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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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Sharon SmithFebruary 19, 2016
I loved Highfield. Took me back in time as I stood at the upstairs Windows and looked out.
KathyFebruary 19, 2016
Wasn’t Stanley a little gem? I loved this place. I guess because I’m a history buff. :)
Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)February 19, 2016
The phrase “volcanic plug” is quite scary when you think about it. What is it plugging?? I love the brickwork on those old buildings. The tourist and antique/art shops in Tassie are divine. I still have an antique display cupboard I bought in Tasmania thirty years ago and it’s coming south with me when I move.
KathyFebruary 19, 2016
I guess it’s plugging an extinct volcano? Well at least I hope it is! I think the history is what makes Tassie so special. There are buildings like this everywhere you go. :)
Rae HilhorstFebruary 19, 2016
My trip to Tassie just got a little closer. Loving your posts as now I know where to go x
KathyFebruary 19, 2016
Thanks Rae. I know that your would enjoy a trip to Tassie. It is a beautiful place packed with so much treasure! :)
RuthFebruary 19, 2016
What a picturesque way to call a volcanic plug! Seems like there is a lot to do in Stanley. I wouldn’t mind having a house overlooking the ocean (or The Nut).
kathymarrisFebruary 19, 2016
The Nut is yet another marvel of nature. It is a pretty place but it does get very windy and cold here!
Lyn (aka) The Travelling LindfieldsFebruary 20, 2016
Is there really a chairlift to the top of the Nut? It seems so unlikely somehow.
KathyFebruary 21, 2016
Yes there really is a chairlift up to The Nut. But we very bravely took the steep path! Gorgeous place :)
corinnevailFebruary 21, 2016
So many little places to add to my list. I love it.
kathymarrisFebruary 24, 2016
There are so many wonderful places to visit in this world. Tassie is a definite must see :)
Louise TerranovaMarch 4, 2016
Thank you for sharing this Kathy. I am due to go to Tassie for a second time in a few weeks we are going through some of these places. You have whetted my appetite. I love the photo of Cradle Mountain.
KathyMarch 5, 2016
Thank you Louise. We actually missed Cradle Mountain as it was, believe it or not, snowing in late November! We didn’t have suitable clothing to wear and we were already freezing so we never ventured there. Stanley was beautiful and in fact the whole of Tasmania is. :)