Steeped in natural beauty and history and with a romantic streetscape of colonial buildings and quaint cottages, Stanley is a historically important town that was once home to the headquarters of the Van Diemen’s Land Company and is the birthplace of Joseph Lyons, the only Tasmanian-born prime minister.
In the shadow of the Nut, a volcanic plug that rises 152 metres from the sea, and on the doorstep of the takayna/Tarkine wilderness, visitors travel to the town for its great outdoors but also to trawl its art galleries and artisan and antique stores, explore its heritage sites and cosy up in cheerful cafes.
In 2018, Kerry and Alastair Houston upped sticks from Hobart with their young daughters to breathe new life into an old sailors’ tavern at the heart of a little fishing village on Tassie’s north-west coast.
Built in 1849, Ship Inn Stanley (one of the 100 Unique Stays Across Australia in the Unique Boutique Accommodation category) has been transformed into a boutique storytelling hotel that allows guests to luxuriate in the local history of the building and town as much as it does in its impeccable styling and design. Here, Kerry shares her perfect day in and around these parts.
It’s a 4.5-hour drive from Hobart and a 2.5-hour drive from Launceston to the tiny town of Stanley, which juts into Bass Strait on Tasmania’s rugged north-west coast, in a region known, rather irresistibly, as The Edge of The World.
What to do
8am: Breakfast is served
Wake up at Ship Inn Stanley and roll out of a sumptuous king-sized bed dressed with soft linen bedding, enjoy fresh sourdough bread and Tasmanian jams in your suite and pamper yourself with the luxurious Salus bathroom products. Each suite tells a local tale… immerse yourself in the story of yours.
Ship Inn Stanley has been transformed into a boutique storytelling hotel
9am: Early stroll
Wander around the Ship Inn gardens, which sit under the towering Nut, the remains of an extinct volcanic plug. Take a short stroll to the port and soak in the views of Hursey Seafoods’ red fishing fleet moored under the Nut.
10am: Soak up the history
Take in the history next door to the Inn at Joe Lyons Cottage, the birthplace of the only Tasmanian-born prime minister. His grandfather built the Ship Inn Stanley in 1849.
10.30am: Explore the village
Stroll into the centre of the village to The Speckled Hen Cafe and enjoy a coffee or tea and one of the delicious house-made cakes. Peruse Cow n Calf Art Gallery and Touchwood Gallery, which showcase the works of local Tasmanian artisans.
12.30pm: Enjoy a picnic with a difference
Pop into Providore 24 and gather some fine Tasmanian produce for a picnic. Then head up the hill and hop on The Nut Chair Lift for the short ride to the top of the Nut. Head to the sheltered glade, taking in the views of the rugged coastline and Bass Strait beyond and enjoy a picnic in the company of wallabies and pademelons.
The shadow of the Nut
2pm: Historic Highfield
Head along Godfreys Beach to Highfield Historic Site, and explore some of the fascinating local history from the early 1800s.
3.30pm: Afternoon delights
Walk back along the beach and check out the luxury wares and incredible array of Tasmanian wines and spirits at The Angel’s Share cellar door. Then pop into Hearts n’ Crafts for locally made goodies.
The historic Highfield house
4pm: Lounging around
Head back to ‘The ghost of Old John Peacock’ guest lounge in the converted 1900s billiard hall on the Ship Inn Stanley grounds and relax in the sumptuous space while enjoying views of the Nut and the ocean.
5.30pm: Pre-dinner drink
Take a short walk to Tasmanian Wine and Food in a converted cottage in the centre of town. This quirky space has a steam-punk, speakeasy vibe and an array of vintage books on unusual subjects to entertain you.
Find Tasmanian Wine and Food in a converted cottage
7pm: Country pub
Nip across to the historic Stanley Hotel bistro and enjoy a delicious Cape Grim beef meal or a half lobster paired with fine Tassie wine. Make sure to check out the stunning Bluestone Wine Cellar, the oldest along the coast.
8.30pm: Say good night to the penguins
Stroll back to your suite, detouring along the way to the penguin viewing platform at the base of the Nut. Watch the little penguins, illuminated by the soft red glow of lights, wobble along the rocks to their burrows in the scrub next to the historic cemetery.
9pm: Lights out
Retire to your suite to put your feet up.