As any parent will tell you, getting from A to B is the hardest part of travelling with children. Fortunately, in Tasmania, A is never very far from B. This will leave your family feeling unhurried, stress-free and ready to enjoy the state's beaches, rivers, forests and wildlife parks.
Best Regions for Kids
- Hobart & Around
A musical education: live Friday-night tunes at Salamanca Arts Centre followed by Saturday's Salamanca Market buskers. Other highlights include harbourside fish and chips, the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery and kunanyi/Mt Wellington for mountain biking and winter snowball throwing.
- The Southeast
Check out Bruny Island’s wild coastline by boat. Don't miss the Tahune AirWalk, Hastings Caves & Thermal Springs and the Ida Bay Railway.
- The East Coast
Brilliant beaches, Coles Bay kayaking, hungry Tasmanian devils at Natureworld and Bicheno’s cute penguins.
- Launceston & Around
Curious critters: City Park’s Japanese macaques and the odd little residents at Beauty Point's Seahorse World and Platypus House. Defy gravity with the Cataract Gorge chairlift or some Cable Hang Gliding.
Tasmania for Kids
Tasmania is a naturally active destination, with plenty of challenges, fun times and exercise opportunities for children (sometimes all at once). Cruise past coastal scenery to spy on seals and dolphins, or paddle a kayak around Hobart’s docks. Explore the forest canopy, or ride a mountain bike down Mt Wellington.
On the gentler side are riverbank bike paths and feeding times at Tassie’s excellent wildlife parks. And when the kids have hiked, biked and kayaked all day, treat them to superfresh local fruit from a roadside stall, or some alfresco fish and chips.
Many motels and better-equipped caravan parks can supply cots. Caravan parks also often have playgrounds, games rooms and hectares of grass on which to burn off some cooped-up-in-the-car kilojoules.
Top-end, and some midrange, hotels are well versed in the needs of guests with children. Some may also have in-house children’s movies and child-minding services. B&Bs, on the other hand, often market themselves as blissfully child-free.
Eating Out with Children
Dining with kids in Tasmania rarely causes any hassles. If you sidestep the flashier restaurants, children are generally welcomed. Cafes are kid friendly and you’ll see families getting in early for dinner in pub dining rooms. Most places can supply high chairs.
Dedicated kids menus are common, but selections are usually uninspiring (ham-and-pineapple pizza, fish fingers, chicken nuggets etc). If a restaurant doesn't have a kids menu, find something on the regular menu and ask the kitchen to adapt it. It’s usually fine to bring toddler food in with you.
If the sun is shining, there are plenty of picnic spots around the state, many with free barbecues. During summer, Tassie is also a great place to buy fresh fruit at roadside stalls.
Breastfeeding & Nappy Changing
Most Tasmanians are relaxed about public breastfeeding and nappy changing: a parent using the open boot of a car as a nappy-changing area is a common sight! Hobart and most major towns also have public rooms where parents can go to feed their baby or change a nappy; ask at the local visitor centre or city councils. Items such as infant formula and disposable nappies are widely available.
In Hobart contact the Mobile Nanny Service, or check out the statewide listings on www.babysittersrus.com.au.
Admission Fees & Discounts
Child concessions (and family rates) generally apply to tours, museum admission and bus transport, with discounts as high as 50% of the adult rate. Nearly all tourist attractions offer kids' prices, with kids aged under four or five often admitted free. However, the definition of ‘child’ can vary from under 12 to under 18 years. Accommodation concessions often apply to children under 12 years sharing the same room as adults. On the major airlines, infants up to three years of age travel free (provided they don’t occupy a seat).
Beaches & Swimming
- Seven Mile Beach The best safe-swimming beach near Hobart.
- Sisters Beach
- Douglas-Apsley National Park Take a dip in a deep, dark river waterhole ('Was that an eel?').
- Fortescue Bay If you've made the effort to drive in here, you might as well camp for the night. And have a swim.
- Cataract Gorge Cool off in the free outdoor swimming pool at First Basin.
We’re Hungry, Mum
- Flippers Fish and chips on Hobart’s Constitution Dock. Launceston's equivalent is Fish ’n’ Chips by the river.
- Sorell Fruit Farm Bag your own fruit (cherries, strawberries, apricots, apples etc) on the doorstep of the Tasman Peninsula.
- Doo-Lishus Food Caravan Scallop pies for lunch! Then a short walk to Eaglehawk Neck's blowhole.
- Hillwood Farmgate Berry picking/scoffing near George Town.
- House of Anvers For a quick-fire choc fix near Devonport.
- Tarkine Forest Adventures Slip down a 110m-long slide into a deep-forest sinkhole.
- Tahune AirWalk Make like a possum in the treetops along walkways 20m above the ground; near Geeveston.
- Tasmazia Totally ridiculous maze and theme park near Lake Barrington.
- Hollybank Treetops Adventure Swing through the trees with the greatest of ease at this adventure park near Lilydale.
- Killiecrankie Enterprises Fossick for ‘diamonds’ (well, semiprecious topaz) on Flinders Island.
A History Lesson
- Historic Ghost Tour The Port Arthur Historic Site by day is creepy enough, but come back at dusk for extra atmos-fear.
- Ida Bay Railway Historic WWII-era rattler, running 14km through bushland to the beach near Southport.
- Callington Mill Oatlands’ old-time mill is cranking out flour again.
- Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre Hands-on gold-mining displays and plenty of heritage.
- Mawson's Huts Replica Museum Antarctic heritage in Hobart.
Meeting the Locals
- Maria Island National Park Close-up encounters with wallabies, echidnas, honking Cape Barren geese and maybe even a Tasmanian devil.
- Bonorong Wildlife Centre A whole bunch of beasts, not far from Hobart. The emphasis is on conservation and education.
- Bicheno Penguin Tours Watch the waddling locals come home to roost.
- Seahorse World On the waterfront at Beauty Point.
- Natureworld Daily Tasmanian-devil feeding sessions at this wildlife centre near Bicheno. Show the progeny a tiger snake without the accompanying fear and peril.
Messing About in Boats
- Bruny Island Cruises Boat tours of the island's southern coastline, cliffs and caves (...and the ferry ride to the island itself is fun!).
- Lady Nelson Tall-ship sailing on Hobart's Derwent River.
- Freycinet Adventures Easygoing sea-kayak paddles around sheltered Coles Bay. Sunset tours a bonus.
- Huon Jet Jet-boat rides on the otherwise-tranquil Huon River in the southeast.
- Arthur River Canoe & Boat Hire Paddle around on the Arthur River in a Canadian canoe.
Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children contains buckets of useful information for travel with little 'uns. To aid your planning once you get to Tassie, pick up the free LetsGoKids magazine (www.letsgokids.com.au) at visitor centres for activity ideas, kid-friendly-accommodation listings and event discount vouchers.
When to Go
When it comes to family holidays, Tasmania is a winner during summer. Having said that, summer is peak season and school-holiday time: expect pricey accommodation and a lot of booking ahead for transport and beds (especially interstate flights, rental cars, the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, camping grounds and motels).
If your own kids don't need to be at school, a better bet may be the shoulder months of March and April (sidestepping Easter) and November, when the weather's still good and there's less pressure on the tourism sector. Winter is even better (if you don't mind the cold and aren't into swimming and camping) – you'll have the whole place to yourselves!
What to Pack
Tasmania’s weather is truly fickle, even in summer, so a diverse wardrobe with lots of layers is recommended. Definitely pack beach gear for your summer holiday, but also throw in a few thermal long-sleeve tops, beanies and jackets. A compact beach tent will also be handy, given Tasmania’s capricious winds. Don’t forget hats and sunglasses – essential for Tasmania’s sharp southern rays.