30 November, 2022

Visit Sheffield: A town of quirky cultural festivals

This local community is enjoying a revival driven by steam and street art and is one of the winners of this year's Tassie’s Top Tourism Towns award.

Thirty minutes’ drive south of Devonport, Sheffield is the gateway to iconic Cradle Mountain. Don’t just shoot through though. Once an industrial town like the English city after which it’s named, Sheffield has reinvented itself with culture, especially a kaleidoscope of murals and SteamFest’s homage to hard-working heritage. 

Steamfest. Photo: Tourism Tasmania / Kentish Council

For those who love to have a plan

Held annually over Tasmania’s March long weekend, this event is a celebration of machinery from the industrial and agricultural past. For nearly 30 years, SteamFest has gathered all sorts of big steam engines, including a train doing rides every half-hour. Other activities popular with kids include the steamroller tug-o-war.

Less steamy highlights might include a light-horse regiment in traditional uniform, bullock-team demonstrations or steampunk costume competition, and there are always tractors vying to pull heavier and heavier loads. Live music and stalls offering arts, crafts and food add to the fun.

Sheffield Murals. Photo: Tourism Tasmania / Diane & Lindsay Stockbridge

More to see and do

Sheffield’s other major event is the annual Mural Fest, which started in 2003, but the catalyst was the town’s first mural commission in 1986. Scores of murals by local and international artists have gone up around Sheffield since then, including in Mural Park, the outdoor gallery where nine competing artists paint epic images each Mural Fest. Visit the Town of Murals any time to see decades of artistic exuberance. You can do a self-guided tour with this informative interactive map.

There’s also the Tasmania Medieval Festival, which attracts thousands each spring, and autumn’s Taste of the North West, a festival showcasing regional bounty including honey, olive oil, cider and seafood. It’s all aboard for vintage train rides at the Sheffield Steam and Heritage Centre on the first full weekend of every month, plus other special days. Or experience true horsepower with L&L Country Cart Tours, which offer scenic horse-drawn buggy rides.

Blacksmith Gallery Cafe. Photo: Blacksmith Gallery Cafe.

Where to eat

Enjoy daytime fare (including breakfast until 2pm!) among quirky heritage at Blacksmith Gallery Cafe, which used to be Sheffield’s smithy. The menu has plenty of vegan and gluten-free options, and the team make great hot drinks including coffee, loose-leaf tea and sticky chai. Mountain Mumma also has a comfy old-timey feel, especially when it stays open for dinner and perhaps live music on weekends.

Other top options include The Epicurean Cafe, which has a nice sideline in gourmet products and gifts, and Bossimis Bakery. Whether you want a big sit-down breakfast, scallop pies to go for lunch, sugary afternoon treats or fresh bread for self-catering, they’ve got you covered. At classic 1880s country pub the Sheffield Hotel, you’re set for beers, counter meals and accommodation as well.

Street outside Slaters Store. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Kelly Slater

Where to shop

Browse local artists’ creations including photography, paintings and textiles at Sheffield Art Gallery, and clothes, accessories, homewares and skincare at Slaters Country Store, which is still going strong after more than 120 years. At Sheffield Honey Farm’s shop, taste the whole range, including leatherwood, manuka and clover honeys, before deciding which one – or more! – to take home.

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Wild Cave Tours. Photo: Tourism Australia

What’s nearby?

Get closer to Sheffield’s dramatic backdrop, Mount Roland, perhaps even walking to the summit for views of Cradle Mountain and beyond. Enjoy aquatic pleasures including fishing and canoeing at Lake Barrington, or discover Mole Creek Caves’ magical limestone formations and glow worms. Kids love Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary’s furry and feathered friends, and the mazes, miniature buildings and other wacky wonders at Tasmazia and the Village of Lower Crackpot.


Information included in this blog is correct at the time of publishing. Please contact individual operators for further information.

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