Belgian-style chocolate fudge, a train ride along the Don River, or a walk in one of Australia’s most dramatic national parks? A stroll through a town of murals, a climb up a giant volcanic plug overlooking Bass Strait or a visit to farm that produces both salmon and ginseng?
Fly into Burnie-Wynyard Airport and you are confronted by myriad leisure choices. Let us start our discovery trip in Burnie, Tasmania’s most westerly city. Nestled around Emu Bay on Bass Strait, Burnie is a a 40-minute drive from the larger city of Devonport. It’s a working-class town where 20,000 residents enjoy galleries, performances, exhibitions, and community events as well as cafés and eateries.
In Burnie, some of the best milk in the world is used in local cheese-making. The city is also home to one of the leading distilleries on the Apple Isle: Hellyers Road Distillery. Visitors are welcome to taste, take a tour or enjoy a meal in the on-site café.
Burnie’s hills are home to impressive gardens and parks. And there are some amazing art deco and Federation buildings close to the working waterfront. It’s a good starting point from which to explore attractions including the pretty village of Stanley, the Tarkine/Takayna wilderness and Cradle Mountain, one of Tasmania’s “must do” adventures, which has a brand-new visitor centre.
Rugged luxury at Cradle Mountain Lodge
The wilderness setting at Cradle Mountain Lodge is a quintessentially rugged Tasmanian experience. We must decide whether to attend a wine-tasting accompanied by a range of gourmet cheeses, or to venture outside on a guided night tour of the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park to look for wombats, wallabies, possums, pademelons and a Tassie devil or two. A spa treatment, perhaps, a choice of walks, or a helicopter ride over Dove Lake?
The ideal spot to combine animal watching with a little luxury, Cradle Mountain Lodge has had a recent multimillion-dollar upgrade to its accommodation, dining and spa facilities.
A new room category in the King Billy Suites has been launched. These offer central fireplaces, outdoor spa baths and elevated minibars featuring a variety of items from high-end Tasmanian producers.
Work has also been completed on the Highland Restaurant, maintaining the casual vibe while introducing a new menu. The Tavern Bar & Bistro has a new wood-fired pizza oven and open kitchen, along with an expanded deck offering space for 80 more patrons.
Say hi to Stanley
A 90-minute drive away in Stanley, you can climb the iconic volcanic plug known as The Nut; or take a ride on the chairlift. Alternatively, settle in at the Angel’s Share tasting room for the chance to sample the creations of several of the Apple Isle’s growing number of artisan whisky producers. (You can walk off any excesses with a 2km stroll around the top of The Nut.)
Stay at the Ship Inn; a cosy Tasmanian guest house which embraces local tales of shipwrecks, sailors and a prime minister. It started life as a pub in 1849 but today caters for modern tastes with a gym and yoga studio. The cottage where former Prime Minister Joseph Lyons was born is now open to the public as a museum.
Eat at Tasmanian Wine and Food, where you will find platters and local wines, or across the road at the Stanley Hotel. Local restaurant options include bistro-style, Asian-fusion, seafood, pizza or takeaway.
The town is home to Hursey Seafoods’ fleet of nine vessels, which catch southern rock lobster, giant crab, stripey trumpeter, gummy shark, flathead and other local fish – and sell them direct to the public.
Local Stanley attractions include penguin viewing at dusk, a heritage walk, Dip Falls and Blue Hills Honey, which hosts the delightful Leather & Wood café. The former cable station, around 3km out of town, offers bed and breakfast accommodation. Established in 1936, the property was a telecommunications centre that carried Tasmania’s first telephone link to the mainland. Another piece of history is Highfield House and its lovely gardens. The Stanley and Tarkine Visitor Centre is a great place to find out more regional information.
Beyond Burnie: Tarkine, Sheffield and Waratah Falls
Check out the wide range of street art in Sheffield; some artisan beers at Seven Sheds in Railton; explore the limestone caves at Gunns Plains; or visit the small town of Waratah, where a large waterfall drops from the town into a gully below. Waratah Falls can be seen from near the base, thanks to easy access tracks from the main road, as well as from different vantage points around the town.
If all that’s not enough, breathe in the fresh air in the Tarkine wilderness. Take a boat tour of the Arthur River to explore the beauty of the region up close or stay a night or two at Corinna Wilderness Experience.
There is a range of accommodation available in this historic mining town. A top pick in the original Roadman’s cottage with double bed, the old pub which is like a guest house (with single and double rooms) available for groups and new wilderness retreats built in country style.
Set among 447,000 hectares of forest, wild rivers, exposed mountains, magnesite cave systems and extensive coastal heath, the Tarkine has the largest tract of temperate rainforest in the southern hemisphere and has sacred significance to Tasmanian Aboriginal custodians. Visitors can get close to nature culturally, spiritually and physically. Just make sure to wrap up warmly in winter.
Corinna in North-West Tassie
Corinna Wilderness Experience’s eco-wilderness retreats have no television, mobile coverage or wi-fi. But there is a bar and general store, and a restaurant in warmer months.
The Arcadia II Cruise departs Corinna dock at 10am daily. The journey takes around 90 minutes, travelling 22km down to the Pieman Heads. Guests can enjoy morning tea and coffee on board.
To get to places the Arcadia II can’t reach, a one-hour cruise on the Sweetwater vessel is a great option. It usually departs at 3pm in summer, and is weather-dependant in winter.
Corinna is on the northern side of the Pieman River. If you are driving from the south (Queenstown, Zeehan etc) you must use the Fatman Barge get to Corinna.
Other north-west attractions close to Burnie-Waratah Airport include Devonport’s Don Valley Railway – home to the largest collection of steam locomotives in Tasmania; chocolate and fudge indulgences at House of Anvers in Latrobe; wine samplings at Ghost Rock; and salmon and ginseng tastings at 41° South Tasmania in Red Hills.
Interested in booking a trip to Burnie? Rex (Regional Express) operates flights from Sydney to Burnie starting from just $208. Their thru-fares mean your luggage goes all the way through to your final destination, leaving you to relax and start your holiday as soon as you check in. Check flight times at rex.com.au
If you enjoyed this story and are looking for more Tasmanian escapes, check out this gorgeous getaway to the Beaupre Peninsula.