Spectacular backdrop at Stanley

Wilkins Tourist Maps produces a free map in this area. You can pick up a North West map from accommodation houses, attractions and businesses, and some information centres in towns in this area. Click here for names and addresses of outlets where they are available.

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The rugged and exciting north west

Open to the winds and waters of Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean, the north west of Tasmania boasts a rugged coastline interspersed with golden beaches, rocky outcrops capped with lighthouses to warn unsuspecting mariners, and solid buildings built to house the families who tended them, and those who opened the country to sheep and cattle grazing and founded services along the coast and inland.

On the north west tip, at the appropriately named Cape Grim, the Woolnorth Windfarm harnesses the Roaring Forties to add to the hydro grid, and to the south the massive sand dunes stir under its caress.
This is wild and woolly country but it also has its softer side. Stark coastline provides attractive and sheltered coves where small fishing fleets can harbour. Around these harbours pretty townships grow and few are more attractive than Stanley or Arthur River.

Sheltered by 'The Nut' a massive outcrop protecting the small town Stanley is one of many places providing services along the north coast. It was here that Highfield was established in 1835, the base for the van Diemen Company which developed much of the north coast and established Woolnorth. The house is now under the protection of the National Trust and can be seen on a short drive from Stanley centre.
To the south, at Mawbanna, is the Water Wheel Creek complex situated in the rainforest and well worth visiting.
Along the coast many small towns like Black River, Crayfish Creek and Edgecumbe Beach have accommodation, beaches and plenty to see and do. There are two major coastal parks at Table Cape and Rocky Cape and the Arthur Pieman Conservation area stretches south along the west coast from Arthur River.

Smithton is the largest town in the north east and is well serviced with motels and resorts, a large shopping centre, and galleries and cafes to visit. It is an ideal touring point for the region and has its own nearby attractions like the beautiful Allendale Gardens and the Temma Cheese Factory.
To the south west of Smithton is the Dismal Swamp and pretty Arthur River where cruises operate along the river well into the hinterland. Canoes and kayaks are available for hire and there is accommodation in a caravan park and cabins.

From Arthur River a loose surface road connects with the west coast at Zeehan after crossing the massive Pieman River at Corinna. I recommend this as a trip despite the rough surface.

King Island is dealt with elsewhere in these pages.
The north west offers another look at Tasmania. Quaint fishing villages, safe harbours, rocky points and stark national parks offer a variety seen nowhere else in the state. A drive along the coast from Burnie to Smithton opens up another view of the state which is well worth enjoying.