Stanley, Tasmania

Stanley 'Nut'

We took a few days out from our own waterside paradise at the East Coast’s Binalong Bay to visit the small town of Stanley on the north-west coast of Tasmania. The photos we had seen in all the tourism brochures of the famous landmark known as The Nut do not prepare you for the impact of this monolithic structure formed from volcanic matter. Aboriginal inhabitants named it Moo-Nut-Re-Ker but in the 1800’s sailors shortened the name to The Nut.

Stanley houses

Stanley’s domestic buildings are mostly cottages constructed in wood. The village instantly reminded me of New Zealand’s French/English fishing town of Akaroa on the south island. Akaroa is nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano so they also share a geological connection.

Some of the houses in Stanley are quite humble, many were constructed with only a single frontage. But today if you look further you will see at the back and sides they have been extended to accommodate contemporary living but they have retained their integrity as examples of the simple life in a fishing village.

Highfield history wall

On a different scale is the estate at Highfield. We visited the historic site and its formerly grand house situated high on a hill overlooking Stanley. Highfield was established by the Van Dieman’s Land Company as a wool producing estate, an ambitious enterprise that sadly was never to realise a profit.

Highfield side entrance and gardens

The house is now in the hands of Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service and in desperate need of a serious injection of funds for restoration. If the greater percentage of people who visit The Nut at Stanley also visited Highfield, then there would not be a paucity of funds to maintain and restore this important site. We were told by the attendant here that 30,000 people pay for a ride on Stanley’s chairlift each year but only 10,000 take the drive or walk up the hill to Highfield. It cost $10 per person for the chairlift and$10 per person for entry into Highfield. You can walk up to the top of The Nut for free. I paid for the chairlift to The Nut and for a visit to Highfield. John did the same but for some exercise each day went up to The Nut by foot. He said it took him around 6 minutes each way. But once you are up on top there is a walk you can take lasting around an hour and well worth the effort for the spectacular views.

@VDL Stanley

From the outside we liked the look of a small boutique hotel called @VDL Stanley. We met the owners and they told us that they had personally converted the derelict blue stone building that once housed the Van Dieman’s Land company store into a two suite luxury hotel. The same owners have more accommodation in the town on a slightly cheaper level and they now operate a stylish gift and homeware store in the main street –  worth visiting.

Meantime we were staying in self contained guest house accommodation that resembled my Scottish grandmother’s motley collection of antiques and bric a brac. The guest house owners provided fresh towels daily, a sumptuous welcome afternoon tea and enough food for cooked breakfasts each day. Apart from feeling like we were living in a museum for three days we were comfortable. No we were not in the church buildings below, we were in Touchwood, one of the cottages in the main street.

In a separate post I will tell you about our dinner at Xanders restaurant in the main street of Stanley. Roz

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  1. #1 by Louise on February 22, 2010 - 1:02 am

    Hi Roz
    we had a family holiday in Stanley some years ago now. In a week or so we were truly integrated into the village – and in tune with the locals! It is an amazing place for its ability to accommodate visitors in that way. Probably we were assisted by staying in cottages in the main street and traversing back and forward. We too enjoyed Highfield and did everything, including, like Johh, the walk up the Nut daily. thanks! Louise

    • #2 by tastetravel on February 22, 2010 - 4:04 am

      Hope it brought back good memories. Finding your story in a mag there is quite a coincidence.

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