Got a late start and Midget off to the vet for her second injection. Enjoyed a lazy coffee and muffin at the nice florist café and then decided we really should head out of town.
Finally got our 1.2kms walk in from town to Fossil Bluff. Its an amazing 380 million years old and deposited by glacial action. The view is spectacular 360o of fabulous coastline can be seen from the top.
Meandered our way to Stanley. It was a comfortable 60km trip down the road to the Northern and most Western town on the Island. Steeped in history is Stanley, and full of stories as well as the buildings that tell the tales.
The claim to its modern day fame is “the Nut”. Stanley’s point is covered in what is believed to be a huge lava vent that came up from under ground and overflowed into a huge mound of solid rock. In 1892 while upgrading their port facilities, they lit some humongous amount of explosives to try and use some of the rock for their boat harbour, but all it managed to do was chip the surface of a bit of rock and there it stayed. Until 12 years later it fell off the side of the cliff making a large straight edge to the rock. No one has ever tried to mould it again since then.
VDL Office - now accommodation
Stanley also has a very chequered past from the dealings of the Van Diemen’s Land Company’s ownership and opening up of the area. VDL Co were a company commissioned by Royal Ascent from England. They fought tooth and nail for a large chunk of what was thought to be the most prosperous part of central Tasmania. They were not well favoured by Governor Arthur who would only give them this untamed corner of the Island, as he didn’t wish them to have any power. They are well known in the history of the area as the Government of NW Tasmania, as they appeared to be a law unto themselves.
Though plagued with problems, they set up shop in Stanley building a granite stone building in 1825. They managed to kill 95% of their 5000 sheep within the first 12 months of arriving in the area. Its now considered the most fertile land in the country. Sadly due to the total deforestation of the countryside, its also the windiest part of the country too!
They appointed an Agent as their manager in Tasmania. The first was Edward Curr. He was not very well liked and was blamed for many an Aboriginal massacre in the region. The VLD Co posted a fifty pound reward for the capture of the last Aboriginal family in the region. They were responsible for the extinction of the Aboriginal people from this corner of the island.
The company constructed a managers’ residents called Highfield House from 1832-1835. This housed the Curr’s and their 15 children! It was built entirely of convict labour. They even built a fortress to house the convicts in while constructing the house.
The town consists of a well preserved main street where the Stanley Hotel still appears to stand as it did in all the old photos that survive of the town. The rest of the street consists of cute eating places, art gallery, and many holiday accommodation places.
We also drove up the main street to see HG Nelson and James Blundell filming their up and coming TV show on ABC ”Bush Slam”. We couldn’t believe our luck. We’d heard they were working on it, but had no idea when it was on. We walked past the pub to see the sign emblazoned on the balcony inviting all and sundry to join in the studio audience tomorrow night at 5:30pm. What timing!
James Blundell and me
We managed to score a table at the pub for dinner and there was a huge wait. We’d heard that the Stanley Hotel won the Hotel’s Association of Australia’s Award in 2008 for Best Bistro Counter Meal. It was certainly showing in the packed atmosphere of over 250 people fed in about 1.5 hours! It was buzzing. We really enjoyed our dinner.
Staggered back to our van on the waterfront. In for a very windy night.