Appreciating Australia: Wynyard and Table Cape
For now, life in Australia, looks a lot different to when we first launched this, our On the Map series.
In some parts of the nation, COVID-19 related lockdowns are still in full effect while, in others, restrictions continue to ease.
Yet, for all concerned, there’s nothing quite like a sobering second wave of the pandemic to remind us of those ‘little’ things that, really, mean so much.
Like the places we call home, the places we can’t wait to get back to, and the places we’ll finally get around to visiting just as soon as the times allow.
In our last blog, we visited Main Beach on the Gold Coast to discover what puts the coastal gem on the map, and how locals can support the businesses that help make their community special.
And today? We’re heading to side-by-seaside towns in Tassie…
Welcome to Wynyard and Table Cape, Tasmania
Located in the north-west of the Apple Isle, almost due south from Melbourne across Bass Strait, you’ll find two peas in a coastal pod: Wynyard and Table Cape.
There are two main ways to get to Wynyard and its hop-skip-and-a-jump-away neighbour: by air or by road.
From the skies, take in coastal views including the aptly named Fossil Bluff as you wing your way to Burnie Airport. (Fun fact: Just a five-minute drive to the centre of town, the airport is actually closer to Wynyard than Burnie itself.)
Or, for a mix of coast and countryside views, take the 60-kilometre road trip from the comparatively bigger smoke of Devonport to the east.
Either way, you’ll have arrived in relaxed seaside hamlets that are ready and waiting for you to unwind.
Bringing connectivity to the table
The dizzying coastal heights of Table Cape are thanks to a 13-million-year-old volcano.
And not only did it help form the striking 180-metre high natural wonder with a sheer drop to the sea, its basalt lava flows are also responsible for the fertile farming soils atop the plateau and that cascade below.
While Table Cape – located seven kilometres north of Wynyard – is renowned for its colourful springtime tulips, the red loam soil has also been used to grow a wide range of produce, as well as raise cattle and sheep.
Then there’s the sweeping coastal views that made Table Cape the ideal location for a lighthouse.
In 1888, Table Cape Lighthouse lit up the skyline for the first time and can still be visited today≠ as the only operating lighthouse open seasonally in mainland Tassie.
Like so many towns, cities and suburbs across Australia, visitors play a key role in supporting the livelihoods of those living and working in Wynyard and Table Cape.
“Tourism holds a special potential for the north west coast, a gateway to some of the wildest places in the country,” says Russell Kelly, nbn™ local Manager for Tasmania.
“Wynyard and nearby Table Cape are a tourism mecca with scenic beach living and a relaxed lifestyle.
“The Winged House on Table Cape is one of my personal favourites.
“The award-winning house, designed with two aerodynamic ‘winged’ rooves, juts out over Bass Strait with unsurpassed views and is a world away from city cares.
“But, guess what? Even here, it’s still connected to services over the nbn™ network, making it the perfect place for a getaway to focus on what’s important – while still being able to keep in touch with family, friends and loved ones, and all the modern conveniences that connectivity brings.”
The Tommeginer people
Wynyard and Table Cape are among the lands of Traditional Custodians, the Tommeginer people.
They were one of eight groups that made up “a loose knit, social and economic confederation of maritime tribes” that stretched from Table Cape to Cape Grim, then south on the west coast almost down to Macquarie Harbour.
The connected, winged house
And with its rugged beauty comes the opportunity to experience Table Cape in luxurious surrounds at The Winged House.
Perched west of the Table Cape Lighthouse, like a biplane ready to glide effortlessly over Bass Strait, the architecturally designed, fully serviced luxury accommodation offers up 180-degree ocean and coastal views, plus more than two hectares of lush Tasmanian terrain to explore.
“We’ve had guests from all over the world including North America, Europe, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and, before COVID-19, the rest of Australia,” says Quentin Dempster who, along with his wife Elizabeth, has owned The Winged House for 12 years.
While the couple live in Sydney, they employ locals from the Table Cape area to help them maintain and run the popular accommodation.
Connected to services over the nbn™ network, Quentin says having an internet connection is ubiquitous and vital to the success of the business, with guests nowadays bringing devices like phones, laptops and iPads along for their stay.^
Providing guests with free internet via services over nbn™ Sky Muster™ satellite technology has been invaluable, says Quentin.
“The nbn™ Sky Muster™ satellite has been performing well and we’ve been very grateful for the increase in data limits during COVID-19."^
Guests tend to find The Winged House by browsing online, as well as by “visiting the Australian Tourism database, which has been a great help to the local Tasmanian economy,” says Quentin.
“The beauty of Table Cape and Tasmania is that it’s so close to mainland Australia. Burnie Airport is about 10 minutes away, and you can come via sea with the Spirit of Tasmania out of Devonport, which is an hour away. Mind you, this was all before COVID-19.”
Unsurprisingly, The Winged House is among the tourism businesses in Australia hit hard by the pandemic.
“When the lockdowns first began in March to protect Tasmania from COVID-19, like every other tourism operator in Tasmania, the business disappeared overnight.
“We had to either refund our guests who had to cancel their stay with us or give them credit vouchers for a future stay.
“Since then, we’ve put in a COVID-safe policy, and since intrastate movement has been allowed in Tasmania, we’re grateful that the people of Tasmania are looking to get away and come back to us.”
Fortunately, The Winged House is starting to see things slowly lift.
“We’re starting to get bookings back again. Like any business dependent on travellers, we’re absolutely dependent on them.”
Three things to do in Wynyard and Table Cape
Soak up the views from Table Cape Lighthouse
Smiles for miles at Ransley Veteran Ford Collection
One for the motorheads and history-lovers alike, the Ransley Veteran Ford Collection houses a world-class garage of lovingly restored iconic Fords. No question about who he’d pick in the century-old Ford-vs-Holden debate, owner Francis Ransley set up the permanent exhibition of more than 14 historical Ford rides to be admired by visitors.
Arguably, the shining hood ornament of this Ford fleet is a 1903 Model A, which has bragging rights as the equal-oldest Ford to be found anywhere in the world. In 2003, this old beauty showed she was built to last when Ransley toured around more than 28,000km of Australia as part of Ford’s centenary-year celebrations.
Spot fossils at Fossil Bluff
When you’re visiting an idyllic seaside town, it’s a safe bet that there’s an emphasis on the natural sights. Case in point, Fossil Bluff. Head up the bluff at high tide for breathtaking panoramic views. At low tide, head down to the beach to catch a glimpse of prehistoric fossils trapped in the sandstone layers. Professional and amateur conchologists alike will likely appreciate the abundance of low-tide shells, too.
For more ‘rocking’ sights, keep an eye out for a low and flat grey rock that’s both east and west of the beach: the Wynyard Tillite. A 280-million-year-old rock formation, it’s been around since Australia was an ancient super continent. Get up close to spy all manner of other rocks – granites and quartzes among them – both in the tillite and in pebble form on the beach.
≠At the time of publishing, tours aren’t currently running due to COVID-19.
^nbn is very happy with Quentin’s experiences with the nbn™ network. Of course, end customer experiences may vary. An end customer’s experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ network, depends on the nbn™ network technology and configuration over which services are delivered to their premises, whether they are using the internet during the busy period, and some factors outside of nbn’s control (like their equipment quality, software, chosen broadband plan, signal reception, or how their provider designs its network). Speeds may also be impacted by the number of concurrent users on the nbn™ Fixed Wireless network, including during busy periods. Sky Muster™ satellite end customers may also experience latency.