The town of Wynyard is enclosed by verdant farmland and spellbinding coastline on Tasmania‘s North West Coast.
The first thing to mention the awesome geology.
Impossible to ignore to the north is the flat-topped volcanic plug of Table Cape, rising 180 metres over the sea.
Rows of tulips grow in the fertile basalt soils on the cape’s plateau, and Wynyard honours this flower with an annual festival in spring.
Closer to town is the banded sandstone cliff, Fossil Bluff, and specimens found in these rocks have expanded the world’s knowledge of prehistoric wildlife.
Also in Wynyard’s orbit is the exquisite Boat Harbour Bay, which is as close as you can get to the perfect family beach.
1. Table Cape
Looming over the coastline for miles is a massive basalt plateau rising 180 metres above the sea.
This is actually the remnants of a volcano dating back 12 million years, and the highest point of the plug is an unparalleled vantage point.
From here you can cast your gaze over undulating farmland to Tasmania’s inland mountain ranges, and landmarks like Low Head in George Town, over 100 kilometres to the east.
Table Cape Lighthouse, north of the lookout is the only operating lighthouse on Tasmania to open its doors to the public.
Information boards around the cape explain its volcanic origins as well as the cape’s significance to the Aboriginal Tommeginer clan.
2. Boat Harbour Beach
This beach about 15 minutes along from Wynyard is in the conversation for the very best in Australia.
Boat Harbour Beach is an upmarket seafront community huddled around an extremely photogenic bay.
This is backed by beautiful green countryside and has pretty much everything a family could want.
The beach has a shallow slope, and is shielded to the north by a headland, which helps keep the waves low.
On sunny days there’s a shimmering pool of clear, light blue water to bathe in.
At low tide you can wander along the bay and see what you can find in the rock pools, and children can run wild at a playground constructed in the sand.
And when you get thirsty or peckish there’s a bar at the surf life-saving clubhouse.
3. Table Cape Lighthouse
Perched on the edge of a sheer cliff is a lighthouse raised in 1888 in response to shipwrecks along this coast in the mid-19th century.
This was built with bricks imported from Victoria and stands 15 metres tall.
The last lighthouse keeper left in 1923 when the beacon went automatic.
Tours are available in the spring and summer months, and will give some insight about the building and the routine of its keepers.
The view is sublime of course, especially if you come in September when the tulip fields on the plateau are in bloom.
4. Fossil Bluff
The sandstone cliff that rises a little way north of the Inglis River Estuary at Freestone Cove is a real geological wonder.
For casual visitors there’s a lookout on the cliff-top 30 metres above the Bass Strait, where you can survey Wynyard, the sea, Table Cape and the river mouth.
For anyone intrigued by geology, the cliff’s beguiling sandstone strata have yielded fossil specimens like a Wynyardia bassiana, the oldest marsupial discovered in Australia, dating back 25 million years.
You can get down to the pebbly shore to do some beachcombing (the best fossil-hunting is done after rough seas), and ancient Aboriginal fish traps reveal themselves at low tide.
5. Wonders of Wynyard
More than a simple information point, Wynyard’s visitor centre integrates local history displays, an art gallery and an incredible collection of vintage cars.
The pick of these 14 vehicles is the world’s joint oldest ford, a Model A built in 1903 and in pristine condition.
The museum displays at Wonders of Wynyard dive into the area’s maritime heritage, Aboriginal stories and facts about the awe-inspiring natural landmarks all around.
The gallery meanwhile shows off the work of local artists in all kinds of media, from textiles to sculpture, painting and photography.
Much of this work is available for purchase, and if you need advice about your next steps in North West Tasmania there’s a small army of volunteers happy to help you out.
6. Table Cape Tulip Farm
The rich volcanic soils of Table Cape were first planted with tulips as recently as 1984, when the Roberts-Thompson family imported bulbs from the Netherlands.
Now more than 80 tulip varieties grow at Table Cape Tulip Farm, as well as liliums and Dutch irises.
Today the farm actually exports bulbs back to the Netherlands.
This interaction with the European county seems all the more fitting when you remember that Tasmania was named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who made the first European sighting of the island in 1642. Visit the farm at the end of September when tulips of all colours bloom in neat, narrow strips.
And after taking some cute photos you can check out indoor flower arrangements, flower art, purchase cut flowers and indulge in a Devonshire cream tea.
7. Gutteridge Gardens
Right on the south bank of the Inglis River Estuary is a pretty local park primed for calming walks, jogs and bike rides by the water.
This is the start of the Inglis River Track, which hugs the river for 12 kilometres.
And you can access the water via a boat ramp at the northern end of the gardens.
The park has barbecue shelters and public toilets, as well as a stage area, hosting big events in Wynyard’s calendar, like the Australia Day Celebrations and Bloomin Tulips, which we’ll talk about in more detail later in the list.
8. Bass Highway
Mostly tracking the Bass Strait, the 273-kilometre Bass Highway is a convenient and scenic way to get in touch with the North West of Tasmania.
This road runs west from Launceston to Marrawah, first touching the coast at Devonport and then alternating between scintillating sea views, coastal forest and bucolic farmland.
You can get from one end to the other in a matter of hours, but it’s worth breaking the drive into two days and then trying to decide between the many stops to make along the way.
There are grand old estates, waterfalls, gorgeous little villages, breathtaking headlands, cinematic beaches, dairies and a ton of interesting local museums for everything from Aboriginal culture to shipwrecks and 19th-century settlement.
9. Wynyard Foreshore Market
Below the mouth of the Inglis River, behind East Wynyard Beach there’s an outdoor market every first and third Sunday from 08:00 to 14:00. Dozens of stalls line the path along the foreshore, selling home-baked cakes, homemade jams and preserves, plants, arts and crafts, collectibles and all manner of second-hand items.
The Wynyard Foreshore Market also contributes to the Bloomin Tulips Festival in September and October, while later in the year there are weekly Friday night twilight markets in the run-up to Christmas.
10. Penguin Spotting
The coastline around Wynyard is particularly sensitive as it’s a habitat for the little penguin.
As the smallest penguin species in the world, this bird grows to a height of just over 30 centimetres.
What’s amazing is that the species exists at close proximity to houses, roads and built-up areas.
At Wonders of Wynyard you’ll be able to arrange a free tour with a local expert to view nesting areas and find out more about the penguins’ behaviour and diet.
Fifteen minutes east in Burnie you can also drop by the Little Penguin Observation Centre in Burnie.
There you can take a privileged glimpse at the penguins’ seasonal life, from courtship to chick rearing and then the moulting that follows breeding season.
11. Rocky Cape National Park
Not far west of Wynyard the coastline is protected by a national park continuing for several kilometres to just beyond the namesake cape.
People come for day walks, on trails ranging from 200 metres to 15 kilometres.
Rocky Cape’s gnarled rocks are the oldest in Tasmania, and this Precambrian quartzite has been jostled over many millions of years into bizarre formations.
There’s a working lighthouse cresting the cape, built in 1968 and with a square concrete tower.
Evidence of Aboriginal habitation has been found in the park, dating back 8,000 years, at rock shelters and caves (some closed to the public). You can hike over spectacular forested hills or idle by the Bass Strait at the sensational Sisters Beach.
12. Fern Glade Reserve
The reason you have to explore the lush banks of the Emu River, east of Burnie is to catch a glimpse of one of Australia’s most beloved animals.
Walking by the water Fern Glade Reserve you’ll have a great chance of seeing a platypus in the wild.
These are normally spotted surfacing or occasionally frolicking on the banks.
And even if these shy creatures stay out of sight, the reserve is a delight, with lush tree ferns, a diversity of orchids (more than 12 different kinds) and fungi among the bush.
You may spot a wallaby bouncing around, while there are barbecues, picnic areas and toilets to make your visit a little more comfortable.
13. Lobster Ponds
Another unique animal native to the island is the humungous Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish.
This threatened and protected species is the world’s largest freshwater invertebrate, known to grow to more than 80 centimetres long and weigh six kilograms.
Such is their size that when they’re mature they have no natural predators and can live for 60 years.
And you can see them at the volunteer-managed Lobster Ponds, about 10 kilometres in from Wynyard.
Thursday to Sunday you can take a guided tour around the sanctuary, couched in dairy country among picturesque Tasmanian woodland and gardens, learning about this remarkable creature and seeing it up close.
There’s also a cafe on site for a cuppa and light snack.
14. Wynyard Golf Club
Occupying the very tip of the peninsula south of Fossil Bluff is a windswept 9-hole links golf course, welcoming non-members.
Wynyard Golf Club is well maintained and has a bar normally open Thursday to Saturday.
But the experience hinges on the breathtaking scenery, with unbroken views up to Table Cape and Fossil Bluff.
The fifth green, set right over the water and looking along the rocky coastline, is something special.
As of 2020 green fees were a reasonable $20 per person.
15. Bloomin Tulips Festival
For three weeks in late-September and early-October, Wynyard celebrates springtime in style with a whole program of events.
The festival was born in the early-1990s, and now pulls in thousands of visitors each year.
The schedule has something for all-comers, and includes live music, photography exhibitions, a 5K fun run and stalls for cut tulips, local produce and arts and crafts.
The biggest date in the calendar falls on a Saturday in October, when you can catch live entertainment, street performers, rides, children’s activities, a fireworks display and much more in Gutteridge Gardens.