Wildlife, scenic splendour and a rich mix of artisanal goods are the big calling cards of this city on Tasmania’s northwest coast.
Burnie is a port city transformed. This former industrial heartland has turned itself into a creative hub of artisans producing everything from fine cheeses and whisky to paintings and sculptures. Overlooking the sea and flanked by native bush and waterfalls, the city’s impressive scenery provides plenty of outdoor escapes. Hike through a river valley, look for platypus and penguins and try some locally produced Tasmanian whisky.
Relax on any of Burnie’s three main beaches: Cooee, South Beach and West Beach. At the western end of West Beach, there is a treat in store for wildlife enthusiasts, the Little Penguin Observation Centre. Come here at dusk, from September to March, to see the flightless birds come ashore.
Burnie is a magnet for lovers of the outdoors. Less than 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) from the city centre is the Fern Glade Reserve. Stroll through the river valley along walking tracks lined by tree ferns and orchids. Try and spot platypus, and picnic and barbecue in the designated areas. Drive about 19 kilometres (11.8 miles) south of Burnie for the Guide Falls, an easily accessible waterfall. Wind down in one of the city’s own green spaces, such as the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden.
Burnie’s other big draw is its creativity. Visit the Burnie Regional Art Gallery for exhibitions of arts and crafts by Tasmanian and other Australian artists. Stop by the Makers' Workshop and meet some of the artisans who work on site, including cheese makers and painters. Have a go at making paper, a tradition that has been alive in the city for decades. Tour Hellyers Rd Distillery, which lays claim to being Australia's largest single malt whisky producer.
Other city attractions include the Burnie Regional Museum. Among the exhibits is a replica of an early 20th-century street where stores are filled with period furniture and memorabilia.
To get to Burnie, fly into Devonport from the Australian mainland or sail on the Spirit of Tasmania. Then rent a car for the 30-minute drive to the city and enjoy days of outdoor adventures and cultural pursuits.