Burnie, on the northern coast of Tasmania, faces Emu Bay and the Bass Strait, which divides the island state from the Australia mainland. Once a major paper-making and manufacturing center, the moderate-size city — now a creative hub — has a very pretty setting surrounded by hills and fronted by beaches frequented by penguins. It serves as a jumping-off point for excursions to coastal towns and expansive parks and reserves that shelter wildlife such as platypus and Tasmanian devils.
What We Love
Architecture: Many of Burnie's architectural gems were built during the height of its prosperity, beginning in the 1890s through World War II. You will see lovely bungalows with large covered verandas and elaborate woodwork; Federation Arts and Crafts-style houses with stone foundations, rough-hewn stone facades, generous use of shingles, and steeply pitched roofs; and good old Art Deco commercial buildings.
Lookouts: Burnie is a place that looks picturesque from all angles. Local sightseeing tours drive out to observation areas for long-range views of the city, Emu Bay, and the surrounding countryside.
Best Known For
Museums: There is a Regional Museum with exhibits on the evolution of the city, and the striking Makers' Workshop — part museum, part art center — showcases a collection of handicrafts studios producing everything from ceramics and paper to hats and violins.
Cradle Mountain: Roughly an hour and a half south of Burnie, Cradle Mountain — so named for its jagged shape that resembles a miner's cradle — makes for a popular shore excursion for its alpine heathlands, glacial lakes, and ancient rain forest.
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Who It's Best For
Cheese Lovers: Should you be a glutton for cheese, this region — with numerous pastures and dairy farms — is known for its excellent Brie, Camembert, blue, and Cheddar, and Scotch whiskey-making too.
Nature Fans: Burnie is a good base to access Tasmania's vast wilderness that's been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Not the Most Exciting Town: If you're not heading out on an excursion, you may find Burnie's offerings a bit humdrum compared with other parts of Australia. So be prepared to pick out the bits and pieces that might interest you and have a relaxing day.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.