Paul Fleming recommends Stanley for the perfect weekend escape! Arguably one of Tasmania's most picturesque towns, Stanley is the perfect weekend escape. Situated on a narrow peninsula on the north west tip of the island, the area was settled in the early 1800's and is home to the famous Van Diemen's Land Company.
Stanley is also the latest Tasmanian location to star on global cinema screens with the release of the romantic period-drama ‘The Light Between Oceans’. Starring Hollywood royalty Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz, as well as Australian big-screen icons Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson, the film follows the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who rescue and adopt an infant girl adrift at sea, only to eventually discover her true parentage.
Keen for some location spotting? Take a wander down Church Street.; Stanley has one of the prettiest streetscapes, all tucked under the protective shadow of The Nut – a volcanic relic 150m high that dominates the landscape. The tiny cottages are a mixture of cafes, craft stores, homes and B&B’s, creating a charming village atmosphere. The oldest home in town, Touchwood Cottage (1840), is built from bluestone that came from England as ship ballast.
If working off your breakfast is next on your agenda, why not head to the top of The Nut and take in the spectacular 360 views across the town, rich green pastures and the sparkling Bass Strait. The walking path is steep but the views are wonderfully rewarding.
With the sun lower in the sky at this time of year, it is perfect for meandering your way along the rocky coastline in the golden glow of Tasmania’s famously soft light. Imagine playing a round of golf with The Nut as your backdrop, or take a gander at Joe Lyons’ Cottage – the historic home of Tasmania’s only Prime Minister, elected in 1931. Enjoy the self-guided Stanley Heritage Walk on your internet-enabled device or pick up a hard-copy map at the Visitor Centre.
Stanley is heritage-rich, starting with the indigenous peoples who remained after sea levels rose and separated Tasmania from the Australian mainland. Their stories can still be found in the landscape, especially as you head further into the nearby Tarkine region or along the coast at Rocky Cape National Park.
The Van Diemen’s Land Company, formed by wealthy Londoners to exploit the lucrative merino wool boom however unfavourable land and political changes saw a gradual shift to dairying. Highfield House, sitting high on a knoll overlooking the town, was home to Edward Curr, chief agent of the VDL Company, and provides a snapshot of an era long past.
Some of the region’s smallest inhabitants can be found along the coast, if you tread carefully and quietly. Little Penguins have colonies right along the northern coast of Tasmania, and around Stanley is no different.
You’ve seen The Nut from land, from its top and from the water – but there’s no perspective like that from the air. For the most inspiring way to see the north west, climb into the cabin of one of Osborne Aviation’s helicopters. The tidal zones are pure artistry, with veins of waterways sweeping through the landscape. Anthony Beach in Parsons Bay offers a WOW moment, and as you pass over Stanley and Bass Strait islands you’ll start to get a sense of the wild and rugged nature of this corner of Tasmania.