The North West Coast – Burnie, Smithton and onwards to the Tarkine

Burnie – has a population of around 20,000 people and was best known for its paper mill but that closed down in 2010. Located right on the coast, with Port facilities to take in cruise liners, and with 3 main beaches – West, South and Co-ee – the town has some great things to see. The boom period for the town was in the 1920’s which saw a number of Art Deco buildings built, and many of these can still be seen in the town’s centre.

Places to see include:

  • The Visitor Centre – located at 2 Bass Highway with lots of interesting displays and information about the town as well as a Cheese shop and Makers Workshop – where you can see people making specialist papers and other craft work.
  • Hellyers Road Distillery – 153 Old Surrey Rd (Tel: 6433 0439) where you can sample a wee dram.
  • Burnie Regional Gallery – Wilmot street – A really great gallery space with excellent paintings.
  • Burnie Regional Museum – Little Alexander St Tel: (03) 6430 5746– where they have even re-created a street with a horse and carriage and lined with shop window fronts – just as it would have been in 1900. Fantastic.
  • Natone Fly Fishery – 122 Greta Rd, Upper Natone Tel: (03) 6436 2357 Here you can discover all about fly fishing with equipment supplied for you.
  • Alpaca and Animal Farm – located at 309 West Ridgley Rd West Ridgley Tel: (03) 6435 7535. Here you can see alpacas, rabbits, peacocks, sheep, goats and other animals on a working farm. Nearby is Annsleigh Gardens and Café – at 4 Mataira Rd.
  • Emu Garden Rhododendron Garden – 55 Breffny Rd (Tel: (03) 6433 1805. This has the best Rhododendron Garden possibly in Australia.

The coastline heading west from Burnie is rugged with small fishing villages along the way.

Wynyard has a Visitor Centre ( 8 Exhibition Link) – which is also a art gallery and there is also a Veteran Car Collection on display too. You can also book early night tours to the Doctors Rock Penguin Colony. Also see the Table Cape Tulip Farm – 363 Table Cape Road Tel: (03) 6442 2012)

Rocky Cape National Park – hugs the rocky coastline with small pocket sized beaches in between rocky headlands that jut out into Bass Straight. There are also caves here at Sister’s Beach, Flagpole Hill and Rocky Cape.

Stanley – is a pretty fishing village next to an extinct volcano, called ‘The Nut’! You can’t miss it, with its high sloping sides and flat top – and you can either walk to the top for great views over Bass Strait and Stanley, or take a chairlift from Browns Road to the top. Also check out Highfield House – a restored historic home built between 1832 and 1835 (143 Greenhills Rd), and also former Prime Minister, Joe Lyons Cottage (14 Alexander Terrace Tel: (03) 6458 1145.) The Stanley Discovery Museum and Geneology Centre has lots of memorabilia and records from the early days too.

The Stanley Seaquarium on Fishermans Dock will show you some of the amazing sea life including the Giant Tasmanian Crab – which can grow up to 16kg in weight and a massive size. There are a number of tours that can be organised from Stanley (and Smithton), including to the Tarkine, helicopter flights, seal cruises, and ones to see platypus and penguins.

Smithton – on the Duck River has lots of B&B, hotels and other accommodation, as well as tours that leave from here. Things to see include the Circular Head Heritage Centre (8 King St), and the Wild Wood Gallery (160 Mengha Rd, Forest Tel: (03)6458 3264 ). Allendale Gardens and Rainforest Walks – also has a café and is just out of town on Blanch Rd, Allendale Lane at Edith Creek, and Tarkine Forest Adventures at Dismal Creek has a 110metre long slide down into the world’s only Blackwood forest sinkhole (Bass Highway at Togari Tel: (03) 6456 7199). There are also walkways and mountain bike tracks here too.

From Smithton, you can also do a tour of Woolworth – a wind farm property about 40 kilometres from Smithton taking advantage of the Roaring Forties winds that blow in from the Southern Ocean. ( Tel: (03) 6452 1493) For Helicopter flights over the Tarkine, and 4WD Tours Tel: (03) 6452 9000. Both operate from Tall Timbers Hotel ( )

Marrawah on the west coast plays host to the Ripcurl West Coast Classic in March each year, when professional surfers converge on the village to ride the Southern Ocean waves. Also in Marrawah is Kings Run – Tel: (03)6457 1191 – for night tours to see Tasmanian Devils.

Arthur River and the Tarkine Wilderness – The Tarkine covers an area of 447,000 hectares – made up of rivers, rainforest, animals, birds, lakes beaches, sand dunes, rocky headlands and tall trees some estimated to be as much as 3000 years old. This is very much a wilderness area, and you need to be prepared with the right clothing and food, with the weather unpredictable and sometimes very windy when the Roaring Forties hit the coastline. While there are lots of walks and you will get all the information you need in Arthur River, one of the easiest and best ways to see the Tarkine is to take a cruise. There are two cruise companies operating from Arthur Creek – AR Reflections

( Tel: (03) 6457 1288) and the MV “George Robinson ( Tel: (03)6457 1158). Both cruises are about 5 to 6 hours long.

It is also possible to drive south from Arthur River to Corinna on the Pieman River and then on the Zeehan – but you need to check to see that the road is open, and that your vehicle is suited to the journey south.
To experience the Roaring Forties winds and the ‘Edge of the World’ – there is a viewing platform just south of Arthur River Bridge. Looking out to the ocean from here the closest land heading west is South Africa over 6000 miles away.
Happy Travelling!
Geoff Stuart

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