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    Australia | Tasmania, Stanley – The Nut

    Our destination: pulingina martula/The Nut at Circular Head, Stanley, Tasmania

    Where is it: The Nut is located in Stanley, an historic village on the north-west coast of Tasmania.

    What is The Nut: It is a flat-topped volcanic plug. Climb 143 metres to its summit and you’ll be rewarded with 360 views of the north-west coastline and surrounding hinterland.

    The Nut in Stanley of a fine day

    Access: to reach top of The Nut you can choose to take the chairlift or walk the steep and strenuous Zig Zag Track. At the top of The Nut is a circuit walking track with four lookout platforms. The chairlift operates at different times of the year. It doesn’t usually operate in winter and or when there are extremely high winds. We visited during winter (out of season) and the winds are treacherous. 

    Adjacent to the chairlift’s drop off point at the summit is a Reading Room with information about The Nut. It’s closed in winter. 

    What we experienced: the day we chose to climb the Nut was probably not the best. We would be better off calling this overview “Why two Nuts climbed the Nut”. It was blowing a gale and the rain spiked our faces like shards of glass. (No actual physical damage done but that’s how it felt.) The climb up is extremely steep and arduous; certainly not recommended for the unfit or people with physical disabilities.

    When you reach the summit: along the walking tracks are interpretation signs to learn about geology, history, fauna and Tasmanian Aboriginal culture. There’s also a kids activity trail to add fun to the adventure.

    The Walks: there are shorter walks and a longer walk. The Zig Zag Track is moderately challenging. It takes 15 minutes each way. This track covers 430m on a hardened surface but it is a steep climb to The Nut plateau and not for the faint-hearted.

    The Highfields Lookout Track is 10 minutes each way. It’s 250m long and easy if you have taken the chairlift to the top. The surface is hardened or compacted; some sections have steps.

    The Plateau Circuit is the longest of the three tracks. Reasonably easy to navigate; challenging in gale-force winds and drizzling rain, the 2 km track is suitable for most fitness levels and ages. The track features hardened or compacted surfaces and many steps. The circuit provides access to all four lookouts.

    Along the route are picnic areas where you can sit, enjoy a picnic and relax.

    Postscript: You’re probably wondering why we drove to Stanley with the sole purpose of climbing The Nut? Monty and I have stayed in Stanley before. We love this historic town; you feel as though you have stepped back in time! Therefore, the fact that we drove to Stanley solely to climb The Nut and have a drink at the Stanley Pub (our favourite) might sound ridiculous but it’s something that I just had to do. When Monty and I travel I always want to climb to the highest vantage point of a town or city to get a true appreciation of where we are.

    The road trip:

    We left Launceston around 8.20am. We stopped to fill up the tank before driving a little further to Frankford where we treated ourselves to coffee at Blue Berry Barn Café. It’s here we ate the best, oh-so-moist carrot cake. Home baked by the café owner Debbie Morice. This is the sweetest little café, unpretentious oozing with local country charm. Debbie and husband Stuart are full of great tips for travellers experiencing the top end for the first time.

    The journey was hampered by light rain, but not enough to cause concern. We drove straight to Stanley passing through Exeter and by-passing Devonport, Ulverstone, Penguin, Burnie, and Wynard. We chose not to stop as we have visited these towns in the past.

    It was a smooth trip and we arrived in Stanley as calculated. We parked outside the Brown Dog Café (we can attest that this café serves a damned good coffee and ham & cheese croissant) and walked up the main entrance to The Nut’s official entry. It was here we discovered that there was plenty of parking, maybe not so plentiful during peak tourist season?

    After navigating The Nut, we treated ourselves to a glass of red at our favourite hotel, The Stanley Pub. We asked for two glasses of house red. The lass behind the bar asked our preference as the pub has a reasonably impressive offer.  We responded: ‘cab sav’. Little did we know that The Stanley Hotel doesn’t sell ‘house red’. They sell a variety of quality bottled wines to suit all budgets. As fate would have it, we ordered the most expensive red. On average, a glass of red is $11 to $13. There is only one cab sav you can order by the glass and it’s Leconfield from South Australia. We should have ordered a glass of Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir for $11; it would have been perfect. You live and learn. Next time, don’t ask for ‘house red’, ask for the wine list and make an informed decision.

    Tip: if you have time, indulge in a touch of yesteryear with the Stanley Heritage Walk. Simply log onto stanleyheritagewalk.com.au for details. You may also see the Under The Nut – Stanley Heritage Walk pamphlet on your travels. It features the route and a QR to download the history of each of the 15 properties you visit on your walk.

    Addresses:

    Blue Berry Bar Café 1969 Frankford Hwy Frankford (between Exeter and Devonport) Specialising in “hearty breakfasts and Devonshire cream tea with scones still warm from the oven”.

    Stanley Pub 19/21 Church Street Stanley

    The Nut carpark is at the end of Browns Road. Free parking. (Chairlift isn’t free.)

    Final word:

    If you don’t have your own vehicle to explore Tasmania, don’t despair. The are myriad tour companies offering full day, half day and custom-made tour options.

    To kick start your research check out  www.discovertasmaniatours.com.au They cover the north west & central area / southern area / north east and east coast regions.

    Vicki Montague is a freelance writer with a predilection for travel, European fashion, architecture that oozes history and charm, and objects that tell a story. She and her partner John are empty nesters - their three adult children have left the comforts of home to carve out their own paths in life. Vicki’s professional background is in marketing and public relations.

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