We just spent eight days in Tasmania with the kids and absolutely fell in love with the place so this is going to be a long post!
We caught the Spirit of Tasmania over to Devonport so that we could have a car with us because we planned a big road trip. We left Melbourne at 9:30 PM and arrived in Devonport at 7 AM the next morning. On board there was a play area for the kids, a restaurant, a small but comfortable cabin, a shop and plenty of places to explore. We got on board, ate tea and went to bed, the kids were asleep by the time the ride got a bit rough which is a good bonus of the overnight sailing option. The Spirit of Tasmania was all completely accessible with a lift between floors.
From Devonport we drove west along the coast through a town called Penguin. The main reason we visited Penguin was because they have a big penguin you can't do in Australian roadtrip without visiting a big thing. It's a rule. There's a nice little playground there too so it's a good spot to stretch the legs.
Further west from Penguin is Wynyard which is famous for its Tulips and other flower farms. There is also a nice light house near the tulips. The tulip festival is in October and they are generally blooming late September into late October. Our favourite was an iris farm on the drive out to the lighthouse.
Our first night was spent in Stanley on the north-west tip of Tasmania. Stanley is famous for the Nut which is a mountain that seems to pop out of the ocean. Stanley is a very pretty town that sits at the bottom of the Nut with lots of gorgeous old buildings. There is a chair lift taking you to the top of the Nut or you can walk up. Stanley is also home to a colony of little penguins that come onto the beach each night. The nests are signposted underneath the old cemetery on the beach. It is not lit up so the advice is to take your own torch with red cellophane over the light so as to not upset the penguins. The local tourist information office gives out cellophane if you need some.
A great view of the Nut is from Highgate House, a short drive out of town. Lonely Planet agrees!
From Stanley we drove south to Arthur River where you can visit the edge of the world- a piece of land on a dramatic beach that looks out onto an ocean that stretches all the way to Argentina. Driving south from here turns into a gravel road towards Corrina which was the way we drove but there is a sealed road further east heading the same direction.
Once you get to Corrina, an old goldmining town in the forest, you need to catch the ferry across the Pieman River. Standard cars cost $25 for a one way trip. The ferry runs on the half hour or on demand in busier times. Not far down the road is the town of Zeehan which was at one time was Tasmania's third largest town and still has some beautiful buildings from it's boom period. There's a nice little local history museum here as well.
We spent our next night in Strahan at the Strahan Village. From here you can walk to Hogarth Falls which is a good one to do with kids because the path is easy, flat and you can even take a pram most of the way. The falls also have a staircase down to the base of the falls. To get to Hogarth Falls walk along the dock to the People's Park.
Our main reason for visiting Strahan was to do a river cruise to see the Gordon River, Sarah Island and the rainforest. The cruise we chose was with World Heritage Cruises who depart each day at 9 AM for a four hour cruise.
On board each person has a designated seat but you're also welcome to move around the boat at all times with plenty of space on the open decks and visitors are always welcome on the bridge. Lunch is included and there's also a bar/cafe on board. The cruise takes you past a local fish farm of ocean trout then out to Sarah Island, an old convict island where you can choose to explore the island on your own or have a guided tour. The island is board walked and we were able to complete the tour with the pram. The cruise also takes you down heavily forested Gordon River to a boardwalk rainforest walk this was also able to be completed with the pram.
Another highlight of Strahan is nearby Hently Dunes, where there are enormous sand dunes that are great to explore and play on. You can hire toboggans or book in for a ride on four-wheel motorbikes or just explore around on your own.
Next stop was a short drive east to Queenstown, an old tin mining town. We visited Queenstown to catch the western wilderness railway with our little train fan. The Western Wilderness Railway offers lots of different trips but we chose one left at 9 AM and returned at 1 PM that takes you through the forest and up the hill to Dubbl Barril. The cabins are very comfortable and there are several stops along the way where you can get out, see the train, buy snacks, visit the toilet and check out the forest. Local history is told by the conductors along the way and there's a good cafe at Queenstown station to have lunch on your return.
Definitely book ahead as the railway does often book out.
From Queenstown we drove north to Cradle Mountain where we stayed at nearby Moina at the Lemon Thyme Lodge. These eco-cabins are in the forest with lots of walks around the grounds (these walks are not accessible with prams but are partially boardwalked). The local Wallabies and possums are fed each night from the restaurant decking.
There's a few places in Tasmania that you can visit the Tassie devils but we chose Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary because they have a giant Tassie devil at the front and they are a sanctuary looking after rescued wildlife and trying to release them back into the wild. Admission covers a tour of the park where you get to pat a Tassie devil and a wombat and see the Tassie devils being fed. Tours run each day at 1 PM.
Our next night was spent in a small town called Jackeys Marsh between Cradle Mountain and Launceston. We stayed in and Airbnb called The Roundhouse which is an amazing three level building that feels like it's from a fairytale. It has a domed roof with the hammock in the loft and an open plan lounge and kitchen and a large deck with amazing views of the hills. There are two bedrooms both with double beds and a lovely bathroom with a big mosaic over the bath. Down the spiral wooden spoon staircase is room with a large wood heater and two couches.
The next stop was north in Launceston, visiting Liffey Falls on the way. We stayed two nights in Launceston as a base to see several local attractions. Cataract Gorge is of course the must-see in Launceston with the winding river walk, the peacocks in the garden and the famous chairlift.
In Launceston we stayed at the Penney Royal Hotel which is an old world themed accommodation attached to Penny Royal Park where you can zip line, cliff walk or join in other activities. Penny Royal is in a great spot because you're only a short walk from Cataract Gorge and the city centre.
From Launceston we took a day trip to the Mount Paris dam which is on the road towards St Helens in the east. Mount Paris Dam was built in the 30s by the tin mining company in the area and it was blown open in the 80s as it was disused and now the forest has re-claimed it. These days you can walk through the dam walls and the river flows through it again. The concrete walls remain standing between the tree ferns, it's a pretty unique sight but a little tricky to get to. Its best to park on the main road when you see the small wooden Mount Paris dam sign and walk the rest of the way unless you have a four-wheel-drive. It's only a short walk.
Another big thing for your road trip is the big thumbs up on the drive back from Mount Paris Dam.
Grindelwald is a small town north of Launceston that was built to look like a Swiss village. We made a short visit for an ice cream and a photo with Amelie's travelling gnome. There's not a great deal to see here but it is a sweet town if it's on your way and there's also a big jumping pillow, mini golf, paddle boats and pedal cars.
The Tamar Wetlands walk is a nice stop if the kids love birds. It's a fully boardwalked path through the wetlands to Tamar Island, about 10minutes north of Launceston. Entry by donation.
Launceston was our last stop so from here we returned to Devonport to catch the Spirit of Tasmania home.
Tasmania has gone wild for the painted rocks craze, we found at least two dozen in our travels around so keep your eye out!
My top tips for travelling in Tasmania with kids
The roads are very windy so if your kids are prone to motion sickness plan plenty of stops and have some bags ready just in case.
If you're driving in the west make sure you fill up the car when you can at bigger towns, there's not as many petrol stations as we are used to.
If the kids are 8+ book them into a zip line at Penny Royal adventures in Launceston it's great fun and only $25.
There are loads of waterfalls around but my top two recommendations to tackle with the kids would be Hogarth falls in Strahan as it such an easy one for the kids to walk to and Liffey falls near Jackeys March and Deloraine because most of the 40 minute walk to the base of the falls can be done with a pram or wheelchair, only the last five minutes is stairs, and the falls are huge.
The Truwanna Wildlife Sanctuary was definitely a highlight for the kids so it's well worth a visit. Try to be there at 1 PM for the tour.
If you are planning on visiting North West Tasmania it's definitely best to catch the Spirit of Tasmania and bring your own car, these areas are not accessible by public transport so you really need your own wheels.
Many of the spots we visited we came across through Instagram and the lonely planet Tasmanian road trip book. Both were very handy for planning the trip, you'll find there is a lot less information on The West Coast attractions than of Hobart and surrounds so you do need to put in a little more ground work on Western Tasmanian holiday.
Be ready for any sort of weather and definitely have a good raincoat for everyone, the West Coast gets a lot of rain!
We had a wonderful time, the only thing we planned that didn't work out was a walk at Cradle Mountain but it was far too foggy to see anything so we skipped it. There is so much to see and I really hope we get over there again soon!
Feel free to email me any questions I haven't covered here, I'm happy to talk about Tassie all day! 😄