Burnie Tasmania has been transformed. Well, apparently. This being our first visit to the northern Tasmanian city, we can’t comment on its reputedly tainted past.

These days, it definitely makes a positive  impact. The industrial port zone somehow adds character to the region. And cruise ships bring their passengers here during the summer, so they obviously approve.

Burnie Tasmania - Docks and Port
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Burnie Tasmania: industrial port and cruise ships

Burnie Tasmania: History & Factory Shame

There’s no attempt to ignore the history of the town. At one of the lookouts over the port, there’s even a memorial stone declaring that Burnie in Tasmania was once Australia’s most polluted city. The words obnoxious odour, polluted air, noxious smell, factory, stained the sea red… aren’t exactly what you’d expect from tourism promotion. But the city is intensely proud of the gigantic improvements made since those nasty days in the 1960s.

Burnie Tasmania - Wilf Campbell Memorial Lookout
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Reminders of Burnie’s notoriously polluted past

Other lookouts paint a rosier picture. Rising from the surrounding bushy hinterland, versions like the Roundhill Lookout offer views over the city and Emu Bay. On a sunny day, Bass Strait sparkles bright blue along the coast with Ulverstone to the east and Table Cape to the west.

Burnie Tasmania - Roundhill Lookout
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Roundhill Lookout: views over Burnie Tasmania

Burnie Tasmania Workshop Makeover

The recent resurgence of Burnie Tasmania includes several new visitor attractions. The Makers Workshop is located in a very impressive building that was opened in November 2009.

Combining history and innovation, the tourist information centre promotes the makers and artists of the area. We’ll go into more detail about the Burnie Makers Workshop in a separate article.

Burnie Tasmania - Makers Workshop
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Recently opened Makers Workshop, Burnie Tasmania

The Burnie Little Penguin Observation Centre and Habitat** goes some way towards proving the new environmental stance of the city. The adorable creatures could choose to live elsewhere. But they have taken up residence on the rocky foreshore practically on the doorstep of the town’s CBD. We have more photos of the penguin habitat, and we’ll share them one day too!

(20/04/11: we’ve written that article now, click link above**)

Burnie Tasmania - Little Penguin Observation
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Observation: Little Penguins in Burnie Tasmania

North West Coast Sporting Hub

Adjacent to the Makers Workshop and the Penguin Observation Centre, is the West Park Oval. The park is home to the Burnie Dockers team in the Tasmanian State League (Australian Rules football). It’s also a venue for cycling, cricket and athletics. The Point’s indoor complex opened last year and has a function room, offices and corporate seating with magnificent views of both the sporting field and the sea.

Burnie Tasmania - The Point West Park
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The Point West Park: home of the Burnie Dockers

We mentioned another sporting triumph, the Burnie Tennis Club, in a previous article about the North West Coast. Following an upgrade to the centre court lighting and scoreboard, and resurfacing of all 16 courts, the facilities are now of international standard. The refurbishment and extensions to the club house are nothing short of brilliant.

And while elite level athletes are well catered for, leisurely recreation and families have not been forgotten. Views from The Point function centre extend over the Burnie Park. Landscaping combines bright flower gardens with established trees and a large expanse of lawn. The park is not far from the city centre, and features playground equipment and free barbecues.

Burnie Tasmania - Burnie Park
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North West Coast Tasmania: Burnie Park

The Factory Taste of Burnie Tasmania

To taste refreshments of a different sort, you can head to Hellyers Road Distillery for some whisky tasting. Not in Hellyers Road as you might expect from the name, but in Old Surrey Road, Burnie. Open seven days (excluding public holidays) from 10:00 until 4:30, there’s a cafe and gift shop on site. You can book tours of the distillery which include tastings of the whisky.

Burnie Tasmania - Hellyers Road Distillery
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Burnie Tasmania: Hellyers Road Distillery

Likewise, you can visit the Tasmanian Cheese Tasting Centre, also in Old Surrey Road. Using the premium milk produced in the north west of Tasmania, the factory churns out a range of products. In addition to the free samples, the factory outlet sells odd-shaped seconds (and perfectly ripe, top-quality!) cheese to the public.

Burnie Tasmania - Tasmanian Cheese Tasting Centre
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Tasmanian Cheese Tasting Centre in Burnie

From Burnie to Cooee

Improvements to the town’s facilities benefit both tourists on holiday and locals. Burnie has recently unveiled a brand new walking and cycling track along the beautiful coastline. Connecting the boardwalk near the penguins, pedestrians now have a safe and flat link from Emu River to Cooee.

Burnie Tasmania - Beach Boardwalk
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Boardwalk along the beachfront in Burnie

The walkway was actually very convenient for us. During our visit, we stayed in cabin accommodation on the beach at Cooee. Apart from the freezing temperature of the supposedly heated pool, we didn’t have any complaints. The cabins were neat, tidy and the place was pretty quiet; except for some crowing roosters in the mornings.

Seems like everyone is crowing about the new and improved version of Burnie Tasmania!

Burnie Tasmania - Cabin Accommodation
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Cabin accommodation in Burnie Tasmania

For more information, visit the Discover Burnie Tasmania website.

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Map of Burnie Tasmania…