Dominated by ‘the Nut’, a volcanic plug on the edge of town, Stanley is impossible to miss on a journey to Tasmania’s north-west. The Nut rises 152 metres with almost vertical cliffs on three sides plunging into Bass Strait, and at its base is the historic village just begging to be explored.
George Bass and Matthew Flinders discovered the unique formation in 1798, naming it ‘Circular Head’; the region’s municipality is still called this. It was settled from 1826 after the Van Diemen’s Land Company was granted land in the north-west, including the Stanley area, and employees from England arrived in the region.
The township was named in 1842 after Lord Stanley – who went on to serve three terms as the British prime minister – and the village eventually became a thriving and bustling centre built around farming. These days, tourism and fishing are its major drawcards, with people flocking to see the incredible views both of and from the Nut. Surrounded by beautiful coastline, and with heritage buildings and terraced streets, this ‘edge of the world’ town with its mix of natural and historical wonder is certainly worth a visit.
“This beautiful historical fishing village is a place everyone should see. A lazy little town set under the Nut, this place has so much history, it will take you back to the early settler days. Gorgeous beaches to boot, and lots of restaurants to tickle your tastebuds.” - Jenny Barnes, Launceston, Tasmania
What to do:
- Climb the Nut or if, the challenge is too great, take the chairlift for incredible views over the north-west coastline and Stanley.
- Explore the historical township, which has a number of heritage buildings that have not changed over the years, including the Van Diemen’s Land Company store.
- Join a penguin tour or hop aboard a seal cruise to encounter some of the region’s local residents.
“You can see why Stanley is often referred to as ‘the edge of the world’, perched as it is next to the Nut, a little piece of land that drops off into Bass Strait. Our first port of call, like most travellers I would say, was a chairlift ride to the top of the Nut. We were lucky enough to be joined by a fifth-generation local man, Graham, who runs a B&B in town. To meet someone with such a long family history in Australia is quite rare, but it’s a common occurrence in Stanley. Home to some of the freshest air in the world, the breeze from the top of the Nut certainly blows out any cobwebs, and the views of the beaches on all sides are breathtaking.
The town itself is charming, with its lovingly restored buildings that house cafes, art and craft shops, and B&Bs. Many of the original English settler buildings have been preserved, and a drive around town is fascinating. There’s Highfield, a historic house built in 1841 that’s regarded as the birthplace of the European settlement of Tasmania’s northwest, and you can even see the former home of Joseph Lyons, Australia’s tenth prime minister, who took office in 1923. But it’s not just the town and the Nut that are beautiful. We took a scenic helicopter flight out to the nearby Tarkine wilderness area, a huge expanse of cool temperate rainforest that contains Aboriginal archaeological sites – it really is a stunning place.” - Jen and Clint
This is an edited extract from Australia’s Ultimate Bucket List by Jennifer Adams & Clint Bizzell published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $29.99 and is available in stores nationally.