Stanley and Northwest Tasmania
It is the colour of the earth and the brilliant green of the grass that will astound you. As you drive westwards from Burnie and Table Cape, the blues and grays of Bass Strait contrast sharply with the chocolate colour of the plowed fields and emerald green of the grass and the crops as the farmland rolls away to the wild bush further inland. This is an amazing part of the world.
The township of Stanley was opened as a port in 1827, only a year after the arrival of the first settlers from England as employees of the Van Diemen's Land Company. Overshadowed by the bulk of "The Nut" (an old volcanic plug), Stanley has operated as a port since 1826, first as a whaling haven, then as a base for supply ships for the Victorian Goldrush, then as an export port for fish. Many of the historic buildings have been restored and the town has much of the flavour of the early whaling days.
The 110 Meter (350 feet) high Nut can be reached by chairlift or by a walking track. The views of Bass Strait and the surrounding countryside from the top of The Nut make the trip to the top well worth it.
Stanley has always been linked to the fishing industry and the sea. Some of the best and freshest fish and seafood in Tasmania can be found here. If you want fresh, try Hursey Seafoods - Cafe and Licensed Restaurant. As you drive to the end of Alexander Terrace, watch out for the Giant Crayfish on the roof of Hursey Seafoods, home base for one of Tasmania's best known fishing families. While it is a fish processing factory out back, it features a cafe style eatery that serves fresh fish and seafood 7 days a week. The upstairs section offers a view out over the town green.
See Stanley from the water with Stanley Seal Cruises and Fishing Charters
While nothing in nature is ever guaranteed, Stanley Seal Cruises say that since 2000, when they first started operating, they always see Australian Fur Seals.
The 70-minute cruise on the motor cruiser, "Sylvia C", takes you one kilometre offshore to Bull Rock. Australian Fur Seals use Bull Rock as their haul-out or "vacation" rock in seal terms. They rest, lie in the sun, feed and enjoy themselves. The bull seals vary in size from 200 to 350 kilos, while the females are around 180 to 200 kilos. You can see anywhere from 50 to 500 seals - bulls, females and juveniles. Bull Rock is also popular with sea birds, including the Black-faced Cormorant, Oystercatchers and Pacific Gulls.
Because it is not a breeding ground, the boat can be up to two metres from the Rock and curious seals come over to inspect the visitors onboard - so there are lots of chances for photographers to get the perfect shot. You also get the unique opportunity to see The Nut from the ocean along with spectacular views of the coastline. Make sure you dress warmly and wear sensible shoes.
Dip Falls - Near Stanley
Just a 40 minute drive from Stanley, the Dip River Forest Reserve is well worth a visit. The road is sealed for most of its 26 Km (16 mile) length from the turnoff on the A2 road. Watch for the turnoff inland showing the way to Dip Falls and Mawbanna just past Port Latta as you drive towards Stanley, and just past Black River as you drive from Arthur River, Smithton or Stanley. Dip Falls is 42 Km (25 miles) from Stanley.
There is an information booth at the parking area at the Falls, and it is just a short walk over the road bridge to the viewing platform. The view is breathtaking, and Dip Falls are spectacular, especially after a heavy rain. The water crashes over hexagonal basalt columns, formed by cooling volcanic rock - at times the water seems to bounce from column to column, making this one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Tasmania.
From the parking area, a path also leads to the base of the falls. It is quite a scramble through the bush, but the view looking back and upwards gives the walk a huge payoff.
The Big Tree is another kilometre further on and provides a chance to get up close to this 62 Meter (203 Ft) tall Eucalyptus. Take a walk around the 17 Meter (55 Ft) base of the tree on the well maintained boardwalk and feel the quiet of the Tasmanian bush.
Destinations in Tasmania