As you drive into the small Tasmanian town of Sheffield from any direction, one of the first things you will notice are the beautiful murals that adorn many of the local buildings. Artists have spent hours telling the story and history of Sheffield and its local surroundings in these beautiful paintings. The town itself is in a tranquil rural setting shadowed by the nearby Mount Roland, which you can climb if you are game.
Our kids loved blending in with the Murals
Approximately 10km north lies another quaint little town. Railton which proudly displays up to more than a hundred imaginative topiaries in and around town. You can spend hours wandering the streets and discovering all the different ways you can bring shrubbery to life. Railton’s other little secret is that it claims to produce Tasmania’s finest wine, beer, and cider.
Amazing Topiary on every street
With places for campers to stay at both towns, you can enjoy all they have to offer. We have only touched on a few things in the article below, but for a full list of things to do in this magnificent area, be sure to visit the local Tourist Information Center.
Sheffield was originally settled in 1859 by Edward Curr and named after his home town in South Yorkshire, England. Originally established as Kentishbury, it was renamed as Sheffield in 1882. Rapid growth resulted in the 1960’s due to the development of the local power schemes, which included seven dams and seven power stations. By 1973 the town hit a decline in the population and it was soon after this that a small crowd of residents pursued the town’s resurgence as the Town of Murals.
Originally the town was occupied by Tommeginne people, but then surveyed in 1853. Originally known as Redwater Creek it became known as Railton after the construction of a tramway line in the 1860’s. The town was occupied by early settlers for farming and timber cutting and its famous broad main street was specially constructed to accommodate bullock teams heading to the railway station to load produce. The town flourished with two sawmills and was acknowledged as the timber trade centre. In pursuit of progress, Neil Hurley began the town’s topiary program in 1999.
You can easily spend a week or two between the two towns to fully take in all there is to see and do, and if you are there at the right time of year there are some very unique events.
Things to See and Do
Sheffield Heritage Museum – Kentish Museum
Stationed in 93 Main Street, this museum is distinctly local. It features items from daily life, such as household effects and clothing, old books, wall phones, newspapers, minerals, and farm equipment.
Showcasing the town’s pride the park features the Wall of Fame, which put forward the champion murals from previous years’ competitions. Succeeding to it is a competition theme wherein murals are expected to exhibit paintings to attune with the winning entry in a poem competition as a part of the International Mural Fest. Entry is Free.
Great day at Mural Park
Kentish Visitor Information Centre – Story of the Sheffield Murals Audio Tour
The Visitor Information Centre offers the opportunity to take part in a 90 minute self-guided walking tour which explains Sheffield’s fascinating murals. The story begins with why the first mural was commissioned and how a rural town in economic decline was transformed into a thriving outdoor art gallery. The audio explains the significance of many of the murals and the stories behind them.
Enjoying the tour
Working Art Space
Acknowledged by the Kentish Branch of Tasmanian Regional Arts, the Working Art Space is a flourishing centre for local artists and artisans and a gallery that houses their outstanding work and pieces. You can view, purchase, or even enroll in their regularly-held art workshops.
Working Art Space Welcome Sign
The World of Marbles
Still amused by marbles? Kids and Adults alike will love this studio which includes on-site marble-making process using hot glass. It accommodates a marble gallery of contemporary art designs, which is the only one within Australia. It includes a kids room filled with playing marbles, and an exhibit of the owner’s private collection.
Sample marble designs
Slaters Country Store
This iconic country store has seen five generations of the same family operating it for over 100 years, and definitely worth a visit. Offering a variety of merchandise from clothing to souvenirs, the time-honored architecture with it’s authentic facade and wide verandas and old time relics includes a flying fox change dispenser and old wall phone. Complete with its own Mural which tells the story of “The Missed Opportunity”.
Serene evening at Slaters Country Store
Redwater Creek Steam and Heritage Society
On weekends, go back to the olden days through a steam locomotive rail ride from the original Sheffield railway station. Along with, the Redwater Creek Railway’s Coffee Shop and the Miniature Railway are accompanying attractions to enjoy.
Salisbury Steam Roller
Mount Roland Quad Bikes
If you are after a bit of adventure on your trip Mount Roland Quad bikes offer just that. Located in the foothills of Mount Roland, you can enjoy quad bike rides through sub-alpine forests, farmlands, rocks, mud, and hill climbs. No experience is needed and it’s a tonne of fun.
Drive through in the sub-alpine forests
Seven Sheds Brewery Meadery and Hop Garden
A showcase of brewery expertise and attraction that offers five beers of tasting and a glass, supplemented by bottled seasonal brews. This locale makes a pitch for those who are curious about the brewery know-hows.
Meadery and hop garden
Looking Glass Cottage – Fibre Optic Magic
Looking Glass Cottage specialises in magical mood lamps, character lamps and fibre optic trees. The trees are up to eight feet high displayed in beautiful dark rooms. There are also murals inside and outside. Amazing Character Topiary Gardens including “Cradle Mountain National Paddock”. With many topiary characters including Tasmania’s only “living” topiary Tassie Tiger.
A look inside the store
The Statue of Norman Sykes and Sanctuary Park
Norman Sykes was was one of Railton’s most colourful residents. Also one of Tasmania’s most eccentric conservationists, who left fifteen hectares of bushland to the young people of Railton. Instructed it to be a sanctuary for birds as a way of giving back to nature.
Stoodley Plantation Forest Walk
5.5km to the South of Railton, the exotic road of old plantings and current timber forests illustrate an unusual walk through Sheffield.
Tasmazia & The Village of Lower Crackpot
Tasmazia is a fun-filled venue for the young and young at heart, a place where memories are made. It includes 8 mazes, as well as The Village of Lower Crackpot, a whimsical model village built to 1/5th scale. A self serve Cafeteria, Souvenir and Gift Shop, and a Lavender Farm. Including Embassy Gardens, and ever-present views of majestic Mount Roland.
Get lost in Tasmazia
A major fundraising event of the Redwater Creek Steam and Heritage Society and Tasmania’s premier award-winning Country festival. Held over three days in March, it has one of the biggest collections of working steam machinery in Australia. It includes steam train rides. Also exhibitions of pioneering skills such as blacksmithing. Historic machinery such as steam-powered threshers and rock crushers showing how things were done in yesteryear, and vintage cars. Also with plenty of entertainment including Kids vs Steamroller. Including Tug-o-War, art, craft, and food stalls. The Krauss steam loco running every half hour, all day long!
International Mural Fest
International Mural Fest is both a mural art competition and festival. Held annually on Easter Sunday in Mural Park, Sheffield. It has nine artists competing in a public ‘paint off’ from Easter Sunday to the following Saturday.
2018 Mural Fest Theme
Where to Stay
Sheffield RV Stop offers overnight stays for Fully Self-Contained Motorhomes and Caravans of all sizes located behind the sports oval.
O’Neills Creek Reserve Campground is a perfect overnight stop. Enjoy and explore Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National Park. It has a maximum stay of 96 Hours.
This Hotel is a legendary site that offers free camping at the rear of the hotel. It has seven standard and family rooms for accommodation.
Railton Motorhome Stop offers a free camp for Self-Contained Recreational Vehicles. Open all year round located in The Esplanade, just off Foster Street. Great place to base and visit the area.