Sheltering on the leeward side of Circular Head, the village of Stanley is a picturesque cray and shark fishing settlement that seems to belong in a previous era, but has somehow managed to defy the march of time and progress and make it into the 21st century relatively intact.
A visit to Stanley is like taking a step back in time. It’s an opportunity to stop and escape the frantic pace of modern life, if only for a few hours. The friendly locals go about their business as if tomorrow is a long way away, and the fresh sea air gives you an appetite for the simple, wholesome food on offer by the town’s numerous eating establishments. It’s all made with the freshest local ingredients – everything from wood-fired pizzas, scallops and char-grilled octopus to curried scallop pies.
Where is it?: Stanley is 80 km west of Burnie and 127 km west of Devonport via Bass Highway.
Visitor Information Centre: 45 Main Rd, Stanley. Ph (03) 6458 1330
Things to see and do:
The Nut, the large hill which overshadows the town, is actually the core or volcanic plug of what was once a volcano over 13 million years ago. Almost surrounded by ocean, the Nut rises 152 metres above sea level. It is now a state reserve and has a range of bird life including Short Tailed Shearwater (muttonbird), Nankeen Kestrel, Peregrine Falcons, Silver Gulls, Little Penguins and Orange Bellied Parrots.
Visitors to the Nut can either walk via a path or take the Nut Chairlift ride to the summit for a unique view of Stanley and surrounding areas. There is a 30 minute walk around the summit with lookouts and interpretation signs along the way.
Stanley Seaquarium provides a fascinating sea-life experience. Located on the waters’ edge alongside Stanley’s fishing fleet, housed in a shed originally constructed for crayfish processing, Stanley Seaquarium transforms the building into a fascinating discovery of Tasmanian sea-life.
Joseph Lyons Cottage: this cottage is the birthplace of Joseph A. Lyons who was born here in 1879. He was Premier of Tasmania (1923-28) and the only Tasmanian born Prime Minister of Australia (1932-39). The small timber Georgian cottage is one of J. Lee Archer’s original weatherboard cottages. It is furnished in the style of the 1930′s era and also displays memorabilia and photographs of the life and times of Joe Lyons.
Stanley Discovery Museum and Genealogy Centre: Located in what used to be the Parish Hall for St Paul’s Church, the Discovery Museum was established in 1973 as a an exhibition that will take you on a journey into Stanley’s past, with relics, antiques, memorabilia, photographs, documents and a genealogy centre from 1804 to the 1900′s.
Highfield was built in 1832-1835 for the chief agent of the Van Diemen’s Company, which opened up Tasmania’s north-west. Today, the house has been restored after the state government bought it the early 1980′s. Visitors may look through the old building and grounds, read the interpretation signs. Guides tours are available.
Stanley Burial Ground: the first burial here was 1827, and is now a closed cemetery apart from reserved plots. It is located on Brown’s Road at the base of The Nut and looks out over the sea. Many significant names associated with the beginnings of Stanley can be found here, including chief architect and surveyor Henry Hellyer who died by his own hand in 1832; this is regarded as one of the most significant graves. Also there are ticket of leave convicts, servants of the VDL Co. and seafarers. About 45 families have up to five family members interred, a significant one is the plot of the Kay family, four family members (including both parents) drowned while attempting the two mile crossing to Tasmania from Trefoil Island, leaving six of their children stranded on the island until they were rescued almost two months later. The earliest burial is John Linton, a servant for the VDL Co. He was buried in October 1827 as a result of drowning.
Lookouts: the views across the town and up and down the coast from the top of The Nut are spectacular.
Events: Circular Head Agricultural Show (every December)
Day drives from Stanley up the north west coast are highly recommended. The drive to the east along Bass Highway can include Wynyard, Table Cape, picturesque village of Boat Harbour, Stanley and Circular Head, Rocky Cape National Park. Drive west on Bass Highway to see Smithton, and Marrawah on the west coast. Roads into the hinterland lead to Trowutta caves (photo) and arch; Hellyer Gorge State Reserve; Allendale Gardens at Edith Creek. There are many waterfalls to, including Dip Falls and the giant eucalyptus tree and Guide Falls.
Dip Falls (40 km south): 152 steep steps descend to the bottom of the cubic-basalt formed falls. These falls are very picturesque, particularly during the winter months. The track to the accessible viewing platform is beyond the falls.
Smithton (21 km south west)
Boat Harbour Beach (50 km south east)
Wynyard (59 km south east)
Cradle Mountain (181 km south east)
Stanley Seaview Inn, 58 Dovecote Road, Stanley. Ph (03) 6458 1300
Rosebank Cottage Collection: 46 Brooks Road, Swdgy Creek. Ph (03) 6452 2660
Cable Station Restaurant & Acommodation: Old Cable Station, 435 Green Hills Road, West Beach. Ph (03) 6458 1312
Stanley Village Boutique Motel & Restaurant: 11-17 Wharf Road, Stanley. Ph (03) 6458 1404
Stamps of Stanley, 11-13 Church Street, Stanley. Ph (03) 6458 1109
Stanley Village Motel & Restaurant, 13-17 Wharf Road, Stanley. Ph (03) 6458 1404