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Another treasure in Tasmania’s already overpacked trove, is the delightful town of Stanley on the North West Coast. It was the end of the road for us on our Tassie trip prior to heading south to the wilderness areas in the wild west.
Stanley is mainly a fishing port, but more importantly it is a town of perfectly preserved colonial buildings, genteel cafes and quality B&B cottages. If you’ve seen the movie “The Light Between The Oceans” it was filmed in this very place!
Stanley is also the gateway to the region called the Tarkine, an expanse of uninterrupted 477,000 hectares of wilderness that holds ancient relics of both plants and animals dating back millennia, and unique habitats not found anywhere else.
It is difficult to describe your first glimpse of Stanley and the famous Nut as you drive on a winding hilly road into the town. Is it a rock or is it an island jutting off into the Bass Strait? It is in fact an immense flat topped, volcanic plug rising 150 metres straight up from the water’s edge and it looks over the quaint township.
Although I’d heard that the Nut was a very difficult walk to the top, it was what I would describe as short and sharp. With plenty of little breathers you can easily scale to the top of the Nut within 10-15 minutes. Otherwise you may choose to catch the chair lift to the top.
Once you get to the plateau at the top you can amble around the circuit track which takes around an hour. The Nut is covered in low lying vegetation and we saw Butcher Bird’s nests, little Pademelons and an array of birdlife. Once you get to the northern most point there are majestic views out over the Bass Strait and steep cliff faces beneath.
Circling the track in a clockwise direction you come to a couple of lookouts which give great views over Stanley Harbour and the township.
After our rigorous walk up The Nut we had a quick stop at the Stanley Visitor Centre where we obtained a map showing us the points of interest around the town. We set off on foot to identify these historical buildings, many that had plaques telling the history of the building and who resided there. Ex-Prime Minister of Australia 1932-1939, Joseph Lyons was born and bred in Stanley.
Stanley has plenty of fascinating stories. You can take a history tour through Stanley’s streets, lined with quaint stone cottages dating back to the town’s early days when it hosted the headquarters of the Van Diemen’s Land Company. Guided tours are available.
The Stanley Discovery Centre is a history, memorabilia and genealogy centre in the township.
We arrived in our campervan and found a waterfront site on Sawyer Bay in the caravan park and then set off on foot to explore the place. Sawyer Bay is perfect for a morning or afternoon stroll with a hard flat surface perfect for walking.
Godfreys Beach is a curving 1.1 km long east-facing beach, that is protected from the strong westerly winds and is great for swimming and walking.
Tatlows Beach is tied to the southern side of The Nut, with Stanley located on the 600m wide isthmus in between. This beach faces east into the open Sawyer Bay and is also safe for swimming or long strolls.
Also of interest is a drive up to Highfield Historic Site that features a historically accurate vision of a gentleman’s home and farm of the 1830s.
It sits on a hillside overlooking the lands the manager would have once controlled, with views across to Stanley and The Nut. There is a beautifully restored home of elegant Regency design, convict barracks, barns, stables, and a chapel which are surrounded by a large ornamental garden.
The other great feature of Stanley is the shopping. The relaxed village style of Stanley’s main street is lined with shops and galleries featuring original Tasmanian art, exquisite pieces of hand-crafted jewellery, woollen clothing, food delicacies and souvenirs.
For fresh from the sea seafood try Hursey Seafood, or a hearty breakfast at Moby Dick’s Breakfast Bar, get a caffeine and chocolate fix at Chocolate Gallery & Cafe, or for fine dining Xanders Restaurant serves up a gourmet selection of local produce.
What a gem of a place! Stanley not only has The Nut, but beautifully restored historic cottages, shops, a great museum, the wonderful Highfield Historic Site and pretty beaches. I would definitely recommend putting this town on your Tasmanian travel itinerary.
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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