Before setting foot in Tasmania, I had never imagined this isolated island at the southern end of Australia could be such a great family destination. It took a friend visiting from Canada to convince me to take my family on a road trip around the island for a long weekend.
Only a few hours off the plane, and I was hooked. Whether you are nature-lover wanting to explore the unspoiled scenery or a foodie in search of the perfect wine and oyster platter to dig your teeth into, Tasmania has something to please everyone in the family.
And because air travel within Australia is so cheap, the island state is accessible from major airports, and you can easily arrange to arrive and leave from different terminals. But a loop of the island is perhaps the way to go as it will allow you to make the most of both the mountains and the sea, which Tassie combines so spectacularly.
Day 1 and 2 – Launceston to Bicheno
We started our adventure in Launceston, the second largest city in Tasmania after Hobart. To stretch our legs after the plane, we visited the Cataract Gorge, which is the main attraction in the area. The river gorge itself is impressive, particularly since Australia isn’t blessed with the types of rivers we find in Canada. There are several short walks around the canyon, but the most spectacular, and no doubt the most popular amongst children, is the one that takes you over the gorge via a suspension bridge.
From there, we headed to Bicheno for a couple of nights. Bicheno is a picturesque small town of only around 850 people, but it attracts a surprising number of tourists due to its idyllic location near national parks and its resident colony of penguins. Penguin tours are held in the evenings and are a must for any family visiting the area during the colder months. But for us, travelling with a young baby keen on early nights, we decided to skip this activity and opt for a morning hike in the Freycinet National Park to see the famous Wineglass Bay. The walk itself isn’t too long – around 1.5 hours return – but the lookout over the bay is stunning and worth the steep climb.
Day 3, 4 and 5 – Hobart to Launceston via Devonport
Our next stop was the city of Hobart, the second oldest capital of Australia. If you happen to be there on a Saturday, the Salamanca Market is a must see where you will find exceptional Tasmanian produce for a lovely picnic at one of the nearby parks.
A visit to Hobart wouldn’t be complete without a trip up Mount Wellington. But be prepared and dress children in warm clothes to brave the wind and the cold at the summit. The mountain stands at 1,271 metres above sea level and snow even during summer is a fairly regular occurrence. On a fine day, you will be rewarded with magnificent views over Hobart and the surrounding region.
Depending on how long you have and how much your children like being in a car, there are several options to make your way north to Launceston. You can take a more direct route through the centre of Tasmania, or as we did, go closer to nature by following the A5 along lakes and tiny villages. For the more adventurous and for those who want to experience a wilderness stay, Cradle Mountain is one of the top destinations in Australia. If you do end up going all the way up to Devonport, be sure to dip your toes in the Bass Strait at one of the city beaches before you head back to the airport. If you want an extra experience for the kids, you can always stay in Devonport and catch the ferry back to the mainland.
Road trips with children are regularly challenging, but the beauty of travelling in Tasmania is that you’ll always find a great stop along the way. From cheese factories to wineries and stunning vistas that take your breath away, Tasmania has made a name for itself as being a charming destination with warm hospitality.