Naomi has had a friend staying with her and last weekend she wanted to show him another part of Tasmania that he hasn’t seen before so we went for a drive to Stanley.
The weather started out great, one of those bright sunny winter days we sometimes get. We left mid morning and decided to stop for an early lunch at our favourite cafe cum antique shop at Sisters Creek. “Cuppa, Cake and Collectables”. I must write a post about it one day. After that we drove down to Smithton for a quick tour before heading back to Stanley.
I’ve visited Stanley a few times in the past, once with David and two or three times with Naomi. I’ve never been there on a sunny day. In fact most times that I’ve visited Stanley it has rained. I swear that the town has a permanent cloud hovering over it. While we were in Smithton we noticed that it was clouding over and by the time we reached Stanley it was dull and grey and the temperature was dropping. Fortunately the rain did stay away though.
A lot of people I chat to at the visitor centre are headed for Stanley. It is about 60 kms west of Wynyard nestled at the foot of a large basalt hill known to everyone as “The Nut”. The Nut, which is 143 metres high, was once the core of a volcano, now long extinct. The area is a state conservation area managed by the Parks & Wildlife Service. It is a breeding area for birds, including Little Penguins which are fairly common on the northwest coast of Tasmania. There are also protected plants and sites of significance to the aboriginal community. The summit is reachable by a walking trail but there is also a chairlift which operates in fine weather. I was surprised to see it operating the day we were there as they had just sent a notice to the visitor centre saying that they were closing down for the winter. It was a long weekend though. We have not been to the summit yet due to it always being terrible weather when we go to Stanley. I’m told the views are excellent though so I hope to do it one day although I am not sure I’d be brave enough to ride the chairlift.
The town of Stanley is very pretty with a main street of old buildings, some dating from the early days of the settlement. The first Europeans came to the area in 1826. Stanley was mainly a fishing village and there are still fishing boats at the wharf and both Stanley and Smithton have fish processing facilities. However, tourism is taking over in Stanley and many of the old buildings now house B&B’s, cafes and galleries or upmarket shops.
The Ship Inn is one of the old buildings that has been restored on the outside and renovated as luxury accomodation by the owners. In the article I read about that one of them said that when he first came to Stanley it reminded him of the Isle of Skye in Scotland where he had spent some of his childhood. I can relate to that as parts of Tasmania often make me think of Scotland too.
The other thing that Stanley is known for is being the birthplace of the only Tasmanian born Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons (1932-39). The cottage is now a museum which I have yet to visit. The front door was sporting a sign saying “Closed for winter.” when we were there.
There are a couple of nice old church buildings in Stanley too. One of them has a museum in what was probably once the church hall. It wasn’t open but we’ll try and visit again in the spring to see it as we like looking at old photos of places.
This is the “Star of the Sea” Roman Catholic Church. Apparently this is the third church to be built on this site. Some sources said that this building was commenced in 1897 and completed the following year. However, further reading showed that that building was demolished in 1930 to make way for the current building. That makes more sense to me because when we were looking at the outside of the building I commented that I thought it looked like a 1920s or 30s building. Here is an article I found about it.
The nearby cemetery is much older. We walked around looking at the gravestones. It is always sad to see the graves of young children and adults who died at an early age. I wonder what happened to them? Life in an isolated village must have been hard. It would have taken a long time to transport a patient to a bigger town for medical treatment.
By this time it was getting quite chilly and we started to walk back along the coastal path towards where we had left the car. This is Godfrey’s Beach.
Here are a few more images of Stanley, a couple were taken on an earlier visit, and an interesting blog post I found with more photos and information.
Stanley is less than an hour’s drive from our house so I’m sure we’ll go back another day to visit the museums and have another look round. Maybe it will even be sunny.