It’s worth the journey …
It takes a long time to get here. Maybe that’s what makes it so special.
This old-worldly fishing hamlet in Tasmania’s far north west offers an almost magical solitude and mindfulness to those seeking respite from the crowds.
It rewards those who venture with secluded beaches, wild landscapes and an off-beat charm that only salt of the earth Tasmanians can provide. “Come on in, get comfortable” they’ll say, through warm grins. “Did you know this building is almost 200 years old? And, this whisky is a world-beater”.
It’s different here. This place has a culture of its own. Anything larger than a station wagon is ‘a bus’; and what is that weirdly addictive North West Tassie delicacy, ‘savoury toast’? Why does everyone go ‘up’ the coast… surely, it’s ‘down’? How do the locals know which is the ‘top beach’ and which is ‘bottom beach’? These are questions worth exploring, slowly, as this island culture warms your soul, like a cosy open fireplace warms your toes.
Locals are raised on prime grass-fed beef, mutton-bird, oysters, abalone, fresh-caught fish, lobster and scallops… yet think nothing of it. They are so accustomed to quality, they’re almost oblivious. It is nothing to forage along the pristine coastline for samphire or saltbush to add to the evening meal. Even the local pub is worthy of culinary acclaim, with a stone cellar dating back to the 1800s, not to mention the seafood restaurant with its own red-boat fishing fleet and a giant lobster on the roof! Despite the challenges of 2020, seafood sales are booming and locals have started selling platters, grazing boxes and giftware. They are a resilient and creative bunch; but you have to be when you live on the edge of the world.
There is a magic here, that changes people. To climb the iconic Nut, gaze across Bass Strait and the vibrant rolling hills, whilst deeply breathing the world’s cleanest air… it’s a natural elixir capable of truly altering your perspective. An exploration of Highfield House and the quirky museums with seashell sculptures, run by volunteers in home-spun jumpers, reminds visitors of life’s simple beauty. And, Instagram seems to LOVE the fat and happy cows grazing the volcanic pastures of the Nut.
It’s not all food and nature, Stanley also packs a punch of world-class sophistication. Local B+Bs frequently adorn the covers of glossy magazines and the art deco town hall regularly hosts cultured film nights… followed by homemade scones and tea, of course. The cellar door and wine bar offer remarkable hospitality and Stanley is also home to an artistic community that includes a Glover Prize winner. This place inspires creativity, on display through the sleepy streets.
Stanley is simply jaw-dropping, but locals don’t seem to notice. For them, it’s home and they proudly slow down to make way for wide-eyed visitors.
It’s a long way, but the journey is worth it. Escape the crowds and encounter the magic.
Our visitors are high-energy and have been leading busy urban lives in the rat race; dealing with traffic, deadlines and stress. They need a break, a chance to get away and escape the crowds to a destination where they can relax and unwind. A place to slow down to the pace of the locals and feel the magic.
DAY ONE – EXPLORE THE TOWN
Spend a relaxing day exploring the township of Stanley, getting your bearings, recalibrating and meeting some of the locals.
8AM: BREAKFAST IS SERVED
Wake up at Ship Inn Stanley roll out of a sumptuous king-sized bed dressed with soft linen bedding, enjoy fresh sourdough bread and Tasmanian jams in your suite and pamper yourself with the luxurious bathroom products. With beautiful artworks by Stanley local, Jeff Power, each suite tells a local tale… immerse yourself in the story of yours. It will be home for four luxurious days.
9AM: EARLY STROLL
Take a short stroll to the port, under the towering Nut, the remains of an extinct volcanic plug. Soak in the views of the local fishing fleets moored under the Nut. If you’re in luck you’ll see the starlings doing their morning acrobatics as they skim along the water and circle the bay.
10AM: SOAK UP THE HISTORY
Take in the history at Joe Lyons Cottage, the birthplace of the only Tasmanian-born prime minister; his grandfather built the Ship Inn in 1849. Marvel at the ancient volume of Shakespeare laying on the mantlepiece, which was picked up on the beach a century ago. Read all about the history of this iconic Tasmanian, born in the little town at the edge of the world.
10.30AM: COFFE TIME
Stroll into the centre of town to The Speckled Hen Cafe and enjoy a coffee or tea and one of the delicious house-made cakes. Explore the Hearts and Crafts volunteer shop in the centre of town and the Discovery centre with quirky shell sculptures and an incredible collection of historical items and local stories. Wander the historic township and soak up the views of charming buildings nestled under the Nut.
12.30PM: ENJOY A PICNIC WITH A DIFFERENCE
Pop into Providore 24 and gather some fine Tasmanian produce for a picnic with a difference; the local Topfish pickled octopus is amazing and the local La Cantara cheese. Take your provisions up the Nut. It doesn’t take you long to get up, but it is incredibly steep, so stop and take photos to catch your breath. You could take the chair lift (but that’s cheating) It is an experience worth having, so maybe take it up and down for the fun factor when you’ve finished your picnic…you won’t regret it.
Head to the sheltered glade, taking in the views of the rugged coastline and Bass Strait beyond and enjoy a picnic in the company of wallabies and pademelons. Hold on to your beanie as you walk the loop track, it gets windy atop the Nut, especially when standing at the look outs soaking in the views.
2PM: HISTORIC HIGHFIELD
Head along Godfreys Beach to Highfield Historic Site, and explore some of the fascinating local history from the early 1800s. The interpretation panels are incredible and you start to realise the ‘portraits’ of the early settlers are actually of locals you’ve been meeting around town. Get a little freaked out in the upstairs rooms…they are a little eerie!
Head back to town and pop into Dockside Café for a quick coffee while you marvel at the multitude of seagulls outside your window. In the right season you can watch chicks hatch and you might be lucky enough to see a seal, pod of dolphins or a passing whale. The local fishing fleet and towering Nut make a picture postcard back-drop to this port side establishment.
4.00PM AN EPIC WINDOW SEAT
Explore the region in style with an epic window seat on an Osborne Heli Tour. Depart from Stanley for a one-hour ride taking in the swirling tidal patterns of the Tarkine Coast. Follow the Northwest coast around Woolnorth and down to Arthur River to follow the twisting, turning beauty upstream into the Tarkine forests.
5.30PM: LOUNGING AROUND
After all that exhilaration, head back to your accommodation to ‘The ghost of Old John Peacock’ guest lounge in the converted 1900s billiard hall and relax in the sumptuous space while enjoying views of the Nut and the ocean. Relax on your luxurious velvet couch enjoying the flickering of the fire and an artisan tea.
7PM: COUNTRY PUB
Stroll down to the historic Stanley Hotel bistro and enjoy a delicious meal of Cape Grim beef with locally sourced produce, paired with fine Tassie wine. Make sure to check out the stunning bluestone wine cellar, the oldest along the coast. There’s no pokies or slot machines here, it is true country pub style and the locals love to play ‘brackets and jam’ in the bar on Sunday afternoons. If you kick up your heels and join them you might be invited to sing a tune.
8.30PM: SAY GOOD NIGHT TO THE PENGUINS
Head back to your suite, detouring along the way to the penguin viewing platform at the base of the Nut. Watch the little penguins, illuminated by the soft red glow of lights, wobble along the rocks to their burrows in the scrub next to the historic cemetery. That strange high pitched chirpy warble accompanying you home is the sound of their calls.
9PM: LIGHTS OUT
Retire to your suite to put your feet up.
DAY TWO – A TASTE OF THE TARKINE
Today is all about venturing a little further afield, exploring some of the pristine Tarkine rainforest and soaking in the ambience of the green rolling hills in this stunning part of the world.
7.30AM MORNING WALK
It’s easy to find the motivation to rise early and go for an invigorating walk through the township and onto Godfrey’s beach and around the loop past Highfield House. Soak in the views of green pastures dropping straight to the ocean and the ever-present views of the Nut.
9.00 BREAKFAST AT TOUCHWOOD
After working up an appetite wander up to Touchwood for a fabulous cooked breakfast and one of the best coffees in town. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the beach and the Nut as you plan out your day. Don’t forget to peruse their fabulous gallery of artisan wares and spare a pat for Teddy the shop poodle.
10AM: EXPLORE DIP FALLS
Head off for a scenic 40-minute drive to Dip Falls and marvel at the thundering hexagonal basalt falls with vantage points above and below. The river leading into the massive falls appears so still you can barely comprehend the might of the waterfall. Head a little further along for a stroll into the forest to see the Big Tree, a mighty example of stringybark with a 17-metre diameter.
12.00PM STOP IN AT BLUE HILLS HONEY
This Blue Hills Honey Experience is impressive with its stunning wooden sculptures, high quality fit out and incredible viewing and tasting experience. Learn all about the bees and history of beekeeping in this district. The owners are often on hand to have a chat. Have a delicious lunch at the in-house Colony café and congratulate yourself on the top-quality food choices available. Take a selfie photograph posing as a giant bee before you head off.
2.00PM EXPLORE TOWUTTA ARCH
Turn back towards Stanley and take a scenic drive through Forest, enjoying the farmland so green and rich it doesn’t seem real. Drop down through the rainforest to Trowutta Arch, the perfect micro adventure walk. You’ll be overwhelmed by the smell of crisp rainforest air and the stillness as you head to the arch. The scenery changes abruptly to stunning jagged limestone walls with massive man ferns, the result of a collapsed cave system.
4.00PM BEACH STROLL
Head back to your Stanley and hire a bicycle from the visitor centre for a short spin on Tatlows (the bottom beach). When the tide is out the hard packed surface makes for an easy ride and you can explore the fantastic walking track which starts near the golf course. Feel the exhilaration of peddling fast over the hard packed sand as you enjoy stunning views of the Nut.
5.00PM: PRE-DINNER DRINKS
Stroll down to check out the luxury wares and incredible array of Tasmanian wines and spirits at The Angel’s Share cellar door. Make an impulse purchase and watch the owners expertly wrap it whilst you’re enjoying a tipple of fine Tasmanian whisky in front of the fire. Stroll back along ‘the terrace’ swinging your crisp white paper bag of goodies, feeling the warmth of the fire, genuine hospitality and maybe the after-glow of a fine Tasmanian whisky.
6.30PM SEAFOOD DINNER
You know they serve seafood when there’s a giant lobster on the roof. Head to Hurseys Seafood for a lobster dinner to remember, enjoying the sea views from the large picture postcard windows. The seafood is so fresh, as they have a large fishing fleet plying the nearby waters.
Watch the wallabies and pademelons emerge for their evening feed as the street lights come on as you stroll ‘home’ through the historic streets.
9PM: LIGHTS OUT
Retire to your suite to put your feet up.
DAY 3 – ROCKY CAPE & SURROUNDS
Galleries, aqua hued beaches and the majesty of Rocky Cape. Today is all about exploring and indulging.
8AM: BREAKFAST AT MOBY DICK’S
Stroll into town and join the locals at Moby Dick’s breakfast bar. Read newspaper clippings from the 1800s of Stanley residents applying for spouses, selling wares and reporting thefts. Enjoy a breakfast fit for a king while you day-dream about quitting your job and opening a breakfast bar. It is always amazing to visit a restaurant that’s so good at one thing.
9.30 ART EXPEDITION
Wander down to the shops and explore the Cow n Calf Art Gallery, The Brown Dog , Stamps of Stanley , Stanley Hotel Gifts and Sticks & Stones Shells & Bones and give in it to the urge to buy art, after all the blackboard outside does say “Earth without art is ‘Eh’”. Exploring the streets of Stanley is definitely a mood boosting experience as you soak up the views of the beach and the historic cottages sheltering against the Nut.
11.00 EXPLORE THE HISTORIC CEMETERY
Pop into Leather & Wood for a coffee before strolling to the historic cemetery at the base of the Nut, surely the most picturesque resting place in Tasmania. The little penguins share this space, with their nests under the bushes facing out to sea. Learn about the lives of the European settlers and those who shaped Stanley’s early days in this harsh settlement. You can almost imagine their lives in this remote outpost as you gaze across to Highfield Historic Site on the hill across the bay.
12.00 LUNCH AT THE BEACH
Take the scenic drive back up the coast to Boat Harbour, stopping along the way at Cuppa, Cake & Collectables to check out the amazing assortment of antiques, collectables and curiosities on sale in this converted hall. Boat Harbour is idyllic and no wonder, it’s been voted one of the top ten beautiful beaches in Australia. The township located on the side of a gentle hill which tumbles down to a pure white beach with a rocky headland on either side, looks like an advertisement for paradise. Enjoy lunch in Sweet Ness At The Sea, a wonderful restaurant located right on the beach in the surf lifesaving club and if the weather is kind have a dip in the ocean and soak up the atmosphere of this stunning location.
2.30 ROCKY CAPE
On the way back into Stanley call into Rocky Cape National Park. A quick stop at the Rocky Cape Roadhouse enables you to procure a Park’s Pass then head on up to the lighthouse to enjoy the jaw dropping views which look positively pre-historic.
Explore the park, taking time to do some of the walks, including the incredible cave walk where you can learn about the aboriginal history of the region. Keep your eyes peeled for seals, black cockatoos and wallabies and pademelons as there is an abundance of wildlife in the park.
4.30 GOLF & SAVOURY TOAST TIME
Head back to Stanley and pick up some delicious savoury toast from Brown Dog to refuel a little; you’ve earned this local treat. Head into the welcoming Stanley Golf Club for a quick game around this stunning nine-hole course, with jaw-dropping views of the Nut. The members will welcome you with open arms and casual green fees are paid into an honesty box.
7.00PMPM: DINNER WITH A DIFFERENCE
Take a short walk to Tasmanian Wine and Food in a converted cottage in the centre of town. This quirky space has a steam-punk, speakeasy vibe and an array of vintage books on unusual subjects to entertain you. You’ll be treated like a local and entertained by the banter of those who pop in just for a chat (and a tipple). Get to know some of the locals while you enjoy a platter of local cheeses and delicacies; they love to share all the secret spots to explore in the region.
10.00PM: LIGHTS OUT
DAY FOUR – ARTHUR RIVER & MARRAWAH
Head to the ‘Edge Of The World’ to explore the secluded rivers, wild coast and quirky lifestyle of those who live in this remote region.
9.30 THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
Have breakfast in your suite, then take the scenic drive through the rolling green hills and admire the lush farming country as you head on out to Arthur River. Surrounded by dense rainforest and named after the wild river that runs from the mountains to the sea. When you reach the coast at Marrawah the incredible rugged beaches of the North West coast open up before you.
Take a tour up the River with Arthur River Cruises, enjoying the last serene vistas and marvelling at the local insights shared by the friendly guides. Watch a sea eagle feed, and you may see platypus and all manner of wildlife. Enjoy a BBQ lunch at Turk’s landing and explore a part of the remote and beautiful Tarkine.
After your cruise spend some time exploring the pristine coastline and venture into the Arthur Pieman Conservation area to soak up views of the ever-changing landscape and see the quirky isolated shack communities.
Head on back to Stanley, stopping in at Tarkine Fresh Oysters in Smithton to pick up some oysters for a pre-dinner treat. These oysters are harvested fresh daily from Duck Bay in Smithton and are a delicacy not to be missed.
6.00PM FISH & CHIPS
It’s been a big day and take away fish & chips from the local mini mart are in order, enjoyed at the Godfrey’s beach picnic area, under the shelter of the Nut. Make sure to save a chip or two for the seagulls; they will be grateful. End the day with a leisurely stroll along Godfrey’s beach, soaking in the stunning views of Highfield Historic Site and the rolling green hills in one direction and the towering Nut in the other.
8.00PM BECOMING A LOCAL
Stroll back through the town and pop into the friendly public bar at the Stanley Hotel for a drink and a game of pool with the locals, if you’re lucky you might win the weekly ‘chook raffle’. The fire is blazing and the smiles are warm and welcoming as you enjoy your last evening in town.
10.00PM LIGHTS OUT
It’s only been four days, but already some of the locals know your name. If you’re feeling sad to leave, take comfort in the fact that you can start planning your next trip to Stanley. The locals will welcome you back again with a warm and welcoming smile.