In 1988 our son flew to Australia to participate in the country’s bicentenary, on a tall ship that was involved in the celebrations to mark the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney. Before this, however, the crews had had some time to explore various parts of the country, one of them being Tasmania. He had told us wondrous tales of his exploits, one of them being to a town named Sheffield which was renowned for its murals.
Diverting from the usual route from Launceston to Cradle Mountain allowed a visit, passing through other towns before arriving in Sheffield. One of these was Westbury, dubbed as the ‘most English’ of towns in Tasmania. Little more than a village with a population of some 1,400 people, Westbury has a feast of beautiful old buildings including its historic bluestone catholic church and a picturesque village green complete with oak trees.
We spent some time in this lovely little place and proceeded towards Sheffield, leaving the Bass Highway at the delightfully named Elizabeth Town, through Kimberley to Railton, which is also known as the town of topiary. Unfortunately, time, as always, played an important part of the itinerary so we cruised slowly through Railton seeing at least a few of the topiary wonders on offer.
The names of places surrounding our route were truly evocative: Paradise, Promised Land, Beulah, Nook, West Kentish, together with oddly named Weegena and Weetah. Given more time we would have liked to explore these places too, but Sheffield was our goal.
Sheffield is known as the Town of Murals and we soon found the reason as, upon driving into the main street there, on the wall of the first building, was a take away shop with a mural boasting an ‘udderly delicious menu’ with a list of milk products for sale together with a variety of burgers and the like.
Everywhere in Sheffield were murals, most covering the whole façade of the houses and many proclaiming the business of the properties they covered, like the ‘Sheffield Bible Chapel’ showing three figures, one ploughing the land, one sowing seed and a third garnering the crop. Even the police station had a huge mural of a policeman with a background of what appeared to be a mountain rescue service with a helicopter flying over the mountains and a Land Rover struggling up a steep track.
A house had a beautiful painted waterfall cascading down the walls from between the windows and over painted rocks at the bottom of the house, whilst another huge one depicted a man standing on a pinnacle of rock with mountains in the background and a Tasmanian Devil in the foreground.
We followed a map of the town’s murals to see them all, before proceeding on our rather delayed way towards Cradle Mountain some 47 miles away.
by Terry Took © 2014
Terry Took was born in Yorkshire but has lived in Tynemouth for over 50 years. He spent 45 years in the Merchant Navy which included 27 years as North Sea Pilot. He then spent five years as a lecturer at the Marine Department of South Tyneside College.
He is now an Elder Brother in Trinity House and Marine Director.
If you have any comments or would like to contact Terry then please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.