Janette and Chris Bishop own Beachside Retreat West Inlet (luxury accommodation in Stanley). Think Tasmania was invited to stay at their property to experience some of what the coastal town had to offer. And then of course, to share that experience with our readers. Janette wrote this additional article at our request. We thought readers looking to discover north west Tasmania might appreciate an insight into things to do in Stanley written by a long-term local with expert knowledge of the region.
Five Top Things To Do In Stanley
Words by Janette Bishop and Photos by Dan Fellow
The Nut Chairlift and State Reserve
The Nut is a 152 metre high geological feature, the core of an extinct volcano, looming above the village of Stanley and can be seen from many kilometres away. At the top there are superb views over the town and Bass Strait, so if you are a keen photographer, choose the perfect weather for your pics. There is a circular walk around the top, with a number of recently constructed viewing platforms. The mostly boardwalk track is nearly two kilometres long and is maintained by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife, the owners of the reserve. There is a sheltered gully which provides welcome relief from the strong winds and where you will spy the resident wallabies. Access to the top is via the all-weather steep, zigzag pathway, which takes approximately 15 minutes; or the chairlift for the not so fit. Definitely one of the most popular things to do in Stanley.
Highfield Historic Site
A visit to Stanley is not complete without a visit to Highfield House, the original headquarters of the Van Diemen’s Land Company and home of Edward Curr, the manager for many years. The homestead sits on the hillside overlooking the township, with views over rolling farmland, the Nut and Bass Strait. As the property is of historic significance to the north west coast and Circular Head in particular, restoration has been in place for many years and is a credit to the Parks and Wildlife Department and the committee, made up of local residents, who operate the site. Opening times are from 10:00am until 4:00pm daily from September to May; and only Monday to Friday from 10:00am until 4:00pm from June to August.
This tiny cottage, which is open to the public, was the home of Tasmania’s only prime minister, Joseph Aloysius Lyons, who was born in Stanley in 1879. He was a teacher, turned politician and in 1923 was elected State Premier. In 1928 he moved to Canberra, where he held a number of offices before resigning from the ministry in 1931. Two months later, “Honest Joe” as he was known, was leader of a new movement, the United Australia Party, and within nine months he was Prime Minister. The cottage, which was home to Joe and his wife Enid, has been restored by the National Trust and is open daily from 10:00am to 4:00pm, 1st September to 31st May. Entry is by donation.
Stanley Discovery Museum and Genealogy Centre
Located in the disused Parish Hall of St Paul’s Church, the Discovery Museum was established in 1973 as an historic centre to take you on a journey into Stanley’s past, with relics, antiques, memorabilia, photographs and documents of the town, with the genealogy section added in 2004. Situated in Church Street, the main street of Stanley, it is open daily from September to June and closed during July and August. It is a good place to while-away the time if you’re looking for things to do in Stanley on a rainy day.
Darryl and Heather Stafford offer cruises aboard the 12 metre ‘Sylvia C’ to view the protected Australian fur seal. Leaving from the pontoon at the fisherman’s dock, the 75 minute cruise takes in spectacular views of the Stanley Nut, the township, the old pioneer cemetery and Godfrey’s Beach. Bull Rock, a non-breeding ground or haul-out is 600 metres offshore. Here, up to 500 seals bask in the sunshine or frolic playfully in the crystal-clear waters of Bass Strait. For further details telephone 0419550134 or 64581294 to make a booking.
So Many Other Things to Do in Stanley
The Stanley Sea Aquarium, next to the Seal Cruise Cafe has a ‘touchy feely’ pool for the youngsters and some interesting exhibits. If you like wild oysters, you can pick your own at West Inlet beach or if you are also keen birdwatchers and staying at Beachside Retreat West Inlet, your hosts Janette and Chris can supply you with both oyster buckets and shucking knives, as well as a bird watching deck, complete with scope and bird inventory. They also have 4WD tours into the Tarkine with their 7-seater Land Rover (phone 6458 1350).
Penguin tours, mutton bird (Shearwater) watching on the Nut, fishing from the wharf; activities are numerous. You can even try kayaking on East Inlet beach at the weekend, for free! Stanley also has a very challenging 9 hole links golf course, with club hire, if golf is your thing.
If you are feeling hungry and looking for a delicious evening meal then the Brasserie at Xanders (phone 6458 1222), in the main street, is the perfect place; but don’t forget to book… it is very popular. There are also numerous other places to eat, including the award-winning Stanley Hotel, which does an excellent counter meal.
There are things to do in Stanley for everyone, so be sure to visit.
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