The hard-to-reach places or spots that require a longer drive usually are the hidden gems, and we found Stanley Tasmania to be no different.
Stanley has a permanent population of around 550. This quaint township in Tasmania’s north-west is the main fishing port in this part of Tasmania and is fast becoming a tourist destination for its well-preserved colonial buildings now converted to quaint B&Bs and the distinctive geological formation known as The Nut.
One half of the Travel Quandary was somewhat sceptical about this destination on our 17 days Tasmanian road trip itinerary. But, with some terrific weather conditions and a slower pace from our previous stops, the fewer things to do in Stanley Tasmania turned out to be the perfect pit stop that both of us needed and thoroughly enjoyed.
STANLEY TASMANIA | THINGS TO DO, FOOD, DAY TRIPS & ACCOMMODATION
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Climb The Nut
The unique geological formation that protrudes from the headland is the remains of a volcanic plug and one of Tasmania’s distinctive landmarks.
Visitors have the option to either catch the chairlift up to the circular walking trail (Single Adult trip $11, Return Adult Trip $17) or to walk up the very, very steep path from the carpark to the start of the walking trail. Be mindful that the chairlift does not operate during Winter.
From the top, there are sweeping views of Stanley township, Bass Strait and out towards Rocky Cape National Park. The trail is marked and undulates with the land. We recommend walking in a clockwise direction. Be sure to stay on the trail to not step on any moonbird nests or snakes. Keep an eye out for the moonbirds, pademelons and other wildlife.
Depending on your level of fitness and how long you choose to pause at each bend on the path, it takes about 10 – 30 minutes to climb the Nut to where the chairlifts exit at the top. Allow yourself around 1 – 2 hours to complete the loop.
Visit Highfield Historic Site
Highfield Historic Site is a beautifully restored historical representation of a gentleman’s house and farm from the 1830s. Perched on the hillside with views over Godfrey’s Beach and the Nut, Highfield Historic Site includes the elegant Regency house, convict barracks, stables and chapel surrounded by an immaculate ornamental garden.
Remnants, furniture and artefacts adorn the rooms which you are welcome to explore on a self guided tour. The site is open daily except for the winter months when it is closed on weekends. This expertly preserved site provides a wonderful glimpse into this corner of Van Diemen’s Land’s history.
Entrance fee is AUD $12 per adult.
For stunning introductory views of Stanley, pull into Trethewies Lookout on the west side of the Stanley Highway as you approach the Stanley Peninsula.
You’ll find the road to the car park just past the newly installed welcome stone sign. Locals and visitors have described this lookout as a fabulous spot to watch the sunset over Tatlows Beach whilst munching on a serve of fish and chips.
See Fairy Penguins from Godfrey’s Beach Penguin Viewing Platform
Penguin tours in Bicheno are well known and popular but it wasn’t until we arrived in Stanley that we discovered that Little Penguins (also known as Fairy Penguins) nest here too.
At the base of Eagle Rock and below Stanley Cemetery, the well-constructed penguin viewing platform allows visitors to observe the penguins at dusk, arriving back to their nests after a day out at sea.
There is a sign at the entrance of the viewing platform that outlines the yearly rhythm of the world’s smallest penguin breed. The small birds usually return home at nightfall with red lights helping to guide their path. Be patient, turn your camera off flash and pack a warm jacket – the wait is worth it and the viewing is free!
Day Trips From Stanley
Go hiking in Rocky Cape National Park
To get the blood pumping with some coastal walks or bushland traipsing, head out to Rocky Cape National Park for a day out in nature.
Depending on which section of the National Park you intend to explore, it is between 30 – 50 minutes drive from Stanley. Trails range from 20 minutes to 4 hours or 200m to 15 kilometres – this web page provides a great overview of the Rocky Cape National Park walks.
A valid National Parks Pass is required for entry – don’t forget to leave yours on your vehicle’s dashboard.
Head on a scenic drive towards Mawbanna where 40 minutes south of Stanley, you’ll reach Dip Falls. There is a viewing platform at the top, otherwise you can walk down the paved stairs approximately 200m to the bottom and admire the water thundering over the hexagonal basalt falls.
Stop in at Blue Hills Honey to learn all about the bees and the history of beekeeping in the district. You can stop in for morning tea or lunch at The Colony Cafe. If you have time, take the scenic drive through the rainforest to Trowutta Arch. This short walk from the carpark will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from Fern Gully.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Tasmanian Wine and Food (Stanley Wine Bar)
Hands down, this will be one of the quirkiest places you will visit in Tasmania – for all the right reasons.
Housed in an old sailor’s cottage, come into this wine bar where you will find an eclectic mix of vintage, retro and unique furniture and furnishings. Peruse the menu and select a tipple from the wide variety of wines, gins and whiskeys before making yourself cosy in one of the squishy lounges.
Tasmanian cheese platters and homemade pizzas are served on the menu if you’re feeling peckish. There’s plenty to look at and admire in this wine bar and for another chuckle, you’ll have to duck into the loo to find out for yourself.
Seasonal opening times apply so check Google or their Facebook page for the most up-to-date trading hours.
Given that Stanley is the main fishing port for north-west Tasmania, it’s no surprise that you’ll find a specialist seafood restaurant in town. You can visit Hursey Seafoods for lunch, late lunch, an afternoon snack or early dinner.
Grab a seafood pack and brave a bench seat by the water (the seagulls are plentiful and persistent) or book a table up at the restaurant.
Stanley Hotel Tasmania
The Stanley Hotel Bistro is the town’s central watering hole. Housed underneath Stanley Hotel & Apartments, guests can dine in the main restaurant or pull up a pew for a tipple in the bar.
There is plenty of seafood on the menu (we can recommend the abalone starter) plus pub favourites including chicken parmigiana and Cape Grim steak. Be sure to check out the specials board too as the menu will change with the seasons. Wash your meal down with a craft beer or a glass of Tasmania wine from the hotel’s historic wine cellar.
Reservations for lunch and dinner are required because the pub gets mighty busy, particularly on weekends and during peak season.
The Angel’s Share
Warning: A visit to The Angel’s Share could result in inebriation and unplanned purchases of quality Tasmanian products. In issuing this warning, it’s unlikely that you would regret either of these experiences anyway.
This bar / boutique stocks an extensive array of Tasmanian whiskeys, wine, beer and cider as well as coveted, luxurious knitwear, socks, beanies and scarves. Trading hours are limited to the afternoon and early evening and varies between the seasons so be sure to check in advance to avoid disappointment.
WHERE TO STAY
The Ship Inn Stanley
This unmissable yellow building is a beautiful 19th century inn, lovingly converted into boutique lodgings. Each suite or apartments has been artfully curated, with the decor paying homage to Tasmania’s seafaring and explorer history whilst ensuring that there are plenty of modern comforts too.
Guests are welcome to relax in the plush guest lounge or the beautiful English garden. Every aspect of this Stanley accommodation has a thrilling story behind it that in some ways, you’ll undoubtedly feel that your stay is being added to the pages of the inn’s history books.