This colourful country community is swathed in vibrant paintings and oozes rural charm. Here’s a local’s take on what to do in Tasmania’s ‘Town of Murals’.
There’s a certain tranquillity about the countryside surrounding Sheffield, Tasmania. Sheree Kent, co-owner of Eagles Nest Retreat, knows this intimately. Sheffield is not only where she grew up, it’s also the place her kids call home, even after years living overseas.
Her boutique self-contained accommodation, on what was previously the family’s dairy farm, has uninterrupted views of magnificent Mount Roland – drenched pink from the rising sun on clear mornings – and the undulating pastureland that fringes the north-west town.
“It's so serene here, and it really doesn't matter if it's summer or winter – every season is spectacular,” Kent says.
What my dad was telling me probably all my youth (and I wasn't listening) was, ‘This is world-class’.
The secluded retreat makes an ideal base for exploring the colourful town of Sheffield – a creative community on the road to Cradle Mountain, best known for its larger-than-life murals.
This is Tasmania’s outdoor art gallery.
Sheffield’s first mural was painted in 1986 by artist John Lendis – part of a community effort to reinvent the former hydroelectric hub and revive the local economy. Today, there are more than 160 murals on walls and buildings across town.
“What's nice is you don't have to walk very far to be able to appreciate it, and it's so accessible and interesting,” Kent continues. “A lot of those murals are very historically based and tell a story.”
Delve into these stories at the local visitor information centre, before heading off on a self-guided tour.
It may be a small town, but Kent recommends allowing plenty of time. “I love taking time to see the detail in them. And I love the fact that it’s a very tangible way of preserving the history of this area.”
Each November, Sheffield’s Mural Park comes alive for Mural Fest – a popular art competition that has further elevated Sheffield’s ‘Town of Murals’ status, adding a layer of cultural richness to a community that already lives up to its name.
During the week-long festival, a crowd of spectators gathers to watch selected artists paint vibrant murals that remain on display in the park for the following 12 months.
“Something about that big scale really brings the pieces of work alive,” Kent says, suggesting that people “really get into the spirit and the excitement of watching these pieces of artwork grow and flourish.”
Following the creative deep dive, there’s plenty more to captivate visitors in and around town. Kent suggests filling up at a local eatery, then perusing the local stores. A personal favourite is Slaters Country Store: “You will find something there, some gem that is unexpected,” she says.
Nearby Lake Barrington is a pleasant place to walk, picnic, fish or even camp overnight; if you’re up for something more strenuous, you can’t go past climbing Mount Roland. The summit (1234m) provides views of Bass Strait, Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff – well worth the 4–6hr return walk. “The views are just spectacular,” Kent promises.
Sheffield has not been left off Tasmania’s mountain biking map, either. “Bike riding is becoming a much bigger thing here,” she says.
After a day of exploring, Kent’s Eagles Nest Retreat is an appealing proposition. With four private ‘nests’, lavish outdoor tubs, open fires and huge windows framing the landscape, the retreat provides a ‘getaway’ in the true sense of the word. Gently crooning cows, croaking frogs and charismatic native birds make for soothing company in an otherwise secluded scene.
“It's very rare to get a place all to yourself,” Kent says. And after years travelling the world, this is something she can attest to.
“We understand what it is to come here and appreciate the ambience. That feel of it hits you as soon as you walk in the door.
“The biggest goal that we ever had was to bring families together, bring friends together, people together,” Kent continues.
There's no wi-fi, there's no distractions. There's no reason not to be just communicating and enjoying the space.
At the end of your Sheffield day, plunge into a tub, watch the sky deepen, then rest your head with a view of the stars. Enjoyment is bound to ensue.
Common FAQs for Sheffield, Tasmania
Where is Sheffield, Tasmania
The eclectic town of Sheffield is in Tasmania’s north west, 1hr west of Launceston, or 30min south of Devonport where the Spirit of Tasmania ferries arrive. Sheffield is on the road to the craggy wilderness of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. From here, take a fascinating Western Wilds drive to encounter dramatic landscapes and long-lost legends.
What is the weather like in Sheffield?
Tasmania has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons felt right across the island. The average temperatures in Sheffield are not dissimilar to nearby Devonport, on the north-west coast. In summer, the sun can be strong even if the temperature isn’t particularly high; in winter, Mount Roland may be dusted with a powdery coating of snow. Regardless of the time of year, prepare for four seasons in one day – bring warm and waterproof clothing, as well as a hat and sunscreen. Here’s more information about the weather in Tasmania.
Are there walking tracks near Sheffield?
Sheffield is at the northern edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, home to some of Tasmania’s best multi-day walks. Tackle several of the island’s tallest peaks on the 65km Overland Track in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, or immerse in a majestic landscape of alpine lakes and pencil pine groves at Walls of Jerusalem National Park. Closer to town, the 4–6hr return walk to the summit of Mount Roland delivers majestic 360-degree views.