For all the glory and international accolade Tasmania has attained in recent years, the North West Coast remains a secret to most visitors. For me growing up in Tasmania has been a dream come true and much of that dream was lived on the coast less talked about – the North West. While the beaches are just as enviable, the moody winters are not. That is of course until now. The recently opened Ship Inn provides the perfect shoulder season getaway with the dramatic backdrop of Stanley’s famed “Nut” in the immediate background.
Stanley: A Hidden Gem on the Northwest Coast
For all the secret Tasmania holds, Stanley is one of the greats. This colonial township came to fruition in the early 19th Century when the Van Diemen’s Land Company was granted land in the Circular Head area, including Stanley. The town is of course today famous for its affectionately dubbed “Nut”, officially called Munatrik, an old volcanic plug that attracts climbers for its short but steep ascent.
With the harsh winters and often windy shoulder seasons that see more rainy days than clear ones, visitors to Stanley are fairly confined to the peak summer season. However one of the best pieces of advice one could give visitors to Tasmania is to travel off-season to escape the crowds and embrace the colder climate. With the recent arrival of The Ship Inn, a luxurious hotel embracing dark tones and the seaside gloom, there is a perfect excuse to visit Stanley off season.
Having visited Stanley more times than I can count in this lifetime, I was sure I had seen it all. This part of Tasmania doesn’t often see new hotels break through, especially family owned and operated boutiques. Thus when I heard on the grapevine about a new luxury hotel opening in Stanley, I was eager to see what it was about.
The Ship Inn is the kind of seaside escape we have all probably imagined exists but are yet to find it. The interiors are dark and mysterious, embracing the winter warmth with various shades of grey, plaid fabrics and unique textures. It is a modern celebration of the ship merchant lifestyle with trinkets and treasures adorning the walls and bedside tables, reminding us of the origins of Stanley and indeed the rest of Australia.
If you can persuade your significant other to leave the hotel room for even just a few hours, most of Stanley can be seen in one afternoon. The fabulous Xanders is one of the best restaurants this side of Launceston, open Wednesday-Sunday. There are a handful of small boutiques that double as art galleries and providores, all of which are worthy of a peak inside. Another new addition to the town is the Tasmanian Wine & Food wine bar with its cozy interior and playful cocktail menu.
The main activity for your visit will be to climb “The Nut”, Stanley’s famed volcanic rock formation. It is a short and sharp 15 minute climb to the top, with a track to enjoy panoramic views at the summit.
Elsewhere nearby be sure to venture inland to Cradle Mountain, further along the coast to the Tarkine Adventure and if you’re eager to find more hidden gems, Marrawah and the Arthur River are also within driving distance.
A very big thank you to The Ship Inn for welcoming us to enjoy two nights in my old stomping ground and share this part of the world with my readers. All opinions and photos are my own!