Burnie & The Northwest


Credit: Tourism Tasmania & George Apostolidis

Burnie overlooks Emu Bay, on the north-west coast.  This proudly industrial city is Australia’s fifth largest container port and a vibrant place to visit.Burnie was once surrounded by dense rainforest, but this slowly disappeared as fortunes were made felling and milling timber.  The paper and pulp mill on the city’s outskirts operated from 1938 to 1998.Today, Burnie has a population of almost 19,000. You can visit the Burnie Park and animal reserve, or Australia’s biggest eucalypt tree farm. The Pioneer Village Museum will provide you with a detailed account of the city’s history, while at Lactos Cheese Factory you can treat your palate to fine wine and the 2006 World’s Best Camembert.
One of the town’s most distinctive attractions is the Creative Paper Mill, which features the work of local and visiting artists, including roo poo hand-made paper and wonderful life-size paper sculptures. You can even get your hands wet making your own paper.

Test your stamina in Australia’s premier 10-kilometre road race, the Burnie Ten, held every October for runners and walkers of all calibres.  Burnie is close to the Fernglade Platypus Sanctuary and Guide Falls, and approximately 90 minutes’ drive from Cradle Mountain.

Burnie was first explored by Bass and Flinders and was known as Emu Bay when it was settled by the Van Diemen’s Land Company in 1827.

Burnie experiences temperate conditions, with an average maximum of 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) in January and 13.5 degrees Celsius (56.5 degrees Fahrenheit) in June.

The city is 30 minutes’ drive west of Devonport or 152 kilometres (94.5 miles) north-west of Launceston on the A1.

From the Spirit of Tasmania’s berth at Devonport to the rugged north-west corner of our island is a region of pretty villages, historic buildings, rocky shores, caves and fertile farmland. Life here is simple and sustaining & hosts are welcoming, meals are generous and the cares of the 21st century seem a lifetime away.

Close to Devonport itself are the picturesque beaches of Port Sorell and the historic town of Latrobe, famous for its chocolates and platypuses.

The backdrop to the main part of your journey, however, is the Great Western Tiers, known to the Aboriginal people as Kooparoona Niara.  Behind this enormous escarpment sits the protected World Heritage Area of mountains and valleys, lakes and forests. Beneath the surface are extensive limestone caves in the Mole Creek Karst National Park.
Mount Roland looms magnificently over fertile pastures around Sheffield, known as the town of murals, You can discover the history of the Kentish district from the murals themselves, or in local museums, but there are also many galleries and studies to browse in.

Along the coast, Penguin and Ulverstone have a seductive beachside charm, and even the industrial port of Burnie has transformed itself into a creative centre. Look for Creative Paper, Lactos Cheese factory and tasting centre, and then top it off with a visit to Hellyers Road Distillery to try its superb single-malt whiskey.

Follow the coast westward, beside Bass Strait: massive bluffs nudge out into the sea – Table Cape, just beyond Wynyard, flat-topped and fertile, with flowering tulips carpeting its fields in spring and Circular Head, where the historic village of Stanley sits leeside of the steep-sided Nut.

Overlooking Stanley is Highfield Historic Site, built in 1832 for the Van Diemen’s Land Company’s chief agent. Continue west to Smithton, centre for the region’s productive agricultural and thriving forestry operations.

From Smithton, the highway begins its last leap westward to Arthur River and the legendary surfing beaches of Marrawah. On the far north-west tip is the historic property of Woolnorth and land’s end is Cape Grim, where sea air, tested as the world’s cleanest, sweeps in on the winds of the Roaring Forties.

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