Stanley is one of Tasmania’s most historic settlements. In the early nineteenth century it was headquarters of the Van Diemen’s Land Company, an important player in the early development of the colony. The Company was in effect a state within a state, doing pretty much its own thing in those parts of the island in which it had an interest.
Highfield House, set on a hill overlooking the town, was built between 1832 and 1835 as a residence for the chief agent of the Van Diemen’s Land Company. It’s impressive by the standard of Tasmanian historic buildings, though not of any great size or quality by the standards of the British Empire. However it’s difficult to grasp the significance of some of the decisions made here. In Highfield House deals were done, fortunes made and lives destroyed. Decisions made within these walls helped seal the fate of the aboriginal inhabitants of the island, and of the thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger)
Because of the long history of the Van Diemen’s Land Company it’s unsurprising that Stanley boasts a number of buildings of age and character:
It looks and feels quaint:
Coming right up to date, we learned while in the town that recently Stanley has been used as a location for the filming of The Light Between Oceans, based on a novel by M R Steadman. Julie read and enjoyed the book some time ago, and heartily recommends it.
However the most significant thing about Stanley is nothing manmade; rather, it is the topography, or, to put it another way the Stanley Nut. The town is dominated by the Nut, a vast, flat-topped rocky outcrop formed from the core of an extinct volcano. It is a looming presence, towering 152 metres above the town:
It’s possible to take a chairlift to the top, but the weather was cool and windy and we agreed that in the circumstances this was one experience we could manage without.
Our luxurious accommodation, on a hill overlooking Stanley gave fabulous views of the Nut, and the floor to ceiling windows ensured that it was never out of sight or mind. There was even a spa-bath strategically positioned to enable the bather to soak up the views while soaking in the bath. Here Julie is posing for the camera in the bath:
If you want any more you will need to use your imagination (or maybe just take a cold shower).