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Stanley in the sunshine
Stanley in the sunshine
On the peninsula
Climbing the Nut


Thursday, November 6, 2003
Catriona is taking in the view from the top of the world where she just may be literally blown away.

Stanley is an historic town on a peninsula extending into Bass Strait and is the main fishing port on the north-west coast of Tasmania.

The history of Stanley is the history of the Van Diemen's Land company. In 1825 the company which was formed in England was granted the rights by Royal Charter to a huge tract of unsettled land to raise fine wool sheep in large quantities. Circular Head, commonly known as The Nut, was centre of operations. Development of the town was relatively slow. The port opened in 1827 and the first school wasn't opened until 1841.

The first European to spot the Nut was Matthew Flinders in 1798. His log reported a cliffy round lump resembling a Christmas cake. It is 13 million years old and was formed when lava shot from the earth's surface and cooled to form basalt. It rises more than 150 metres above Bass Strait and its top spans 35 hectares. It is sheer on three sides and sits on the end of a 7km isthmus.

It offered shelter from wind to Tasmanian Aboriginals and middens and piles of shells are traces of their presence. It was also a good place for them to transmit smoke signals to groups at Rocky Cape. During European settlement ships took shelter from prevailing winds in the harbour, formed naturally by the great, projecting rock.

The basalt weathers into excellent soil which gives intensive cultivation and fine, tall timbers. The rock was also valued in the construction of bluestone buildings. Two thousand people, mostly volunteers, have worked to remove weeds and restore original vegetation from seed collected from the remaining trees on the Nut. The site is home for migratory birds, including shearwaters, orange bellied parrots, kestrels, peregrine falcons, white goshawk, brown goshawk, brown falcons, southern boo book owls and at the base of The Nut, little penguins build burrows amongst the rocks.

For magnificent views, there is a chairlift to the top, but regardless of the weather, it's advisable to take warm clothing.

Touchwood Craft Gallery and Coffee Shop on Stanley's main street features fine Tasmanian timber products created by quality craftspersons. The focus is definitely on quality. The coffee area overlooks Sawyer Bay and their crayfish roll is the house specialty.

They appear 95 percent of the time, but due to an outbreak of devil disease, the population is falling.

Stanley has several B&Bs in town and we chose to stay at Beachside Retreat West Inlet. The beautiful 72 hectare farm just south of Stanley has an interesting history and the natural environs are fascinating. The rare striped marsh frog lives there, along with 200 species of birds including rare sea eagles and wedge tail eagles.

Hosts Janette and Chris Bishop will take guests on nature walks, spotlighting or picking oysters straight from the rocks.

They have two environmentally-friendly, one bedroom eco-cabins on a foreshore sand dune. External and internal architecture is quite stunning. The living room has a large porthole and local timbers, including salvaged Huon pine, are used throughout. Ensuite bathrooms have an underwater theme with cobbled beach stone floors. Decks provide uninterrupted ocean views. They are studio style and are perfect for singles or couples.

The five-star Lodge is a retreat for couples and families and is fully self-contained. There are three bedrooms set up for six people, a lounge, kitchen and spa bathroom. It has a large beach deck. There are additional disabled facilities in a separate amenities block. Tasmanian wines, smoked salmon, cheeses and fudges are stocked in the lodge.


The north-west tip of Tasmania


Beachside Retreat West Inlet rooms start at $158 per night and a breakfast basked is $20 a couple.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.

More information

Stanley Visitor Centre
Main Road Stanley 7331
Ph: (03) 6458 1330, Fax: (03) 6458 1267

Nut Chairlift & Information Centre
Browns Road Stanley 7331
Ph/Fax: (03) 6458 1286

Touchwood Craft Gallery & Coffee Shop
31 Church Street Stanley 7331
Ph/Fax: (03) 6458 1348

Beachside Retreat West Inlet
253 Stanley Highway Stanley 7331
Ph/Fax: (03) 6458 1350

Qantas: 13 13 13

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