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Tasmanian Travels Part One: the Wild and Wonderful North-West

March 26, 2012

We’ve just returned from two weeks holidaying in Australia’s island state. Before I forget all the wonderful places we visited, beautiful scenery we viewed, fascinating history we learnt about, and fabulous food we sampled, I’m going to try to blog about some of the highlights.

The first few days of our holiday were spent in the North-Western corner of the state. This is a part of Tassie that seems to receive relatively little touristic attention, at least when compared to the very tourist-oriented areas around the Gordon River, Cradle Mountain or along the “Historic Highway”. But the North-West of Tasmania has a lot to offer.

Our first couple of days were mostly spent in and around the town of Ulverstone on Tassie’s Central Coast. Ulverstone was not a place anyone had ever recommended to us, nor a place that the guide books rave about, but it was one of the places that we liked most of all. With a population of about 12,000, Ulverstone is Tassie’s largest town (not that the Tasmanian “cities” are particularly large). We found “Clock Town”, as it is sometimes known, to be just the right size. The settlement sits at the mouth of the Leven River and is big enough to have everything you might need, but small enough to explore with ease, and to keep the surrounding natural attractions (beaches, rivers, waterfalls, forests, canyons and mountains) very close at hand. It is a quietly bustling, friendly, slightly bookish place in which tourists are welcomed but are not the only game in town.

"Westella" - the bed and breakfast we enjoyed at Ulverstone.

We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast on the edge of town and spent our time exploring the hinterlands. My highlight in the Ulverstone area was going to the scenic lookouts at Leven Canyon, then driving home via a waterfall and a scenic coastal road. Leven Canyon is reached by driving for an hour or so out of the town through gorgeous winding country roads that lead through ever-changing landscapes. One moment we seemed to be traveling through an English village, complete with picture-book cottages, farmhouses and livestock… only to find ourselves suddenly back in the beautiful Australian bush, surrounded by eucalypts or ferns… then cresting a hill we’d unexpectedly catch glimpses of the sea… only to turn another corner and find another picturesque farm vista…

Scenic view outside of Ulverstone

Scenic view outside of Ulverstone.

Scenic view outside of Ulverstone.

Scenic view outside of Ulverstone.

Beautiful greenery outside of Ulverstone.

Waterfall, near Leven Canyon.

A view from one of the lookouts at Leven Canyon.

Another favourite spot we found in the North-West was the little town of Stanley which nestles around the base of a strange blob of hardened volcanic lava, known as “the Nut”, which juts out into the sea. When we visited the weather was unseasonably warm, so Stanley was absolutely delightful. However, I can imagine that on a blustery and wet Tasmanian day this would be a very cold and isolated place to find yourself. Nevertheless it is a charming town in a beautiful position.

Part of Stanley's main street nestled below "The Nut".

One of many seaviews from Stanley.

"The Nut" seen from a nearby beach.

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