Today’s cautionary tale is based on a true story. Consider this a comedy; with tragedy, suspense and adventure all thrown in for good measure. The Visitor Information Centre (VIC) in St Helens provides the backdrop, and the lady behind the counter is our heroine.

VIC - St Helens Visitor Information Centre

Visitor Information Centre (VIC) St Helens Tasmania

You, Me and the VIC

As we watched this encounter unfold, we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. We’d been browsing the books and brochures at the St Helens VIC, launch-pad for the Trail of the Tin Dragon in north east Tasmania. We were almost ready to leave when a lone tourist sauntered up to the desk.

He was passing through town, he stated. While his partner used the public conveniences, he thought he’d just pop in for a quick chat. “What is there to see and do in St Helens” he asked.

VIC - Trail of the Tin Dragon

Trail of the Tin Dragon, north east Tasmania

This was 2:30pm. So mid afternoon, okay? Our heroine – the VIC volunteer on duty that day – asked where he was planning to be that night. In Hobart, he said. We possibly sniggered right about then, but hopefully we did so very quietly. We stayed, purely to eavesdrop. That’s dreadful behaviour on our part, we know… but we couldn’t resist.

VIC - St Helens Marina

Boats: St Helens Marina

VIC - Seafood

Flathead: Blue Shed, St Helens Tasmania

St Helens to Hobart via Binalong Bay

Our heroine did her level best to encourage the gentleman to continue driving on to Hobart, so he and his partner would arrive at their accommodation safely at a reasonable hour. Say, 6:00pm allowing for comfort stops.

VIC - St Helens Mural

Mural: near St Helens VIC

The tourist would not be deterred. He really wanted to see the local sights. Today. This afternoon even. We spent a full week in St Helens, and came away wishing we had more time, knowing there was yet more to do and more to see.

The bewildered lady put forward Binalong Bay as the highlight of the region. Perhaps he’d like to take a 15-minute detour, enjoy the Bay of Fires for maybe 30 minutes, and then return (another 15 minute drive) to St Helens before heading off to Hobart, to arrive by 7:00pm. He thought the suggestion was a splendid idea. But he wasn’t done yet. The plot was to thicken!

VIC - Binalong Bay

From St Helens: Binalong Bay, Bay of Fires

Drive to Arrive

As it turned out, our tourist duo were planning to visit the Freycinet Peninsula as well. That same day! They were going to walk up to the Wineglass Bay lookout, then proceed down to the beach before retracing their steps up and over the lengthy track. What the…?

VIC - Wineglass Bay Lookout

Wineglass Bay Lookout (photo by Wayne Cartwright)

Our poor heroine may have blinked once or twice, but graciously took this news in her stride. She detailed all the times – both driving and walking – and wished the tourist well. We wondered if he would be safe. He would be driving a foreign and sometimes windy road, in the dark, with wildlife abound. Hopefully the little hire car and its occupants made it to Hobart in one piece.

VIC - Moulting Lagoon, East Coast Tasmania

Moulting Lagoon Lookout, Tasmania (photo by Dan Fellow)

Here’s the moral of this story. Allow more time than you originally think to tour Tasmania. There’s lots to see and lots to do; and travel distances are deceiving. And if you can’t stay longer, be ruthlessly selective and choose wisely. We want visitors (and wildlife) to stay safe. And if an expert VIC volunteer is offering you advice… take it.

VIC - Tasmanian Wallaby

Freycinet Wallaby, Wineglass Bay: wildlife

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Map: St Helens VIC, Tasmania…

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