North West Coast of Tasmania

Our trip to Tassie was fairly long, so I thought it best to break it up into sections. The north west coast of Tasmania was one of my favourite sections and I’d love to go back and explore more- especially as the weather wasn’t fantastic. It was driving out west on our first day, past gorgeous gardens and beach front shacks, that I first started looking up real estate knowing immediately I wanted to move here. I probably never will, but it was fun no doubt to dream about the opportunities this incredible coastline could offer us. There are so many quaint little villages to stop in along the way, not to mention the scenery that has you instantly wanting a sea change. Here was what we did, and what we’d recommend to do (or don’t do…)

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Straight off the Spirit of Tasmania at the crack of dawn, we spent out first day (technically) in Tasmania winding our way our west along the north coast of Tas. The weather wasn’t brilliant (think… well… rain) but we did get some patches of sun that seemed to burst at the right time. We skipped Penguin (and came back to it on our last day) but stopped at Wynyard and Table Cape Lighthouse. The scenery was quite dramatic with the dark clouds and sun, and I instantly fell in love with this area. We really just stopped for some photo opportunities and then moved on.

We continued west to Boat Harbour Beach where had an incredible breakfast at the local SLSC cafe and a play on the gorgeous beach there with a little of that sun (ok, it looks like a lot of sun but trust me when I say it wasn’t out long despite how it might seem!)

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We continued past Rocky Cape National Park as it was raining (though I can’t wait to go back) and actually ventured past our stop for the night as it was only 11am at this point, and along the way I made the call to stop in at Tarkine Forest Adventures (formerly known as Dismal swamp) which had the impressive description of the largest sinkhole in the southern hemisphere and boasted a 110m slide that wound its way through the trees and down to the bottom of the sinkhole. The inner child in me screamed yippee!! Because I clearly couldn’t contain my joy, I got to go down the slide and my husband walked down the bottom with the baby in tow. At the bottom of the sink hole was a labyrinth of confusing boardwalks that really went nowhere and the whole thing was actually a huge disappointment. From the hefty entrance fee (the slide only cost $2 a ride, but would want to after we just paid $40 to enter, and it was way too far to walk back up to take another 5 second ride down), to the staff throwing feed down to get the wallabies to come out (not exactly ‘natural’) I would recommend bypassing this completely. I’m a nature lover from way back, but I think the original name of Dismal Swamp was a much more telling indication and creator of expectations.

So, after our disappointment of the Tarkine Forest, we continued out to the far west coast to Marrawah and Mount Cameron West. The Lonely Planet promised arguably one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and 100’s of kilometres of Aboriginal living sites and rock carvings thousands of years old. Unfortunately, we couldn’t seem to find anyone to ask permission from (or even anyone in general- in fact there really wasn’t anything or anyone in Marrawah) as the LP didn’t tell you really where to go to access the Preminghana Indigenous Protected Area, so we drove to a lookout which we presumed was Mount Cameron West (the only place we could seemingly go in our 2 wheel drive), admired the incredibly rugged coastline, as you’d imagine and then drove back to Stanley where we stayed in the caravan park arriving about 2pm.

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The weather that afternoon was slightly favourable so we decided to summit ‘The Nut’ and not risk waiting until the following day (a good choice as it was raining the next day. One thing I learnt in Tassie- if the weather is good, do it, because you have no idea what the next few hours will bring- let alone the next day!) Everyone in Tasmania seems to have heard of the ‘Nut’, and I told my husband we could get a chairlift up there (he’s not the world’s biggest lover of walks) but unfortunately it was closed due to high winds! So, we trekked up the track that was 45 degrees steep- and I mean seriously steep, like, you won’t get off your tippy-toes steep, for roughly 45 minutes, with some pretty impressive views of the surrounding country side, and then somehow I convinced him we were going to do the circuit route up top. It took maybe less than an hour to walk around the top of the ‘Nut’ as we ambled along, and then we made the perilous descent down. It ended up being one of our highlights and Stanley itself I absolutely gorgeous. A quaint old town with seriously cute buildings (they actually filmed ‘The Light Between Oceans’ here- terrible movie, brilliant book, and the pub that night was packed.

On our way home at the end of our trip, we also took a few hours to head back out to Penguin from Devonport. It was a Saturday, so, nothing was basically open by the time we arrived after 12, which meant we spent a little time admiring the Big Penguin (not like the Big Banana or Big Pineapple on the ‘mainland’… the Big Penguin was really just a Medium Penguin …) and then ambled along the beach for a bit playing in the freezing water and skimming rocks. I would say this little town is worth a visit, though I’d opt to go there during the week when shops and cafes are open, and don’t expect too much from the Penguin, though it was fun for a photo.

I truly can’t wait to go back and explore a few other places which have been favourably mentioned along this route that we didn’t get to see, including the tulip fields and northwest blooms, which had been and gone by the time we arrived in Dec.  Sisters Beach and Rocky Cape National Park were another two recommended spots we’ll have to go back to.  We did go to Smithton, the biggest town in this area, but there was nothing of real interest there except an IGA and petrol (premium petrol is surprisingly difficult to find, and we felt the same ‘bleh’-ness about Burnie, though some people love it) so I wouldn’t suggest heading to either places for anything other than essentials. Rather, spend your time between Stanley and Wynyard if you get the chance.

I would love to hear of any hot tips you have for this area- especially the parts we missed in the rain!

 

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