Stanley, home of the distinctive landmark called The Nut, is a Tasmanian town we happen to love. Okay, so there’s nothing new there, we love a lot of places! There are great articles waiting to be published about every nook and cranny of the state. We just need to visit in person to investigate and discover the real deal. And that’s exactly what we did when we took a trip to the north western edge of the island.
After turning north from the Bass Highway, and just before you arrive at the actual township of Stanley, there’s a roadside information board (on Stanley Highway) showing the features of the town. It’s fair to say the whole town is dominated by The Nut, an ancient volcanic plug with a large, flatish top.
We followed the signs to the lookout over the town (via Dovecote Road) to see what we could see. And from that very first vantage point, we realised the scenery in every direction was exemplary.
From the lookout, it’s clear the surrounding region is Tasmanian farming country. That’s not surprising really, given north west Tasmania is well-known for fresh produce. Cows were grazing in the paddocks, watched ever-so-closely by a lone bull. The poor bloke couldn’t take his eyes off the ladies, no matter how hard we tried to attract his attention!
Leaving the bull behind, we drove back towards Stanley and The Nut via Green Hills Road. We passed historic Highfield House, which is managed by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. A small mob of sheep was also using the road, not an uncommon thing to see in Tasmania.
The ruins of convict barracks (circa 1834) near Highfield House appeared very photogenic; we would have loved to jump the fence for a better look. But we have it on good authority that people have been zapped by an electric fence in that very location, so we refrained. And it didn’t matter really, because we took hundreds of snapshots throughout the day… without any risk of electrocution!
The Nut State Reserve: Chairlift or Zig Zag Track?
Our number one mission in Stanley was to arrive at the top of The Nut. We weren’t sure whether that would be via the Zig Zag track or the chairlift. A sign provided for visitors to The Nut State Reserve advises that the Zig Zag track is a “steep and strenuous climb” and that the chairlift doesn’t operate in extremely high winds. A return trip on the chairlift will set a family back $30-00.
We took all this information into account. The weather was magnificent (no high winds to contend with), so we chose the chairlift this time. Maybe we’ll take the Zig Zag track next time. We’ll be fitter by then…?
Compared to a hair-raising chairlift in the snow-fields of Sweden experienced many, many years ago, this version was child’s play. It was quite easy to embark on the journey, with an attendant on hand, and equally straight forward to exit at the top of The Nut. The chairlift offered a really smooth ride; perfect for taking in the surrounding scenery and for taking more photos. Which we did, of course!
Once at the top of The Nut, there’s a number of options for walking. We chose to circumnavigate the plateau (reputedly dubbed Circular Head by explorers Bass and Flinders in 1798) in an anti-clockwise direction, which took about an hour or so. There’s lots of seating and many lookouts with information provided along the way. The views over Stanley and the surrounding district are nothing short of magnificent.
From the top of The Nut, visitors can plan other things to do in Stanley. Janette Bishop of Beachside Retreat at West Inlet counts Stanley Seal Cruises in her top five must see attractions. Leaving from the pontoon at the fisherman’s dock, you can take a 75-minute cruise to see the protected Australian fur seal. Just one of the many reasons we want to return to visit Stanley again.
Once safely back at the base of The Nut, we did a little ground-level exploring of Stanley. The kids took a quick dip at the town beach near King Park, and we managed an inspection of Church Street. A great variety of cafes, gift shops and galleries line the street, with historic houses, pubs and seafood outlets offering further interest. You can read more about our experience of shopping in Stanley.
Of course we had to sample the food in town (research people!!) and we had a delicious lunch at Touchwood Cottages and Craft Gallery. The standout dish was seafood chowder; the Tasmanian fishing village certainly lived up to our expectations in that department. The most ginormous scones with berry jam and cream also went down an absolute treat.
Reading all this back just now makes us keen to visit the north west region again… soon! We don’t play favourites, but we do love Stanley. Did we say that already?
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