Off the Path
Tasmania
North WestFrom Devonport to Tasmania's rugged north-west, expect classic coastal drives, sumptuous food trails, beautiful national parks and historic villages.
Tasmania's North West has a strong agricultural tradition, not surprising given the rich red soil and perfect growing conditions found throughout the region. There are fresh fruit and vegetables, delicious cheeses, wine, whiskey, and chocolates - the ultimate paddock-to-plate experience. Follow the Cradle Coast Tasting Trail, talk to the makers and find out why they find the region so inspiring. For those interested in history there are museums, aboriginal heritage sites and historic buildings. Follow the coast westward, beside the Bass Strait past Wynyard with flowering tulips carpeting the fields in spring, to the historic village of Stanley nestled at the foot of the Nut. Stanley is a town of perfectly preserved colonial buildings and just out of town is the beautifully restored Highfield House (1832), once home to the chief agent of the Van Diemen's Land Company. Continue west to Smithton, the centre of the region's productive agricultural and thriving forestry operations while inland from the coast is Cradle Mountain, one of Tasmania's most visited icons with its amazing natural experiences, great walks and stunning scenery. With no shortage of great food, beautiful scenery, wildlife and unexpected discoveries, Tasmania's North West has something for everyone.
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Explore Tarkine Forest Reserve
This huge area of temperate rainforest is home to mountain ranges, wild rivers, buttongrass moorlands and a rugged coastline with long sandy beaches and coastal heath. There's a rich variety of animals in the reserve including platypus, echidna, wombat, bandicoot, possum and glider - not to mention the famous Tasmanian Devil and Tasmania's other carnivorous predators, the Spotted-tailed Quoll and Eastern Quoll. The Tarkine also hosts over a hundred bird species, including several rare and endemic birds such as the threatened Orange-bellied Parrot. The settlement of Arthur River on the border of the reserve is the starting point for beach and forest journeys and adventures. Waterways can be explored by canoe, kayak and riverboat cruises through forests of blackwood, myrtle and celery top pine. There are numerous walking trails from Arthur River and at various stops along the nearby South Arthur Forest drive, including the Celery Top pine nature trail and the Balfour Track rainforest walk. Further south, the Western Explorer touring route winds its way to the tiny settlement of Corinna on the Pieman River, where the Fat Man punt carries cars across the river to continue their journey south.
Visit the historic town of Stanley
The historic fishing village of Stanley is thought by many to be the most picturesque town in Tasmania and was voted the No 6 Top Spot to see in Australia by Australian Traveller Magazine. Stanley is nestled at the foot of the Nut, an immense flat-topped, volcanic plug rising 150 metres and visible 30 km away. With sheer cliffs on three sides and connected to the mainland by a 7 km isthmus, the Nut is possibly Tasmania's most-photographed landmark. You can walk or take a chairlift to the top for spectacular views over Bass Strait. Stanley is a registered historic town, rich in cultural heritage, arts and crafts. A wealth of colonial buildings house visitor attractions including artists' galleries, craft workshops and accommodation. The grand facades of its larger buildings reflect Stanley's original status as the centre for regional government, while quaint cottage terraces line the split-level main street with sweeping views over the wharves, beach and the rest of the town. Nearby is the Highfield House Historic Site, the beautifully restored home of the Chief Agent of the Van Diemen's Land Company, with its outhouses, chapel and stables. Commercial fishing is a major part of the local economy and the range of fish, even from the local wharf, is extensive. In the local restaurants, the fish will be today's catch, whether served as classic fish and chips or as a modern degustation menu. Stanley is also close to the Tarkine Wilderness Area, some of Tasmania's best wilderness and the Tarkine Drive. Stanley is a 1-hr drive (75 km) west of Burnie.
See Tasmania's most famous marsupials up close
The Devils @ Cradle Tasmanian devil sanctuary is a breeding and conservation facility for three of Tasmania's unique threatened carnivorous marsupials; the Tasmanian devil, the Spotted-tailed Quoll, and Eastern Quoll. The facility is located on the edge of the Cradle Mountain National Park World Heritage area and conducts in-situ conservation programs for the Tasmanian devil including an on-site breeding program for insurance of the species. A visit to the sanctuary day or night will allow you to observe these extraordinary animals up close whilst one of our keepers will give you an understanding of their life cycle and the threats that confront them. The sanctuary is open from 10:00 with 'day keeper tours' being conducted at 10:30, 13:00 and 15:00, while in the evening visitors can observe the amazing night time antics of the animals being fed. Behind the scenes tours allow visitors to have up-close encounters with these animals. Devils @ Cradle is committed to the conservation and protection of this now vulnerable species. The centre operates a successful captive breeding program, ensuring the ongoing survival of Tasmanian devils in healthy numbers in the wild.
Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park
Cradle Mountain is Tasmania's most recognisable landmark and one of Tasmania's most visited attractions. Located at the northern end of the Cradle Mountain Lake-St Clair National Park, Cradle Mountain is part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area. The surrounding landscape of ancient rainforest and alpine lands with colourful beech makes for any number of beautiful walks. There's a visitor centre on the park boundary with an interpretive display, ranger station, park information, walker registration and up-to-date weather reports. There's no town at Cradle Mountain, however, there's a wide range of accommodation in the Cradle Valley area, from an excellent campground to a luxury wilderness lodge. There are many superb short walks from the visitor centre and the Dove Lake car park, 14 kilometres further on. A five-kilometre wooden boardwalk links the ranger station to Dove Lake, giving visitors an easy way to explore the park. A free shuttle bus takes visitors into the park and if you choose to walk part of the way the shuttle will pick you up at various points along the road.
Visit Bass Strait Maritime Centre Devonport
Bass Strait Maritime Centre Devonport is situated in parkland at the mouth of the Mersey River. Through objects, images and interactive displays, the Centre explores the themes of the natural history of Bass Strait and its islands, European exploration, settlement, early shipbuilders and entrepreneurs, shipwrecks, the impact of steam, the creation of the Port City of Devonport and Naval history. A simulated experience 'Take the Helm of the SS Woniora' gives visitors a chance to test their skills and bring a 1910 steamer into the Mersey River or through the heads of Port Phillip Bay. The newly restored Julie Burgess ketch provides the real experience. Two-hour sailings operate from October through to the end of June on Wednesdays and Sundays subject to weather conditions, taking passengers out into Bass Strait and back! We look forward to welcoming you!
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