Tour de Tassie #6 – The white road through the Wilderness to Stanley

The Silica Road

All good things come to an end….

Here is the final instalment in my Tour de Tassie series of travel blogs.

Tasmanian Devil sign
Tasmanian Devil sign

Moving on from West Coast to North West Coast

Strahan – Zeehan – Corinna – Smithton – Stanley

After our 2 day stay in beautiful Strahan on the West Coast of Tasmania, we decided to head towards Stanley on the North West coast.  To do that we had a few choices of roads and we chose the road less travelled.  The white road through the wilderness.  It doesn’t even appear on the map I’ve included below!!

We must admit to being a bit underwhelmed with the town of Zeehan but we were pleased to visit the Spray Tunnel which was just out of town. The Spray Tunnel is a 100-metre long abandoned train tunnel that leads to what was the Spray Silver Mine. The tunnel was carved through the hill so that ore could be moved from the mine. The tunnel is unusually shaped like a keyhole, approximately 3 metres high and 2.2 metres wide and 100 metres long.  It’s a real relic of the West’s mining history. We also saw glow worms inside the tunnel as we walked through it – very cool!

After Zeehan, we took the road to Corinna which was mainly unsealed, scenic and a bit lonely, with very few cars travelling either way. There was no phone reception at all and it felt like we were in the middle of the wilderness at times – I’m not complaining, it was a great feeling!

The road around Corinna is sometimes called the “silica road”, an all weather surface using the tailings from the nearby silica mine. The locals say that this beautiful white road on either side of Corinna provides a better driving experience than the sealed sections.

Pieman River Barge

Barge Crossing At Pieman River Tasmania
Barge Crossing

We knew from the signs that there was a ferry/barge crossing the Pieman River but until we landed at the river we didn’t know the fee of $25 per vehicle, luckily we had cash on us as I’m not sure if the barge took cards as a payment. We stopped at the edge of the river and my husband rang the Fatman barge phone (sounds like something from Get Smart). Apparently the barge ran at half hour intervals so we weren’t sure how long we would have to wait. In the meantime we saw a sign pointing to historical graves off to the side of the road and we headed over to have a look. Very interesting!

It wasn’t very long until we saw the barge heading over towards us and then we were loaded and on our way.  The young guy running the barge was interesting and gave us information about the road ahead.  He was from Byron Bay and knew someone in Tumbarumba – it’s a small world!  He didn’t have much longer to work the barge and was looking forward to moving on, although he enjoyed his work at Corinna immensely.


Corinna is a very small community which was once a remote historic mining town.  It’s now an eco-tourism area surrounded by rainforest and natural wilderness. It’s well known for its river cruises, boating, fishing and bird watching.

Corinna was once a thriving gold mining town and is now an oasis for nature lovers wanting a genuine wilderness experience. Stay in self-contained retreats, historic miners’ cottages, backpackers or camp sites and the local hotel serves up Tasmanian produce with a healthy dose of Tasmanian hospitality. Source

We drove for approximately 2-3 hours without seeing anything except the vast and beautiful scenery of the Tarkine wilderness, and the odd vehicle.  It was a lovely drive and we eventually arrived at Smithton and our first stop was at a bakery for a late lunch as we were starving!


The Ark at Stanley
The Ark Bed and Breakfast at Stanley

We knew Stanley was just a bit further on and decided to stop for the night there and finally getting some phone reception started looking for accommodation.  We were fortunate to find a delightful Bed and Breakfast called The Ark with wonderful hosts Rhonda and Christer.

We settled into our Anderson Suite before heading out for a wander around this quaint little town which was featured in the movie ‘Light Between Oceans’.  In fact our B&B was a star in the movie with its prime position. I have to go back and re-watch the movie now!

The whole town was involved in the filming a few years ago and there were photo boards showing the town’s transformation throughout the village.  They are justifiably proud of their beautiful little village.

Antique shop in Stanley Tasmania
Antique shop in Stanley

The Nut

The historic village of Stanley is nestled at the base of the Nut, a sheer-sided bluff – all that remains of an ancient volcanic plug. It was once the headquarters of the Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) Company which was formed in 1824 during the reign of George IV.

The Nut is a prominent  landmark and a formidable walk up and down, but well worth it for the views. In the summer season there is a chairlift which you can take, as seriously, it is an almost vertical track in places.  We of course walked up and down – here’s a few shots of the views from the top, (the chairlift had closed for the season the day before anyway).

Highfield Historic House

Highfield House is an imposing Georgian house set on a magnificent site and was once the VDL Managers’ residence. It had fantastic views and we enjoyed our self guided tour throughout the site.

I think this quote from the tourist brochure says it all – Highfield may be made from brisks and mortar, but it means much more than that.  Highfield represents both the capacity of human endeavour towards both enterprise and disaster.  Curiously the house was built at a time when the Company was on the verge of ruin.  On this most spectacular site at the edge of the world, this is the story of either enterprise or folly, success or tragedy.  You decide!

Leaving Stanley: Wynyard – Burnie – Penguin – Devonport

Penguin statue at Penguin Tasmania with seagull on his head
Meet the real penguin of Penguin

After leaving Stanley, we made our way along the coast as much as we could, through the centres of Wynyard, Burnie and onto Devonport where we were to catch the boat the Spirit of Tasmania for our night sailing back to Melbourne.

We stopped at the popular beach-side town of Penguin along the way and had a delicious late lunch watching people take photos of the real Penguin of Penguin.  I featured the Penguin in my Not so Wordless Wednesday post on 21 June – and I told a funny (and true) story.

All in all, it was a great two week trip and we enjoyed every minute of it.  I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing a little about Tasmania through my posts and I’ve maybe whetted your appetite for a visit.  It’s  beautiful, historical and picturesque place for a holiday.

I could tell you so much more about these amazing places but you’ll just have to go and visit for yourself!

This is the final segment of our Tour de Tassie – you can find the other posts here:

Timeless Tarraleah

A Circuitous Route

Wild and Wonderful West Coast

Maria Island

Top 10 Tips for Two weeks of Travelling in Tasmania

A Convict journey at Port Arthur

Travel safely. Until next time!

Deb 😊

Travel to Tasmania's north west coast

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Debbie - mother of a 40 year old

Everyone has a story to tell! Deb is a young-at-heart & active 60+ blogger/retiree, after being made redundant from her 22-year career managing education programs in a men’s correctional centre (jail). She now spends her time reading, blogging, riding her ebike and travelling. Deb was awarded a Bravery Award from the Queen when she was 17 after a tragic accident – a definite life changing moment! She is married with 3 grown-up daughters & has 4 grandchildren. She never imagined being Granny Debs would bring so much joy to her life! You can read more of Deb’s story here

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40 Replies to “Tour de Tassie #6 – The white road through the Wilderness to Stanley”

  1. Hi Deb,
    I was delighted to come across your blog today and your tour around Tassie. My husband’s family first arrived in Tassie as early as 1828 and that ancestor headed straight to Stanley working for the VDL Company. We spent three weeks in Tassie in January this year. It was intended to show our kids where Daddy came from, but we spent much of our time also retracing my husband’s father’s footsteps. He was born in Penguin and his Mum passed away when he was nine and then Geoff’s Dad died when my husband was 16. So, our trip to Tassie was quite emotional but resonated withb meaning. I still miss the food and our wonderful travels. We have friends spending a month down there at the moment and other friends who moved down.
    I wrote about Tasmania for my A-Z April Blogging Challenge this year. Here’s my post about Stanley:
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That steep concrete walkway, easier to go up than down 🙂 Tasmania is so beautiful. It looked like you had a fab time touring around the island. Good post Deb!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am very wary of places I walk as a few weeks ago I fell and hit my head, now they call me Black Eye Suz 🙂 My own fault for talking and not watching where I was going. Think it gave everyone a fright more than me!! All good now, no concussion etc thankfully!!

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks, Deb, yes I am okay. Just annoyed that I had the people we are housesitting worried as they were with us when I did it. The walkways are so uneven over here, need to pay more attention in future and less talk! Strangely our elderly fathers decided to have a fall too in the last few weeks!!! That’s life!!

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Your wonderful post takes me back to Tassie when we toured in 2015. We never travelled on the White Road and we didn’t go to Smithton either. We spent a few nights in Stanley, which we found to be very charming. The wilderness areas of Tassie are mind-blowing and I would love to return to see some more. Thanks for taking me to a part of Tassie I haven’t explored.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Deb, My father was from Burnie so this area was his stomping ground. My mother sister and I went to Tassie to explore where he had come from after he died. I loved Stanley and The Nut but didn’t realise you could walk up it.( or perhaps I’ve forgotten). My husband have been talking about a trip there to explore. There are still parts I haven’t been to and others I would like to revisit. Next trip you should check out Boat Harbour (nice beach) after Burnie heading towards Stanley. I need to watch The Light Between the Ocean, Read the book and knew they were filming it there.

    Is that Highfield Historic building on top of the Nut?

    My paternal grandfather died while constructing the bridge across the Pieman River. He went to pick up a tool and walked through the scaffolding. His head hit a rock in the river. So much for OH&S in those days. My father was 5 months old and there were four older children. I really should find out where the bridge is so we can go and look at it.
    I enjoyed reading your Tassie posts. Will refer to them for our next trip. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, that’s really interesting Louise. Highfield House is o the point opposite The Nut and has spectacular views towards The Nut and out to sea. Your grandfather’s death at Pieman River is a sad story! It’s a beautiful area down there and we hadn’t been that way before so it was all very interesting. Thanks for coming along for the ride with us and I hope you get to visit there again one day soon.


  5. Tasmania certainly looks a beautiful place and I’ve added it onto my increasingly long bucket list of places to visit. I love the wilderness & scenery – although I wish I was there myself, I have certainly enjoyed being an armchair traveller. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved your photos and studying the maps! The Nut tugs at my heart, and Highfield is captivating, too! What a lovely journey! Some of the photos remind me of Whidbey Island in Washington State, US. I love your ease of description which carries us along on the journey with you!


    1. I’m so glad you feel like you’ve been on the journey with me, it means I’ve managed to express what we experienced. It was a beautiful area and we were so fortunate with the weather. Thanks for your supportive and encouraging comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, that looks like a different world to me. Your photos are amazing, well they always are! I would so love to come over to the other side of the globe once if it just wasn’t such a long journey. I hate sitting on a plane for all these hours. Flying ‘home’ to see my mummy takes me 4 hours, plus all the time you lose with getting to and from the airports etc. I will follow your great posts, virtually traveling with Debbie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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