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 to 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. Initially 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 budget travellers like us.
What to do in Stanley
The Nut, very distinctive on the Stanley landscape is a volcanic plug standing 143 metres high. It sits overlooking Stanley and the Bass Strait and has breathtaking views from every side of its top plateau.
There are two options for going up and or down The Nut – walk or take the chairlift. The walking trail is 430 metres up a very very steep pathway which is achievable but gets the heart pumping. The Chairlift at the time we were there cost $10 one way and $15 return per adult. As budget travellers and to get the more authentic experience we walked. I am sure our health was better for it too.
Once on the top we found a well marked and easy (flat) path that follows a loop around the top. There are 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 car park.
The wharf is found on the east side of The Nut. 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.
Dogs: Dog friendly
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 Daryl met on the day he played were very friendly and welcoming.
The course itself consists of one par five, four par fours and four par three holes and is relatively short by today’s standards but will usually play much tougher than its rating due to the winds. The day Daryl played a 30 knots 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 whether golfers or not. Stanley Golf Club is definitely worth a visit.
Cost: (Jan 2018) $15 a round/day; $50/week for social golf; Comps $6 to $10
Dogs: Not permitted
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 effect is stunning. Take the time to meander along this road to see the original buildings of the area, all are 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 the 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 dogs are permitted on a leash
East Inlet Track, Gullivers Rest
The East Inlet is easily accessible with a 4WD via a short track at Gullivers Rest estate, off the Stanley Highway a couple minutes drive out of town. If you don’t have a 4WD parking is available at Gullivers Rest and you can access the inlet on foot.
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. It also apparently a great place to fish for flat head especially at low tide.
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 is fenced off and within the 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 each day, it was 9:40 pm on the night we went.
To view the penguins, you will need a red-light torch or a torch with red cellophane over the light. This is because white light is no good for their eye and disorientates them. The penguins are amusing and delightful to watch as they make their way up the rocks back to their nesting burrows. It is also possible to see penguins in these burrows during the day awaiting their parents or partners return from a day of fishing.
Sadly we saw a big ginger cat in the penguins nesting areas. 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 at all times
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 Highway 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 not a patrolled beach. Chika loved it here as she was permitted to be off leash.
Dogs: Dog off leash and swim area.
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 a shaded grass area to leave your dog 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: Not known
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. The money collected is put back into the local community.
Cost: (Jan 2018) $8 per night
Dogs: Dog friendly campground
Whatever it is you decide to do Stanley, it is sure to impress.
Originally written and published: 15 January 2018
Edited and republished: 12 December 2019