Stanley is a picturesque town on the north-west coast of Tasmania. It lies on a parcel of land that sits sort of like an island in the Bass Strait surrounded almost entirely by water except for a narrow section where it joins the island that is Tasmania. We fell immediately in love with this beautiful sea side town with its stunning beaches, lovely seaside homes and its variety of things to see and do. Initally we went to Stanley for a day visit but loved it so much we returned a few days later (after doing the Tarkine Drive) and stayed for two nights.
Stanley has a lot to offer everyone including anyone who like us are traveling on a strict or tight budget. Here’s what we did:
The Nut is a volcanic plug 143m high and is very noticeable on the landscape. It sits overlooking Stanley and the Bass Strait with breathtaking views from every side from the plateau on its top.
There are two options for going up and or down The Nut – walk or take the chairlift. The walking trail is 430m up a very very steep pathway that is achievable but gets the heart pumping. We walked as yes $20-30 would have been a fair bit of our budget but mainly we walked because it’s what we prefer to do, gives us a sense of achievement and that we have had a more authentic experience.
Once on the top there is a well marked and easy path that loops around with a number of lookouts giving views of the sea and land below. Whatever way you chose to get to the top it is worth it for the views. The walk around the top takes about 30 mins with stops for admiring the views and taking photos.
Cost: Free to walk; or Chairlift (Jan 2018): Adult $10 one way or $15 return; Child $5 one way or $10 return.
Dogs: The Nut is a National Park so dogs (or pets) are not permitted. Chika waited in our car in the carpark.
The wharf can be seen from The Nut and sits at the base of it on the east side. Some areas of the wharf have operating businesses which are clearly signed and fenced off. There is also an older wooden pier which is closed to the public due to safety. Otherwise the area is open to the public to explore and fishing is very popular. Daryl tried his luck fishing off the concrete wharf and despite following the advice of locals to use raw chicken he was unsuccessful.
Stanley Golf Club
The course at Stanley is a picturesque links style nine hole course. The club is made up of a group of like minded locals with a passion for golf. The dozen or so I met the day I played made me feel at home. The course itself consists of one par five, four par fours and four par three holes and is relatively short by todays standards but will usually play much tougher than its rating due to the winds. The day I played a 30 knott wind was considered a “stiff breeze” by the locals. Despite being maintained by a one man volunteer green staff the course is well presented and for such a small club with volunteer staff the greens were exceptional. The club has a relaxed dress code and welcomes visitors wether golfers or not. At $15 a round/day or $50 for the week for social golf and with competition rounds from $6 to $10 Stanley Golf is definately worth a visit.
Church Street is lined with cafes, chocolate shops, the Stanley Pub and the like. On one side of the street The Nut is literally the backdrop and the whole effect is stunning. Take the time to meander along this road to see the original buildings of the area, all maintained to an exceedingly high standard.
Daryl and I treated ourselves to a double scoop ice-cream each from the Stanley Bakery costing $7 each. I recommend the Apricot Sorbet.
Cost: Free unless you chose to make a purchase
Dogs: Permitted on a lead. A few of the cafes have bowls of water out for dogs to drink.
Godfrey’s Beach lies on west side of The Nut. We discovered at low tide it has a wide expanse of beach which Chika loved to run around on. The day and time we visited the water was crystal clear and seas were calm. Daryl went for a swim but it was too cold for me.
Whether you swim or not, hours can be spent at this beach on a nice day. Sit, read, walk, play beach games and or have a picnic.
There are signs up warning of dangerous sea conditions and the beach was not patrolled by Life Guards so be careful when in the water.
Dogs: During Summer months are permitted on leash
East Inlet Track, Gulliver’s Rest
The East Inlet is easily accessible with a 4×4 vehicle via a short track at Gullivers Rest estate off the Staney Highway a couple minutes drive from the town itself. If you don’t have a 4×4 parking is available at Gullivers Rest and you can access the inlet on foot. Its a great place to fish for flat head. Either at high tide but especially low tide the East Inlet area of Sawyers Bay is nothing less than brilliant. Well I love it. The sand and water literally goes beyond where the eye can see. It is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, walking, bird watching, four wheel driving and exploring. If you do nothing else in Stanley go to the East Inlet at low tide, it will not disappoint.
Dogs: No signs stating dogs are not permitted. It is a very popular spot for people with dogs.
Stanley Burial Ground
The Stanley Burial Ground lies between The Nut and Godfrey’s Beach. It is a small cemetery with historical graves including the pioneers and settler families from the area. It is an interesting place to visit and read some of the old headstones.
Dogs: No signs dogs were not permitted so we allowed Chika to walk around with us. Be respectful and clean up after your dog if necessary.
Fairy (Little) Penguins
Stanley has a small colony of Fairy Penguins (or Little Penguins) that nest between the cemetery and the eastern end of Godfrey’s Beach. There is an area which is fenced off and within that fenced area is a grass area for viewing the penguins as they return from sea after last light. Someone is kind enough to put the time on the gate as to what time the penguins are expected to return, it was 9.40pm on the night we went.
The penguins are assuming and delightful to watch as they make their way up the rocks. To view the penguins, you will need a red-light torch or a torch with red cellophane over the light because white light is no good for their eye and disorientates them.
We were disappointed and disturbed to see a big ginger cat in amongst the penguins nesting ground. It took off when we scared it but undoubtedly it would return and what hope does a penguin have against a cat?
Dogs: Dogs are prohibited always as during the day there are often nesting or baby penguins in nests.
Stanley Heritage Self-Guided Walk
Stanley has many historical sites and the self-guided tour takes you to fifteen of these. There is a map of the self-guided walk and each site has plague explaining the sites significance and history. The Circular Head Tourism Association (CHTA) has also developed an interactive version of the tour which can be accessed from a smart phone. The self-guided walk takes about an hour to complete and includes Church St and the Burial Grounds.
Map of the walk can be found at stanleyheritagewalk.com.au
Dogs: Walk on a lead and clean up after your dog where necessary.
West Inlet Track
The West Inlet Track off the Stanley Hwy is another short track which takes you to the West Inlet Conservation Area. We only briefly checked this area out but have heard from locals that it is a very popular fishing spot in Stanley.
Tatlows Beach is right in town and is part of Sawyers Bay. It is a lovely sheltered beach great for walking along. It is unpatrolled beach.
Dogs: Dog off leash and swim area.
Other Things to Do in Stanley:
These are the other activities in Stanley that we did not get to do that may be of interest.
Stanley Discovery Museum
The Discovery Museum is on Church Street. Their sign says they have photographs from 1858, marine history and relics, mineral and shell displays, education history and local family history. The museum was closed the day we were in Stanley but with a small entry fee it would be well worth a look for anyone interested in the history of the area.
Cost: Adult $3; Child 50c
Dogs: Not permitted in the museum but there is plenty of shaded grass area to leave your fur child tethered.
There are a number of parks in and around Stanley. There is a lovely park situated between The Nut and Godfrey’s Beach which has a playground, BBQs, picnic tables and toilets that .
Dogs: Unable to state if dogs are permitted or not.
Stanley Seaquarium boasts having seahorses, octopus, giant crabs, crayfish and many kinds of fish to see. Daryl and I did not go as it is not our thing, we much pefer to see sea life in its natural environment with our snorkels and masks. This would likely be hit with children.
More information can be found on the Stanley Seaquarium website
Cost: Adult $6; Child $4; and Family $15
Dogs: Dogs are not permitted
Highfield House is a historic site built between 1832 to 1835. The Estate is now owned by the Tasmanian State Government and the homestead has been restored to an exceptional standard. Self guided or coach tours are now available, please see their website for more details.
Cost: Adult $12; Child $10; or Family $30
Dogs: Assumed to be not permitted
Where We Stayed
Next to Stanley Golf Club is a low cost RV campsite overlooking Tatlows Beach and Sawyer Bay. There are no facilities however you are right in town and it is well the $8 per night. The money collected is put back into the local community.
Whatever it is you decide to do Stanley, it is sure to impress.