If it wasn’t the sunrise that first stole our hearts as we arrived in Tasmania, or the friendly people we met on our first busy day here, then it was Stanley. We arrived in the tiny coastal town almost swept away by an on-shore wind beating against the car and the van as we drove, that brought with it dark clouds and the threat of heavy rain. Yet, Stanley shone it’s beauty as if the sun were glowing golden.
As with any new place, we had no idea what to expect, and my expectations and positivity had slightly plummeted in the early afternoon. “It’s a crap road” she told us, explaining that the road between Ulverstone and Stanley was one of the worst in the state. “Great” my expectations of a scenic afternoon drive plummeted and I braced myself for a horrific drive along the horrible road we had to face, before saying a sad goodby to Yoshi. There’s always a sense of heaviness when we leave our canine mate at a boarding kennel for the night. He knows what’s coming and immediately tugs at his leash in the opposite direction of the kennel, causing an instant sense of guilt. That added to the warning we’d been given about our afternoon road trip left me a bit edgy.
But the edginess didn’t last long. It was soon replaced by the ooh and ahh of a spectacular coastal view
We’d had a giggle during the day about being “Mainlanders”, a title we’d fast realised we’d be branded with as visitors to the island state. Locals had shared a friendly jest about our expectations compared to those who lived in Tassie, and the way visitors saw things from a mainland perspective. The expectation of road quality turned out to be one of those differences. Compared to many roads we’ve explored in our Australian travels, the road to Stanley is an easy drive and in good condition, with views that are definitely competition for the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.
Stanley greeted us with its most popular landmark; “The Nut”.
The distinctive landmark is high on the must-see list when you’re visiting Tasmania. The Nut is a volcanic plug, originally discovered by explorers Bass and Flinders in 1798, who at the time, named it Circular Head. Today, it dares visitors to climb it from top to bottom before undertaking the 2 kilometre walk at the top, where you’ll be rewarded with far reaching views of the turquoise waters surrounding Stanley.
While The Nut is definitely a defining feature of this beautiful little town, a strong sense of history is present as you wander the streets. Both historical stories of the fishing industry that still supports the town today, and streets lined with beautifully maintained buildings and cottages that greet you while you undertake the historical walk through the town. For something special, add in a trip to the historic Highfield House.
As if the beauty and history of Stanley wasn’t enough, here, you’ll experience an amazing night-life, although perhaps not the kind you’re used to. Once the sun sets, the Stanley coastline comes to life with penguins coming back into shore. We waited in the cold on-shore winds for quite a while before being rewarded with the beautiful sight of these small waddling birds.
For another wonderful after dark experience, the wharf provides lots of fun for the kids to do some squidding. With the beautiful fresh seafood for sale in town, even if you don’t have much luck catching your own, you can still be assured of tasting some of the freshest Tasmanian seafood available here.
Stanley is a small town, and yet it has so much to offer those willing to explore it’s history, and natural wonders. Don’t miss this gorgeous little village on your trip to Tassie, you could spend a day or a month and I still don’t think Stanley would lost its charm.