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Published December 12th 2018
A sense of welcome
Clustered along both banks of the Duck River in far northwestern Tasmania is the town of Smithton, the largest centre in the Circular Head region. Not as internationally well known as the neighbouring town of Stanley, Smithton has its very own brand of warm country charm and a good range of shops, services and things to do.
Here, you can find most necessary things including supermarkets, fuel, banks, hardware, chemists, clothing stores, cafes, and specialty stores. A standout is the local art and handcrafts store The Arty Duck.
Luscious Tasmanian oysters from unshucked to Kilpatrick feature at Tarkine Fresh Oysters. There is an onsite café or you can buy takeaway, with or without a range of toppings! See their Facebook page for specials.
These ones were bought ready to cook with Rocky Point topping (sour cream, lemon,garlic,butter and breadcrumbs) Yum.
Get out on the water in a canoe or kayak on the Duck River and at Lake Mikany. Note that the Duck River is tidal so you need to time your visit and Lake Mikany is a water storage area and only manual and electrically powered watercraft are permitted.
If there is a Tasmanian town without some kind of amazing scenery and attractions I haven't found it yet and Smithton is no exception. The view from the Tier Hill scenic lookout (aka Apex Lookout) provides a sweeping panorama of the Duck River estuary and offshore islands.
Wildlife abounds here, expect to see pademelons (like a small wallaby), yellow-tailed black cockatoos, native hens (affectionately known locally as "turbo chooks" for their ability to bolt at warp speed), possums, eagles, wombats and possibly, if you are lucky, a glimpse of a Tasmanian devil. Whilst not counting as wildlife, there are plenty of sleek and contented cows decorating the paddocks in this green and pleasant land.
Tracing the history of the area, its people and industries, the Heritage Centre contains a range of artefacts, information for genealogical research and tourism. Staffed by volunteers the centre has limited opening hours - see their Facebook page for details
A beautiful river and waterfall. It's a fairly steep stairway down to the bottom of the falls however you can also get a good look from the viewing platform across the river if you're not feeling energetic. A little further up the road is the Big Tree with an impressive 17m waistline.
Soft sand, sea, salt air, beaches are always good. To get to this beach from Smithton take the Bass Highway towards Stanley, travel for approx 12 km then turn left into Anthony Beach Road and follow it to the car park for the beach.
Well described as a "breathtaking wilderness" doing all or even a part of this drive will take you to enchanting forests, lookouts, rivers, lakes and sinkholes. Some attractions are close to the road and some require walking - distance and time required are usually set out on signs.
The Tarkine Drive takes you to some natural wonderlands. Photo courtesy of N Hofman
Tarkine Forest Adventures is situated on the largest sink-hole in the southern hemisphere. Featuring some unique flora and fauna, there's a cafe, shop, a 110-metre slide to the swamp floor, boardwalk, sculptures and information boards.
Pretty much the only way to see Woolnorth as it is privately owned. Take a tour to experience Cape Grim, the northwestern point of Tasmania, see some incredible landscapes, a wind farm, historical buildings and learn about the area's history and agriculture. Highly recommended.
Like to stay awhile? There are plenty of accommodation options in Smithton. The Bridge Hotel has hotel and motel rooms, Riverbreeze Caravan and Cabin Park on the Duck River has powered and unpowered sites and cabins, Tall Timbers has hotel rooms, self-contained apartments and free RV parking (conditions apply) and there are a number of choices of individual cottages, bed and breakfast venues and holiday homes for rent.
The far north-west coast has a multitude of attractions whilst being far less busy than many of the more well-known spots in Tasmania. Smithton is @135km from Devonport - less than two hours drive - and a good, well-serviced base from which to explore the region.
Great article, Janice! I've only ever been to Tassie once - many years ago - and we stayed in Hobart. I must say I loved it there, if it wasn't so cold, I might have it on my holiday list more regularly!