The small dairy farming town of Sheffield is just 30 minutes from the northwest coast's largest city of Devenport. The area supports lamb and beef production and is world-renowned for its high-quality butterfat products. There is something more than green pastures and dairy products that attract tourists by the thousands to this peaceful spot.
This rural town has become known as the ‘mural town!’ After the first mural was painted in 1986, then more followed. Every year new murals depicting the region’s history, characters and natural scenery are added onto walls throughout the town. The paintings have now spread to neighbouring areas, with over 200 murals on display.
In 1963 Sheffield was the hub of the Mersey-Forth hydroelectric scheme. When it closed ten years later, the town was in decline. In the 1980s, residents formed a committee to breathe new life into Sheffield. Members heard that a small Canadian town revived their economy with murals. Sheffield embraced the idea and engaged their first artist John Lendis whose mural took three months and was opened in 1986.
More murals were added every year and in 2003 Sheffield held its first Mural Fest which has become an annual event. Each year has a different theme and artists submit a small version of a mural they’d like to paint. Nine artists are chosen to come to Sheffield for a week to compete for the award of best mural. The town has run out of ‘canvas’ so murals are painted on the walls in nearby areas. Sheffield now attracts over 200,000 visitors a year.
It is all about the murals in Sheffield. In the centre of town is Mural Park where Mural Fest is held, Mural House is full of indoor murals inspired by Aboriginal art, and the murals feature on all sides of buildings, even on letterboxes!
If you’ve seen enough murals, Sheffield is nestled at the foot of Mount Roland, rising an impressive 1,234 metres above sea level. The Mount Roland Conservation Area and Regional Reserve covers 7,600 hectares and attracts hikers to its many beautiful bushwalking trails including the most challenging – to the summit. The top of the mountain affords views of Bass Strait, Barn Bluff, and Cradle Mountain.
Day trips to Sheffield visit Lake Barrington, a popular destination for rowing, fishing, waterskiing, and canoeing. Sheffield has a warm, temperate climate, staying moderate throughout both summer and winter. In the warmer months, the locals love to picnic or BBQ by the lake.
There are over 200 murals including those in nearby areas. Visitors can take to the streets with Sheffield’s self-guided audio tour. The murals depict the history of the area, local townspeople, historic events as well as some of the natural beauty of the area. The town also boasts galleries and studios, many featuring artists-in-residence programs that are open to the public.
There is some disagreement about who named the town. Sheffield was settled in 1859 and some say it was named by James Powlett who originated from Sheffield in England. Others claim the town was named by Edward Curr, the wealthy manager of the Van Diemen's Land Company, who also came from Sheffield.
In the 2021 census, Sheffield’s population was 1,602.
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