Welcome to The Nut at Stanley on Day 13 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. As you may recall, we’re Traveling Alphabetically Around Tasmania and now we’re halfway.
Well, I Hope you’re not all dying from a chocolate overdose, because we’re about to Carpe Diem, seize the day, and get back on the road. While I’m cruising around taking photos, I thought you could all go and climb the Nut…chocolate belly or not!
Just to recap. We’ve been camping beside the Meander River in Deloraine and today we’re off to The Nut in Stanley on Tasmania’s North-West Coast. That’s just over 2 hours’ (176.9 km) drive away.
By the way, I should warn you to make sure you specific Stanley, TASMANIA when you go into Google Maps. On my first search, I was directed to Stanley, VICTORIA and could have ended up submerged in Bass Strait instead. What the???!! Even with my dreadful sense of direction, I knew that was wrong!
Now, before you start getting cheeky and asking whether I’ve moved to Stanley, the Nut is an old volcanic plug discovered by the explorers Bass and Flinders in 1798, who named it Circular Head. It’s also been referred to as Tasmania’s “Gibraltar”. It has steep sides and rises to 143 metres with a flat top. It is possible to walk to the top of The Nut via a steep track or via a chairlift. However, we’ve been to Stanley twice and haven’t done either. On our first visit, we were on a day trip from Bridport in the North-East and didn’t have time. Unfortunately, when we were there in January, it was ridiculously windy and the chairlift was closed. Indeed, it was so windy, that you could barely eat your ice cream without it splattering all over your face, in your hair and would have been heading across Bass Strait into Victoria, if the wind had been heading that direction.
Before the arrival of Europeans, the area around Stanley was occupied by the Tommeginne Aboriginal people, who were slowly decimated as Europeans arrived and settled. In 1798, English explorers Bass and Flinders were the first Europeans to sight the Nut when they circumnavigated Van Diemen’s Land in the sloop Norfolk in 1798, proving that Tasmania was detached from the Mainland. Flinders described the Nut as a ‘cliffy round lump resembling a Christmas cake’. In 1825 the Van Diemen’s Land Company was granted land in north-western Van Diemen’s Land, including the Stanley area. Employees of the company from England started settling in the area from October 1826.
Recently, I found out that Geoff’s 3rd Great Grandfather, William Burke, worked in Stanley for the Van Dieman’s Land Company after they first arrived in Van Dieman’s Land in 1830. I can’t imagine what it would have been like living there for him and his wife Catherine and young sons John and Daniel (I mentioned the Burkes in a previous post about Jail Journal. They were one of the families who assisted Irish Exile John Mitchel escape to New York). They didn’t stay long.
Anyway, as you may recall, I put together an amalgamation of newspaper snippets on our last stop when we visited the Meander River. That was so much fun, that I’ve sandwiched together a few tales about The Nut:
“STANLEY. Octopus Grassed: An octopus was caught at the back of the Nut on Thursday by Capt. WE Leggett, and brought in to the wharf, where it attracted attention. When outstretched it measured about 7 feet from tip to tip of the tentacles. It was provided with a beak, much like that of a parrot, about three quarters of an inch long. Although it was not a large one, it could be seen that an octopus of this size would be a formidable object to meet in the water. During the past few days a large shark has several times been seen cruising about near tho deep end of the breakwater wharf.…Large Whales: On Friday morning four large whales were watched with interest as they sported in the bay, not a great distance from the breakwater…During the past two or three weeks dogs have been worrying sheep on the Nut. A number of sheep have been lost. War has been declared on dogs going on the Nut, and already some have met their doom. EXCITEMENT AT STANLEY.THE NUT DECAPITATED.STANLEY, May 23.About 3 o’ clock this morning the top of the Nut fell. Many thousands of tons of rock have fallen and the wheel of the large crane was smashed. There was a remarkable scene at the breakwater. The event caused great excitement. Fortunately it happened when the men were not working, otherwise many would have been killed…As a, deep-water port, Stanley, with its Old Barracks and Chapel (a relic of the “bad old days”), has attractions that more modern ports fail to possess, and if your “wind” is stout enough, a climb to “The Nut’s” top is well repaid by the entrancing view obtained….STANLEY.Lady Lost on the Nut: Some excitement was caused at Stanley last Saturday night when a rumour spread round the town that a lady had been lost round the Nut, and parties with lanterns went out in search… A Circular Head Phenomenon.’THE NUT CRACKED.’ TO THE EDITOR.Sir,— The old Nut still stands, though report says it is cracked, and no one can tell what queer prank may take place next, but it will take something to frighten us into opening our doors and windows, and fleeing for refuge to the open air about a mile distant a second time, leaving everything to the mercy of burglars…When perusing your journal of the 20th inst. I was somewhat amused on reading an interesting article giving a graphic account of a monster of gigantic proportions which the writer, signing himself. “The Nut,’ affirms to have seen stranded on Pelican Point some time back… BLOWING UP THE NUT FOUR THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED POUNDS OF DYNAMITE IN ONE CHARGE.UNSUCCESSFUL RESULTS (BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT ) [BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH] STANLEY.”
Well, after all that excitement, you’ll probably feel like some fish and chips, or a scallop pie, followed by an ice cream or possibly even some chocolate. I really enjoyed checking out the historic buildings in Stanley and you can even visit the birthplace of former Australian Prime Minister Sir Joseph Lyons.
You can read more about our visit to Stanley here: Blown Away By Stanley.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip to Stanley and are still somewhat conscious after climbing that monstrosity? Hopefully, we’ll make it up on the chairlift on our next visit.