Head


Even though the rope and ladder had disappeared and I was wearing very slippery joggers with no tread, we still had a great walk up the mountain. It was a beautiful day and the views were spectacular. I didn't have my poles as I had left them in Brisbane, but people had conveniently left some tree sticks at the start of the walk. I borrowed one, which was great and left it there at the end for someone else to use. It helped a lot on the slippery bits.

With my stick
With my stick


My old slippery shoes. Not recommended


On the way up the mountain, we saw some gorgeous colourful purple and pink fruiting plants, and a couple of skinks. I posted a photo on a reptile identification site and they confirmed the skinks were Tasmanian Tree Skinks (Carinascincus pretiosus), even though one of ours was on a rock. We did see some other skinks on trees.

Tasmanian Tree Skink
Tasmanian Tree Skink


A local St Mary's Councilor, Janet Drummond identified the plants for me. She said the purple one was Billardiera longiflora or the Purple Appleberry. The climbing blueberry Billardiera longiflora is named in honour of Dr JJ Labillardiere the naturalist who came with D'Entrecasteaux. Longflora to indicate the long flower.

Purple Fruit Plant
Purple Fruit Plant


Janet thought the pink one was Leptocophylla Juniperina but said it could be a coastal subspecies "oxycedrus". I wondered if it was the Pink Mountain berry Cyathodes parvifolia, which is Endemic to Tasmania. It was lovely seeing some endemic Tasmanian plants and reptiles.

Purple and pink plant
Endemic Tasmanian Plants


Near the top of St Patricks Head on the main track, we came across a plastic box. On investigation, we discovered it was a Geocache. We wrote a message and left it where it was. It is only the second time I've ever come across one accidentally. The other one was in a remote area of Queensland at Dianna's Bath, when I was on a navigation course with my bushwalking club.

Rebecca with Geocache
Rebecca with Geocache


Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. It is a worldwide recreational activity.
A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and sometimes a pen or pencil. The geocacher signs the log with their established code name and dates it, in order to prove that they found the cache. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it.

St Patricks Head from road
St Patricks Head from road


I read that people who come across Geocaches accidentally are called Muggles. Rebecca didn't like that term, as she said it referred to non-magic people in Harry Potter. I quite liked it because it sounded like Puggles, which are baby echidnas.

Photographing plants on way up
Photographing plants on way up


After our walk, I took Rebecca to the local St Mary's op shop. I found a great bargain, three pairs of brand new Patagonia thermal leggings in three sizes, medium, small and extra small for $4 to $6.50 each. I bought them all and gave the two sizes that didn't fit me to bushwalking friends in Brisbane.

The walk is fairly easy, although it gets steep towards the top, and there are steep, slippery sections. We improvised in one spot, where the ladder used to be by using tree branches we found on the ground to wedge onto the rocks to climb up.

Views on way up
Views on way up


We were the only walkers on the track and towards the top, there was an eerie feeling. It felt like the movie Picnic at Hanging Rock to me, as we negotiated through the rocks.

It was very windy on top, so we stayed a little bit below and had lunch on a flat rock with magnificent views of the East Coast beaches. The walk takes about three hours return and is about four kilometres long.



The only other people we saw were two women, who had just started the walk as we got back to the car park. So if you are visiting Tasmania and want a very special experience, go and climb St Patricks Head.

View from near top
View from near top
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Why? Spectacular Views from Mountain Top
When: Anytime
Where: St Patricks Head, East Coast, Tasmania
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Looking good Roz. I laughed at the photo of your old shoes.
by May Cross (score: 3|5382) 223 days ago
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