The Stanley Hotel in Northwest Tasmania is wedged between the Tarkine Wilderness and the Ocean Wilderness of Bass Strait. It is a place that I had wanted to visit for a long time…
– James Woodford, The Wollemi Pine
I always enjoy making a sign for an establishment with a bit of history behind it and The Stanley Hotel in Tasmania is certainly one of these. One look at the building makes it clear that it has been around for a while, but – like a well-dressed elderly gentleman – it carries its age with style. The signs we made have been hanging for nearly six years now, and this week Tracy Jacobs, proprietor of The Stanley Hotel, has kindly written down a little about the history of the place:
The first Europeans arrived in ‘Circular Head’ in 1826. The township was later renamed ‘Stanley’ in 1842 after Lord Stanley. Stanley became a bustling community and the population was recorded as 233 in 1848. There were twenty shops, sixty houses and cottages, a church and parsonage, a school, house of correction, police office and magistrate’s house, customers house, post office – and of course the Stanley Hotel! During the 1850’s the sheltered deep-sea port was thriving and was essential for the farming districts as a service centre.
A certain John Whitbread was found guilty of poaching rabbits in England when he was just a boy (aged fifteen), and was sentenced to seven years in Van Diemen’s Land [now Tasmania]. He arrived in Hobart in 1828. As a convict, his record was one of good behaviour, and when he later settled in Stanley he became a fine citizen, businessman and host. He built the hotel and named it the Emily Hotel, now known as the Stanley Hotel. He bought the block on which it stands from the penal colony for 20 pounds and the building was licensed as a hotel around 1847.
In the book A Residence in Tasmania, published in 1856, Butler Stoney describes the Emily Hotel as it was in 1853. He said that on arrival in Stanley ‘a good and comfortable hotel rewards the weary traveller…Mr Whitbread’s establishment is a fine large stone-built house with many good and well-furnished rooms and every attention is paid to his guests’. The Hotel has been continually licensed since 1847 under various names: ‘The Emily’, ‘Freemason’s’, ‘The Union’ and now ‘The Stanley Hotel’.
Preserved houses and buildings with beautiful gardens, sea and rural vistas, the deep water harbour with fishing boats coming and going and a good selection of galleries, restaurants and cafes – all give the town a character of its own. You can spend time visiting the historic attractions, go fishing, play a game of golf, walk on beaches, eat great food made with the freshest ingredients or enjoy a chat with locals in the historic pub.
Stanley is also famous for the cleanest air in the world (measured at Cape Grim nearby) and the wide-open skies offer wonderful opportunities for stargazing with bright night skies revealing the magic of the constellations and the awe-inspiring Milky Way.
On purchasing The Stanley Hotel thirteen years ago, a major refurbishment (inside and out) was undertaken with the clear aim to ensure that the town’s only Hotel was a stand-out accommodation and dining destination. This vision has been rewarded with numerous awards from the Australian Hotels Association – Tasmania’s Best Bistro 2007, 2008, and 2009, Australia Best Bistro 2008, Tasmania’s Best Pub Style Accommodation 2008-13 and Tasmania’s best Country Hotel 2008.
A few years ago, on our travels, we saw a beautifully hand-crafted and painted sign at the entrance of Wrest Point, Hobart, advising of ‘Ducks Crossing’. The impact of the sign was such that it inspired us to review the signage at the Hotel and Danthonia’s signs were the style and quality that would suit our heritage building.
The designers were very patient with implementing our ideas and were very obliging to our changes and suggestions. The signs have been in place for six years and still look bright, colourful and show no sign of wear and tear. The signs create interest and tourists regularly take photographs of them.