Cycling Tasmania – Day 28
Marrawah to Stanley (via Forest)
80km, 640m elevation
Tasmania is known for exceptionally strong winds. I’ve been very lucky on my cycling trip so far, having gotten only one day of really strong winds and much of that was either at my side or my back. Well, today my luck changed. I battled through a headwind for most of the day, still enjoying myself but working a lot harder than usual.
I’d already cycled a quiet country road from Arthur River through Marrawah then to Smithton and enjoyed the rural scenery. Having found myself back in Marrawah for an extra night, this gave me the opportunity to cycle the main road for some variety. Marrawah has a fantastic long crescent beach that surfers love. It’s well worth the visit but – be warned – you’ll have a big hill to climb back up to the road. Even cars struggle to get up. This is the only hill in Tasmania that has convinced me to get off the bike and push. Once at the top, it’s reasonably flat all the way to Smithton with picturesque rural scenery to enjoy as you ride.
I continued past Smithton but instead of taking the Bass Highway, which becomes increasingly busy, I veered onto Back Line Road, a nice quiet country lane. There are a few more hills this way but you can’t beat the lost-in-time rural feel.
I was excited to get to Stanley, the most touristy town in Tasmania’s northwest but also one that is rich in natural beauty and history.
Stanley is most famous for “The Nut”, a volcanic massif that towers above the quaint town, providing a much-needed wind block and a landmark for the hundreds of little penguins who come ashore each evening after a long day at sea. You can take a chairlift to the top but the idea of spending more time on my butt after a long cycle didn’t hold much appeal. Fortunately, there’s a steep walkway that zigzags up the side and it’s sure to get your heart pumping.
Did I mention that Stanley has some great cuisine? There’s all kinds of fresh seafood, like oysters, crayfish, and ocean trout. Northwest Tasmania was originally settled as a sheep and wool producing area (with Stanley as headquarters for the entire area) and, while that largely failed, you can now find some of the best free-range grass-fed beef in all of Australia right here.
I’ve really enjoyed my brief stop in Stanley. It’s a much more happening town than the quiet farming communities and old mining towns I’ve visited lately, but it has its own charm. It’s certainly a stunning place. You could find yourself sitting on a bench for hours on end here just watching the world go by.
Up next, I jump ahead back to Tasmania’s East Coast.
If you’re planning your own cycling trip in Tasmania, you can see today’s track and download the gpx from strava.