16 July, 2021

Everything you need to know about Stanley

Stanley has to be one of Tassie’s most loved little towns… and it’s easy to see why. Come with us as we discover what to see, eat and do and where to stay and play in Tassie’s Top Tourism Town of 2021.

A 90-minute drive from Spirit’s Devonport home, Stanley juts out into Bass Strait, anchored by a mighty rock that signals your arrival in the island’s wild, wild west. Be prepared to fall in love with this charming seaside village, a marvellous mix of heritage and nature.

The Nut Chairlift. Photo: Lusy Productions.

What to see and do

You literally can’t miss the Nut. This 143-metre-high volcanic plug is the hero of Stanley’s picture-perfect vistas, and a lookout with 360-degree views far out to sea and down onto the town’s historic buildings. One of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks leads to the top, or take it easy with the scenic chairlift. Look up at the Nut’s sheer cliffs with Stanley Seal Cruises (you might see whales and mutton birds too), or get a bird’s-eye view with Osborne Helitours.

Originally Circular Head, as explorers Bass and Flinders called the Nut in 1798, the town was later named after British statesman Lord Stanley when the Van Dieman’s Land Company arrived. Discover buildings from the settlement’s early years on the self-guided Stanley Heritage Walk.

Stanley’s heritage highlight is the Highfield Historic Site, built in the 1820s and 30s for the company’s chief agent. Explore his Georgian homestead and practical buildings like the convict barracks and stables – or spend the day at Highfield by booking a Provenance Kitchen cooking class, which concludes with a four-course meal.

Hursey Seafood. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Adrian Cook.

Where to eat and drink

Some old buildings have been converted into elegant heritage accommodation, shops and places of refreshment – like Tasmanian Wine and Food. This cosy wine bar in a Victorian cottage has eclectic decor from times past, top local drops and bites including cheese platters and pizza. The Stanley Hotel hasn’t strayed from its original purpose, having been continuously licensed since 1847. Have a drink at the bar – or by the fire on chilly days – and savour the bistro’s regional produce.

There’s more old-timey charm at The Speckled Hen Cafe, serving daytime delights including eggy breakfasts, pot pies and Devonshire teas. Book ahead for their fancy high tea.

Of course this fishing village has prime seafood, most famously at Hursey Seafoods. That’s the other thing you can’t miss in Stanley, because there’s a two-metre southern rock lobster perched on the roof. Enjoy the real thing and other local goodness like scallops and oysters at the restaurant, from the take-away counter, or fresh for accommodation cooking.

Providore 24. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett.

Where to shop

Looking for tasty Tasmanian souvenirs? Make a beeline for Providore 24, which specialises in local gourmet products including honey, cheese and wine – plus a nice sideline in handcrafted leather goods. Then buzz over to The Angel's Share, which focuses on the island’s beverages – including legendary whiskies – plus other Tassie treasures like jewellery and knitwear.

Cafe and craft gallery Touchwood offers locally made gifts and homewares including ceramics, timber and pewter products, while photographer David Murphy’s landscapes are Cow ‘n’ Calf Art Gallery’s drawcard.

Ship Inn. Photo: Marnie Hawson.

Where to stay

Those multi-tasking folk at the Stanley Hotel and Touchwood also offer accommodation, but the most coveted beds in town are probably at the Ship Inn. This pub built in 1849 was reborn as a boutique guesthouse in 2019. Rich with heritage charm and contemporary comforts, each of the suites and apartments has a story to tell.

Other period properties offering stylish accommodation include The Ark, but if you prefer modern style Horizon Deluxe Apartments is a top option. There’s three to choose from, each with a spa bath and cracking views of the Nut. Stanley Cabin and Tourist Park meets most travellers’ needs, whether you want to pitch a tent, park the caravan or kick back in a self-contained cabin. This property has everything you need, including laundry facilities and free barbecues.

The Nut. Photo: Jason Charles Hill.

What’s nearby?

Discover rockpools, sea caves and flowering natives in little Rocky Cape National Park, and explore the hinterland’s vast temperate rainforest. The Tarkine Drive tourist route reveals wonders in the wilderness including the natural Trowutta Arch, and Arthur River, the remote coastal town where a quaint cruise into the rainforest begins. Boat Harbour’s beach, widely considered one of Tasmania’s prettiest and most family friendly, is also nearby.

Planning a road trip? Stanley is one of the stops on our brand-new, five-day itinerary for nature lovers.


Information included in this blog is correct at the time of publishing. Please contact individual operators for further information.

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