Stanley is a sleepy town situated on the north-west coast of Tasmania. It has a handful of quaint hospitality venues and a wharf area, but the big attraction of Stanley is The Nut; an ancient volcanic plug with a 2 km path around the edges.
Last weekend, we loaded up the camping gear to take the 180mi/290km drive to Stanley from Hobart for a weekend getaway with nature, camping, and, of course, food!
Interested in taking a weekend getaway to Stanley? Be warned, it’s a lot of hours in the car, but completely doable! I’ve got you covered with a solid itinerary that’s rather ambitious, but quite rewarding.
8:30 am: Let the journey commence. See ya later Hobart!
Many many podcasts along switch back mountain roads later….
12:15pm: Stop 1: Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm
After scenic, long drive along switchback mountain roads in the Great Lake Region, we finally got to Elizabeth Town for our first stop: Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm.
Raspberry season has officially commenced in Tasmania (pretty shrew of me to be missing out on winter this year), and this farm is located on a gorgeous property featuring a lake, a nice outdoor seating space, and an expansive patch of raspberries. The venue was packed on the sunny, warm afternoon, so we got a container of raspberries to go and bolted when we learned there was no pick your own (AKA eat as much as you can) option.
12:40pm: Stop 2: Van Diemans Land Creamery
Right across from Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm is Van Diemans Land Creamery. While the larger building was closed for renovation, we couldn’t resist a couple scoops.
Van Diemens Land Creamery serves up wickedly fresh ice cream that makes it from the cow to consumer in under 24 hours. Its humble beginnings started on a Tasmania dairy farm 15 years ago where Paul Amourgis milked the cows and Jan Amourgis made the ice cream. They took their product across the state to various events to build their brand, and now you can get a scoop at various restaurants and delicatessen’s as well as at their brick and morter shops at the Hobart waterfront and Elizabeth Town.
Let me tell you, this ice cream is nothing short of perfection. It is unbelievably creamy with rich, complex flavors that are beautifully subtle without being overwhelmingly sweet.
12:45pm: Stop 3: Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory
The Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory serves up beautiful meat and cheese plates featuring fresh Tasmanian products. We sprung for a platter with food from the Northwest region. I had no idea what that meant, but Jeremy seemed to think it was the right call. The highlights included the feta in a chili oil, pickled fennel, hot mustard, and the smoked salmon with a ginseng rub. No meat and cheese platter is complete without wine, so we got a glass of subpar Riesling followed by a glass of exceptional Pinot Gris.
While the board was perfectly fine, was it worth $45AUD per person? Sadly, no. The two smoked sausages were average at best and the prosciutto was nothing to write home about. Not to mention, there was useless pile of greens in the middle that did nothing more than fill up space.
3:30: Stop 4: Boat Harbor Beach
We stretched out our legs while marveling at the outrageously blue water at Boat Harbor Beach. While you may hear “Australia” and think “beach”, the water off the coast of Tasmania is absolutely freezing. It’s nice to look at, but diving in without a wet suit is a bold move.
We weren’t anticipating the drive taking so long but we finally made it to Stanley a whopping 9 hours after leaving Hobart.
TIP: Albeit scenic, driving through the Great Lakes region tacks on a hefty amount of time to the journey.
We headed straight to The Nut and took the ridiculously steep 430 m track up to the top for stunning views of the little town below.
There are limited hospitality venues, but we popped into a local wine bar for a couple of glasses of vino, enjoying the sun that was still intense at 6:30 pm.
Time wasn’t on our side with sunset on the horizon, so we raced to the nearest grocery store in Smithton to get stuff for a fire along with marshmallows and Tim Tams (camping necessities) before racing to Black River Campsite to pitch the tent and get the fire going.
9pm: All Settled In
Nothing beats sitting next to a toasty warm campfire with good conversation and a bag full of marshmallows. Plus, we remembered the sleeping bag this go around….
7am: Let the Day Commence
We woke up, took down the tent, and packed up in a record 15 minutes before heading back into Stanley to do the full loop around The Nut. The prospect of tackling the steep incline without coffee seemed daunting, but hey, no pain no gain.
The loop around the Nut is lovely with stellar views and an interesting change in terrain across the 2 km. Plus, we saw a handful of pademelons, one of which was pregnant. The only drama was the intense wind on the northern side that just about knocked us over. Luckily, no valuables were lost!
8:30am: Breakfast: Leather and Wood Café
My caffeine headache was in full swing, and we ran into Leather and Wood Café for a couple couples and basic egg, bacon, and cheese roll. The coffee tasted like heaven, but the roll left something to be desired. The bacon (exactly what we call ham in the US) was far too fatty with no flavor, there was hardly any cheese, and the single fried egg got lost in between the thick bun.
Instead, we should have gone to Moby Dick’s breakfast bar, which was jammed full of locals enjoying eggs and pancakes. Well, you live and you learn! Hell, a trip to Macca’s would have even been better!
After taking a lap main street, we hopped back in the car to commence the 5hour drive ahead.
Our main pit stop was Ulverston, another pleasant north coast town.
We stopped in at the Cradle Coast Growers and Makers Market to listen to a live bluegrass band before getting coffee and pastries at Thirty Three Cups Café. The carrot cake was delightfully spicy with ample cinnamon and nutmeg, and the white chocolate strawberry bar was like eating a dense, delicious cookie dough bar. Perhaps not the healthiest source of sustenance, but at least it was delicious!
3pm: Back to Hobart
We powered through the drive to home to shower and change before heading to a Christmas party for Jeremy’s work.
Talk about a full weekend!
Taking an overnight trip to Stanley from Hobart is quite the trek, but it’s a fun adventure that’s certainly worth having. Tasmania may be small, but the terrain across the island diverse, and half of the fun on our long haul adventures is simply the journey. From driving through sleepy towns to halting to a stop as echidnas cross the road, our first camping trip to the northern coast of Tasmania was a wild success!
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