Stanley – An escape for the soul
Perched at the edge of the world, the tiny fishing hamlet of Stanley in far north west Tasmania lures those seeking a path less travelled. Woven into its very core is the true essence of Tasmania – dramatic history, gourmet indulgence and rugged beauty beyond compare. It’s a wild spirit that etches itself into one’s soul.
In the same way that intrepid explorers Bass and Flinders saw it from the ocean in 1798, travellers to Stanley continue to pause in silent awe of Moo-Nut-Re-Ker, or simply ‘The Nut’. Whilst volcanic rock once spewed into these skies, this huge rocky monolith now dominates the landscape anchoring the township nestled snugly at its base. Climb this imposing figure to really awaken your lungs, or take the chairlift and lose yourself in the dramatic panorama beyond.
Venture to this quiet Tassie corner and be well rewarded. Small but diverse, Stanley is ripe for the adventurous family, the dedicated foodie or the luxury road tripper. Filled with salt of the earth characters, you’ll be genuinely welcomed.
History binds the threads of this village together. Wander along Alexander Terrace and breathe in the gentle parade of nineteenth-century cottages. Every dwelling beckons with a story, including that of the country’s only Tasmanian-born Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons. The tranquil aura of this virtually unchanged streetscape is why Hollywood films (Light Between Oceans), MasterChef and the Aldi brand have all chosen to shoot major works here.
Check in to Stanley and you’re checking in to something unique. The owners of the uber-hip Ship Inn guesthouse were originally from Hobart but found their calling hosting style-hungry guests from across the globe. “There’s something truly wonderous here,” they say. “It’s a town to lose your heart to…one that will become part of your own story.”
Whilst appetite may drive you to the internationally renowned cooking school sponsored by Cape Grim Beef, connection will keep you there. Discover the farm, understand the value of grass fed beef and bask in tales from the producers themselves. The local foraging adventure ends at the stunningly renovated Highfield Historic Site. Filled with the relics of yesteryear, the delight you’ll experience whilst cooking is not confined to your taste buds alone.
Fisherman’s Dock is the place to don your puffer jacket and jump aboard the local seal cruise. Nearby Bull Rock is home to over 500 Australian fur seals who spend their days frolicking in the clearest of ocean waters. Dolphins and southern right whales join them when the seasons allow. A feed of classic fish and chips on the beach, or an indulgence in fresh southern rock lobster, is the ultimate means to appease a stomach awoken by all that roaring forties air.
As the sun fades below the horizon the local penguins return after a day’s fishing. Elsewhere this would be a paid experience, but the Stanley foreshore treats one to unencumbered views of nature at its very best. The penguins waddle right by on their dusk march towards their burrows. Bring your soul, Stanley will do the rest.
It starts even before you get there. The approach to Stanley, along Tasmania’s stunning north west coast,yields endless photo opportunities.As you close in, take the Green Hills loop road, pausing at the classic orange photo frame to capture that Insta-worthy shot of The Nut.Get your bearings as you gaze across the town and drink in the freshest air in the world.Inspiration found, head down to the village and uncover Stanley’s intriguing past. Explore in the footsteps of a local by taking the self-guided Heritage Walk, including the discovery museum steeped in 1820s history.A peek into the boutique shops along the way will yield everything from glorious native timbers and sumptuous local merino,to delicious homemade jams and uniquely Tasmanian artworks.Pause at Hearts‘n’Crafts and take in the serious highlight of fine traditional talent. Options abound for lunch. After a meander around the Cow n Calf gallery settle in for their finest seafood chowder at Touchwood café. Divine views of The Nut and Sawyer Bay will captivate you. Follow up with an ice cream and some devilish desserts at the Speckled Hen tearooms. Whether your style is defined by a luxury storytelling inn, quirky cottage or a beach side cabin,Stanley seriously spoils for choice with options for a restful night’s slumber. Check in to the uber-hip Ship Inn Stanley to truly experience history in authentic story-telling style.Built in 1849 as a sailor’s tavern, this heritage listed accommodation has serious wow factor. Each suite tells a unique local tale and is filled with intriguing treasures.Views abound through the century-old dormer windows-unique gardens, close ups of The Nut, and magnificent panoramas of the port and bay beyond.Once you’re settled in,check out the historic museum right next door-the childhood home of the only Tasmanian-born prime minister, Joseph Lyons... the sense of history will transport you to another time.Wander down to the Stanley Hotel and choose a bottle of Tasmania’s finest direct from the historic stone cellar. A fresh seafood platter is the perfect partner,followed by an after dark stroll to the penguin viewing platform at Godfreys Beach.Wallabies will accompany you on your moonlight trek back to your cosy suite.
Wake up refreshed and enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Moby Dick’s breakfast bar. Take the walking track along the beach and soak up views of The Nut towering over the village. From here, it’s your choice–drop a line at the Stanley wharf alongside, it’s famed for its fleet of red fishing boats and go in search of Tassie’s renowned stripy trumpeter,have a hit of golf right under The Nut,or spend the morning whale and dolphin spotting whilst you cruise to the nearby seal colony. Either way, the morning is best topped off by visiting Hursey Seafoods for the freshest of fish and chips best enjoyed on the beach itself.Be sure to make friends with the local seagulls who can smell a hot chip from a mile a way. A short afternoon road trip to Dip Falls,where water’s fresh from the Tarkine wilderness thunder over unique cubes of basalt, is a must. Stop off at Blue Hills for honey tasting and to stock up on the world’s best leatherwood honey,the product of generations of Charles family expertise. Check out the stunning Big Tree, the perfect mini-rainforest walk to satisfy your green fix before heading back to Stanley.Back in the main street,there’s always room for a whisky at The Angel’s Share.Award-winning tipples from around the state, including the north-west’s own Hellyers Road, area delight for the tastebuds. And it’s not just a tasting room either, you can try on jewellery and luxury clothing whilst you unwind. The Tasmanian Wine & Food beckons with its serious antiques team-punk vibe permeating an old 1800s cottage. Enjoy a mouth-watering selection of charcuterie, cheese and fine Tasmanian wine while you spend your evening chatting to the locals. It won’t be long before you unearth one of Stanley’s salt of the earth characters.
THIRD AND FINAL DAY
Aromantic sunrise start is well worth the effort. Whilst there’s a little leg-burn involved,reaching the top of The Nut at this magical hour truly exposes the dramatic panorama on offer. Take the 2km circuit walk through the enchanting butterfly glade-you might even entice one to sit on your shoulder. Quiet encounters with the local potoroos are just as special. Relax and enjoy the chair lift down before grabbing a coffee and signature scallop &crayfish pie from Baked in Stanley.An island breakfast not to be missed.The internationally renowned Cape Grim Beef Provenance Kitchen cooking school is the perfect experience to top off your stay. Get up close with the cattle,go behind the scenes on the farm, and learn to cook the best surf and turf in the world.Enjoy a fabulous gourmet lunch in the old stone barn–think burgeoning tables draped in sumptuous white linen. It’s made all the better knowing you’ve personally foraged for samphire and salt bush and helped cook the spread on offer before you. A meander around the Highfield Historic site, complete with rich colonial tales, will have you wishing you never had to head back to reality. If you’re in luck, it’s movie night for the Crystal Theatre Film society in the old restored town hall. Rug up and take in a movie in the 1900s art deco hall. A cuppa and scones with your fellow patrons before strolling back to your suite is almost priceless.
MORNING OF THE FOURTH DAY
A simple breakfast in, a quick workout in the accommodations old stone stables, now converted into a gym,and you are ready to check out.Have a coffee in the Brown Dogcafé and pick up some “savoury toast” to go–a seriously delicious northwest coast specialty. Stop to enjoy one last walk along Godfreys beach before ambling through the historic cemetery. All the while, you’ll be under the watchful eye of the Nut...savour those last moments before retracing your steps via the stunning Green Hills loop road and head home. You’ll be back