Heading by Smithton and want to know what to do in Smithton Tasmania for an awesome time? We have you covered! Below you will find our guide to all the best Smithton attractions to plan your ultimate trip as well as everything else you need to know to make your time in Smithton Tas a success!
Smithton is a regional hub located along the banks of the Duck River, just west of Stanley. While it’s not an ultra exciting place for tourists, it does have many services and facilities and is in a handy location near many attractions in this part of Tasmania including historic Stanley and the Tarkine.
Below, you will find our Smithton blog with everything you need to know about the best places to visit in Smithton as well as the best Smithton accommodation for your ultimate holiday in this part of the world. There is also a handy Smithton map of everything you need and information about Smithton weather.
Introduction to Smithton, Tasmania
A town on the far north-west coast of Tasmania, Smithton is the very last stop before Arthur River and the beginning of the Tarkine Wilderness. A beautiful drive from Devonport, (approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes) takes you along the well maintained Bass Highway and the rugged north coast.
Smithton Tasmania history stretches back to 1825 when the site was included in a grant made to the Van Diemen’s Land Company. Europeans didn’t arrive in earnest until the 1850s, yet still the town was slow to take off until a regular rail service – the Marrawah Tramway – began in 1913.
From the early 1900s the town has been the centre of the Circular Head municipality and today this pretty little coastal town is an important industrial centre for the northwest coast. Sitting in the shadow of The Nut – a volcanic plug that rises almost 200 metres from the ocean on a nearby peninsula – and found at the mouth of the Duck River on Duck Bay, on a clear day you’ll see across the Bass Strait to Perkins and Robbins Islands.
The population of Smithton Tasmania is close to 4000 people, and townsfolk concentrate on farming – dairy, beef and vegetables – with industries such as dairying (butter and cheese), meat processing and sawmilling the main economies, alongside commercial fishing. Incredibly green and lush – thanks to a heavy annual rainfall and the Roaring Forties – Smithton is recognised as having some of Australia’s best farmland.
Expect to find many adventure-seekers and hikers, lured by the rugged lands of far northwest Tasmania and the wilderness beyond. There’s also a surfer vibe to the town, with extreme surfers daring to catch the massive waves of nearby Marrawah.
And wildlife is abundant, with pademelons (similar to a small wallaby), native hens (locally known as “turbo chooks”!), possums, eagles, wombats, and colourful birds such as the yellow-tailed black cockatoos. Plus, as with almost all of Tasmania, there is epic scenery at almost every turn, awesome sunrises and sunsets, and big-sky country that simply dazzles at night with thousands of stars.
Things To Do In Smithton, Tasmania
Here are the best things to do in Smithton. Read through and select the ones that fit your interests and timeframe.
Visit The Circular Head Heritage Centre
Circular Head covers the most north-west region of Tasmania, including the major towns of Arthur River, Marrawah and Stanley, with Smithton the largest. Established way back in 1901, Circular Head contains some of Tasmania’s most beautiful forest reserves such as the Tarkine, stunning waterfalls (Dip Falls and Wes Beckett Falls), the Arthur Pieman Conservation Area and the Rocky Cape National Park.
The history of this sprawling region of almost 4,900 square kilometres – yet home to only 8,000 people – can best be discovered at The Circular Head Heritage Centre, in the heart of Smithton.
Housing a large collection of photos and artifacts that explain the history of the Circular Head region, they paint a picture of what it is like living and working in such a remote part of Tasmania. With many having been donated by local families, the photos show both the cultural and economic history.
Located in a historic building in King Street, visitors can browse at leisure or use the Family History research room to trace genealogy.
Open Tue-Fri, 10am to 3.30pm. More details can be found here.
Address: 8A King St, Smithton.
Eat Some Tarkine Fresh Oysters
It’s almost impossible to visit Duck Bay without trying what has become one of the top Smithton Tasmania attractions… Oysters!
Tarkine Fresh Oysters was founded by Jonathon Poke and he’s been growing oysters at Duck Bay for over 40 years. His passion is evident, offering only “fresh on the day” harvested and shucked oysters.
A quick oyster lesson… the highest meat to shell ratio equals the best oyster possible. And that’s what you’ll find here. Why are they so good? Well, they’re harvested fresh from Duck Bay which has a perfect rise and fall in the tide for growing oysters. Plus, Smithton has some of the highest rainfall in Australia’s south, helping to provide nutrient rich water all year round.
Surprisingly first introduced by the Japanese in 1946, these pacific oysters take around 24 months to reach maturity, which basically means the right size to taste delicious!
Visit the Smithton shop and enjoy fresh oysters with lemon, a special mignonette or even fresh salsa. Open Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm for takeaway or 11am-3pm for seated dining. Bookings are preferred.
Address: 21/25 West Esplanade, Smithton
See The Amazing View From The Nut
The Nut is one of my favourite attractions in this part of Tasmania and it’s not to be missed!
The remains of an ancient volcanic plug, The Nut rises 143 metres from Bass Strait by the nearby town of Stanley. About a 20 minute drive from Smithton, you’ll see The Nut well before you reach it. In fact, you’ll probably see it on your way to Smithton.
The Nut is best explored up close, however, and you can take a chairlift ride or hike to the top. Once of the top, there are stunning views over Stanley and the surrounding area. There is also a track around the mostly flat top which I highly recommend. It takes about 45 minutes with stops to take in the views and read the information boards and is highly enjoyable.
Explore Highfield Historic Site
Located two kilometres from Stanley with the best views of The Nut, Highfield Historic Site is the best place to go to learn more about the history of this area.
Built in 1835, this homestead is a great example of architecture from the Regency period. It was the first in this part of the state. It’s open most days for self-guided tours of its buildings and grounds which includes the main double storey house and the ruins and buildings left nearby including the chapel, cart shed, stables, other cottages and more.
The house and buildings are set up and furnished similarly to how they would have been and there are many information boards to help explain this part of the state’s history. It’s an interesting place to explore and it’s worth a visit while you are checking out The Nut.
Make sure you walk to the part of the grounds closest to The Nut for the best view I have seen of this.
Address: Highfield, 143 Green Hills Rd, Stanley
Experience The Stanley Seal Cruise
Interested in seals? Learn more about Australian Fur Seals and get up close on a Stanley seal cruise.
Departing from Stanley, these 75 minute boat trips take passengers to Bull Rock, Cow Rock and Calf Rock which are named based on their size. On these rocks in Bass Strait are generally big groups of seals. This is a great way to get to see and learn more about them.
It’s not just seals that feature on this cruise, and it’s also perfect for bird watchers. In the right season, you may also get to see a Southern Right Whale which is an incredible experience.
In November and December, it’s extra good to take one of these cruises thanks to the fact that seal pups are born around then and many can often be visible on the rocks.
This cruise is also a great way to see more of The Nut and the jagged coastline around here.
Note at the time of publishing, these cruises weren’t running but they should start again soon! Check with the operators here.
Address: 6 Wharf Rd, Stanley
Relax At The Beach
There are stunningly wide expanses of beach near to Smithton, where you can take a picnic for the day or even camp overnight (often for free). Here’s just a taster of what’s on offer.
- Between Smithton and Stanley is Anthony Beach, stretching from Eagle Point on the eastern side of Duck Bay and curving to the east for a staggering 13 kilometres! A wide expanse of beach, you’ll find cyclists, sometimes 4WD vehicles, dogs, horses, the odd roaming cow, windsurfers, kitesurfers and fishermen. Known locally as Seven Mile Beach, the soft sand and invigorating salt air makes for a classic day-at-the-beach. To get here from Smithton, take the Bass Highway towards Stanley approximately 12 kilometres and turn left into Anthony Beach Road.
- Green Point Beach, 40 minutes along the Bass Hwy at nearby Marrawah, is quintessentially Tassie! Wild, rugged and exposed, it’s renowned for a point break with quite reliable surf. Voted as one of the top 3 surfing beaches in Australia, there’s a small picturesque camping area which gets really busy in the Summer when the surf is strong. And for those not surfing, check out the great scenery with views of Cape Grim and distant wind turbines. There are also many Aboriginal rock carvings at Green Point, making this an interesting stopover.
- The opposite side of Smithton you’ll find Peggs Beach. A truly idyllic stretch of beach, Peggs Beach Conservation Area is a no-frills location. You’ll find no facilities here, yet that only adds to the paradise and serene feel to the bay. Dog and horse friendly, keep cameras or binoculars at the ready in this conservation area as it’s a firm favourite for bird watchers. Bush birds can be seen darting around in the coastal shrubs, honeyeaters and other Australian native birds flit around, along with sea eagles sweeping the high skies. And hang around for dusk when possums, wallabies and even Tasmanian devils come out of the bush in hunt of food. To access Peggs Beach Conservation Area, turn off the Bass Highway (A2) about 11 kilometres east of the Stanley junction, or 14 kilometres west of the Rocky Cape turn-off.
And there are others to discover, such as North Shore Beach running along the northern side of Perkins Island. Separated from the mainland by a shallow 200-m wide tidal channel called The Jam, cross this by vehicle at low tide. Or check-out Black River Beach, near to Peggs Beach, a pleasant riverside and beachside camping area that is extremely popular in Summer.
You won’t run out of beach options in Smithton!
Have A Great Adventure In The Tarkine
The Tarkine, named after an Aboriginal tribe that once inhabited this western Tasmania coastline, is epic Tassie wilderness. Mainly undisturbed by man, the Tarkine is famed for its rare cool temperate rainforest. Also known as ‘moss forests’, these are found only in high places that have a heavy rainfall, creating a lush rainforest that is often covered in mist.
Covering 450,000 hectares of land that includes rainforest, sea misted dunes, large plains of button grass and mountains covered in forest, there are no recognised borders or maps that mention the Tarkine Region. However, it is generally agreed that it covers the Arthur River to the north, the Pieman River to the south and the Murchison Highway to the east.
An extraordinary place of natural beauty, plus a large number of Aboriginal sites and a history of gold and tin mining, there’s lots to discover throughout the Tarkine.
Best explored by self-drive, you’ll find remote beaches and sand dunes, waterfalls, forest vistas and Dismal Swamp, the largest Blackwood sinkhole in the southern hemisphere!
Many visitors head to Corinna whether for camping or home-stay style accommodation. At the southern end of the Tarkine Region, this is a wonderful spot to make home for a few nights whilst exploring the surrounding wilderness. From here, you can make a crossing on the renowned Fatman Barge across the Pieman River or head up the river further on a Pieman Cruise.
On the northern side of the Tarkine, you’ll find Arthur River. A tiny town built at the westernmost point of Tasmania that offers a stunning cruise along the same-named Arthur River, surfing beaches, historical Aboriginal sites and the turbulent Edge of the World.
Wherever you visit within the Tarkine, wild nature surrounds you, leaving you often feeling that your the only people around for miles. Keep alert for wildlife such as the increasingly rare Tasmanian devil, the threatened orange-bellied parrot, and a myriad of other birds and small mammals.
Travel by car, 4WD, bicycle, helicopter or by foot.
Drive from the north to south of the Tarkine or vice versa via the Western Explorer Highway. An unsealed road, the Western Explorer takes visitors from Arthur River through to Corinna and from there it’s the crossing of the Pieman River using the Fatman Barge. Due to the road conditions, the 100 kilometre journey can take longer than 2.5 hours.
You can also drive on sealed roads to Corinna using the Murchison Highway and then turn off on the B23 through to Corinna. This drive still offers great access to the Tarkine, just with less remoteness and a shorter travel time.
During your stay in Tasmania Smithton you can easily spend two or three days getting lost and off-grid in the wilds of the beautiful Tarkine.
Go To The Edge of the World
Just south of the mouth of the Arthur River, the Edge of the World, North West Coast, Tasmania, is the nickname for an area actually called Gardiners Point. This isolated part of the state is a coastal spot that offers unending views across the Great Southern Ocean to Argentina over 15,000 kilometres away, hence the nickname!
True to its name, you won’t find much here except for the relics of ancient trees that lay white from the salt, half buried in sand drifts. Rugged rocks, rough rolling waves, dramatic Roaring Forties winds. Nature is hard at work here.
Take the boardwalk that leads from the carpark to the lookout, all the time listening to the pounding of the crashing waves and the howling of the wind. You’ll enjoy amazing views, especially of coastal rocks covered in flaming orange lichen, and information boards help explain the nature and indigenous heritage of the area.
A plaque displays a poem that starts, ‘I cast my pebble onto the shore of eternity, to be washed by the oceans of time’… so, throw your pebble and marvel at the beauty of the world and the strength of mother nature.
Take An Arthur River Cruise
In the far northwest of Tasmania, the small settlement of Arthur River is your jumping off point for an unforgettable cruise into the Tarkine Wilderness Area.
A quiet fishing town, its remoteness means that the Arthur River area is unspoiled by tourism. A favourite location for bushwalkers and fishing enthusiasts, this is off-the-beaten-track wild Tassie.
And what better way to appreciate the beauty of the landscape than by a gentle glide along the Arthur River into forests with trees that have stood the test of time? As you depart, the shoreline is covered in coastal heath which quickly changes to wet rainforest, before melting into the temperate rainforest that the Tarkine is most famous for.
And keep alert for endemic wildlife such as the Tasmanian devil, or watch white-bellied sea eagles swooping for fish. Cameras at the ready for platypus or bright azure kingfishers. And listen to tales from your boat crew as they explain the rich indigenous history of the Tarkine.
Cruises usually come with a BBQ lunch, set amongst the giant ferns and ancient trees, and include a gentle rainforest walk. Lasting approximately 5-6-hours, including the lunch stop, this is a full day into-nature experience that you will remember for a lifetime!
Address: 1429 Arthur River Rd, Arthur River
Where Is Smithton Tasmania?
Located on the far north west coast of Tasmania, Smithton is located on Duck Bay about an 18 minute drive from Stanley or just over an hour from Burnie. It’s a convenient spot for exploring the Tarkine.
Devonport To Smithton
It’s about an hour and 35 minutes to get from Devonport to Smithton.
If you don’t have access to a car, it’s possible to get a bus from Devonport to Burnie and then a bus from Burnie to Smithton. Buses do not run frequently so your own car is recommended.
Smithton Tasmania Map
Smithton Accommodation Tasmania
For a small town, there is a good range of Smithton Tasmania accommodation as well as a Smithton caravan park.
Below, I have listed three choices of accommodation in Smithton Tasmania to consider based on different choices for different budgets and needs.
Tall Timbers Hotel, Smithton, is a combination of hotel and self-contained apartments that are walking distance from the centre of town.
The 59 modern hotel rooms come with ensuite bathrooms and are offered with double or twin beds whereas the 8 luxury lakeside apartments – one or two-bedroom – are your home-from-home option with kitchen and laundry facilities.
Tall Timbers Hotel Smithton Tasmania also offers a heated indoor pool, fitness centre, tennis courts, relaxing spa, and a BBQ area within the beautiful grounds. Plus you’ll find an onsite restaurant and a couple of bars for a nice nightcap!
Ideal for couples looking for a comfortable stay, the hotel is our luxury accommodation option for Smithton. And when you’re stuck for what to do next, drop by the Tall Timbers Tasmania Smithton tour desk, where the staff will help you arrange 4WD tours, wilderness experiences or even an epic helicopter flight over the Tarkine!
MID-RANGE – River Breeze Caravan And Cabin Park Review
This Smithton Tasmania caravan park is set on the lovely banks of the Duck River in easy walking distance to the town centre. And it’s noted as the most western park with powered sites and full amenities on the North West coast of Tasmania.
Beautiful gardens – attracting some stunning bird life – surround the grassed powered and unpowered sites. There are also sweet cabins offered with river or garden views.
All guests are welcome to use the communal facilities which include a laundry area and BBQ grill pits. An on-site shop sells all necessities and there’s free WiFi for everyone.
You’ll find this pet and family-friendly caravan park, Smithton Tasmania, a clean, sociable and relaxing place to stay – with many impromptu happy hours enjoyed on the deck overlooking the river.
BUDGET – Bridge Hotel Smithton Review
This small motel was recently refurbished and is a great place to stay if you’re looking for cheap accommodation, Smithton Tasmania. Situated right next to the Duck River and not far from the Smithton town centre, it’s an ideal base for exploring the area.
Modern rooms come with flatscreen TV and cable channels and are offered in various sizes. Budget or Superior rooms are designed for single, double, triple or family bookings. The largest, the Superior Family, is good for four guests and you’ll find a couple of the rooms have ensuite so ensure to ask when booking.
Included across all reservations is a continental or a-la-carte breakfast, parking and WiFi in public areas.
This Smithton Hotel, Tasmania, has a shared kitchen for a quick self-arranged lunch or dinner, or a restaurant and bar if you feel like treating yourself!
You could also consider basing yourself in nearby Stanley. You can read our full accommodation guide to Stanley here.
Compared to the rest of Australia, Smithton experiences exceptionally high wind speeds due to the Roaring Forties that pick up speed as they blow in from across the ocean from South America. There is also significant rainy weather, Smithton Tasmania, with even the ‘driest month’ recording a lot of rain!
The weather in Smithton Tasmania is best in Summer, a short period from December to February. Even then maximum temperatures only reach daytimes highs of 19 degrees and a rather nippy 11 degrees overnight. Winter, between June and August, hits 12 degrees in the daytime and down to a chilly 5 degrees at night.
Overall February is probably the best month to visit, with lower rain levels and warmish temperatures.
Smithton has a good range of services and facilities in this part of Tasmania for people looking for some shopping and eating options. It’s a convenient location from which to explore the Tarkine and Stanley.
Sharon grew up in Tasmania, moved away and then came back with her family twenty years later. She loves re-discovering her home state and sharing it with you here.