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With the settlement of Launceston in March 1806 and surrounding areas in later years by immigrants from Europe, it wasn’t long before these settlers established the coastal fishing village of St Helens.The area now known as Binalong Bay was originally part of the Humbug Point sheep run, first leased from the Tasmanian Government by John Helder Wedge and later by John Steel. Steel erected a fence from the southern end of Grants Lagoon to Moulting Bay in an attempt to graze somme 500 sheep, all of which were apparently eaten/killed by Tasmanian Tigers (Thylacine).
In the early 20th Century a few families had built small wooden slatted shacks on the rocks and hummicks overlooking the main beach of Binalong Bay. In those pre or post World War One-Two days building materials where few and far between and locals still tell stories of carting scouraged building materials, such as scraps of iron roofing and pieces of timber down to “the bay”, each time they came to stay.
A trip to “the bay “in the 1940-50s took over half a day, with families typically travelling from Launceston over poorly made gravel roads, sandy tracks, across rivers, creeks and even swampy areas via crossings made from laid out tea tree poles…no doubt many a travellers vechile become bogged or had a flat tyre, providing an interesting story to tell friends when they arrived or around the campfire that night.
Today you can see still the original wooden slatted shacks and the various styles of beach houses that have been subsquently built over the decades, reflecting not only the changes in available building materials, but the changes in the economic circumstances of families over the generations. Many families and visitors to these shacks or beach houses enjoy a either northward view of the magnificent Binalong Bay beach, the lagoon, surrounding gulches or the Bay of Fires and Eddystone lighthouse on the northern most tip of the Bay of Fires.
A typical morning sees locals cooking crayfish if the overnight cray potting has been successful or the scaling of fish. At night the backyard campfires are still the go, but the firepit is fast giving way to the stainless steel BBQ from Bunnings and todays family traditions and activities are not so reflective of those early years…”the good old days” as many local would say.
Many families who built their shacks in the 1940-50-60s have now passed them from their generation to the next, but as the prices of shacks and land has dramatically risen over the last ten years, an increasing number of shacks or vacant blocks of land have been sold, enabling the the construction of much larger, designer built beach houses …although the locals and Tasmanians generally still call them, ” shacks” or “the shack”.