Visiting Tasmania was such a surprising delight. I can’t say that we really knew what to expect from visiting Tasmania but I can certainly tell you that we left with the desire to return again. So what did Tasmania have to offer for the kids and opportunities to learn new things? As soon as you drive off of the Spirit of Tasmania you can tell that Tassie is a little bit different. For a city slicker like me the best analogy I can give you is that Tassie is like it was when I was a young girl. It is like stepping back in time 30 years. A place that is so familiar and feels safe to explore. The old corner shop still exists in Tassie and every place in Tassie has ‘the best fish and chips in Tassie’ according to various locals. My husbands reasoning for this is that there aren’t many chain fast food restaurants other than a few dotted around Hobart, Launceston and Devonport so the good old fish and chips is popular and boasted about. Tassie farming is in abundance and produce varies from salmon, dairies, berry farms, apple and other stone fruit orchards, wineries and honey. If you have children who have grown up in the suburbs of a major city then exposure to these types of places is a must! We absolutely loved Huon Valley Caravan Park Tasmania. This place is so amazing because the owners of the property are self sufficient. They live off of their land and as visitors your family can witness this. Chooks roam the property, you can watch the farmer milk the cows at 4pm and the kids can hold a chick. They have apple trees and their water is recycled to water the apples. All of these experiences lend themselves to fabulous conversations with the kids. So when in Tasmania be sure to visit the berry farms and pick your own berries if the season is right. Let you children learn in a hands on way where their food comes from.
Tasmania is rich with wildlife. As we trip around Australia my eldest is keeping a list of all the wildlife he sees along the way. We were lucky enough to see echidnas on the side of the road, wombats, wallabies and possums. We learnt about pademelons (a small wallaby like animal that is extinct on the mainland) and we even got to see pademelons at various places across Tassie. We most definitely sought out the Tasmanian Devil which you can see at a number of different places across Tasmania but we were lucky enough to see them at Huon Valley Caravan Park as they have two that they care for and you can watch feeding at 4pm daily (free viewing of feeding for guests). Penguins are also in abundance at various times of the year across Tasmania. We got to see the Fairy Penguins on Bruny Island at The Neck Lookout (there is a sign for the rookery). A ranger came to the site about 8:30pm bringing resources with her. She spoke to us about the Fairy Penguins in the area and my children were infatuated with her taxidermy penguin. This one whilst free is not for the faint hearted as in Summer the penguins don’t come to shore until dark due to predation and for us it wasn’t until 10pm that we saw our first penguin. Well worth checking out if your kids can cope with the late night.
The Bruny Island Lighthouse is worth a visit too. At $35 for a family the price is quite affordable. Tours run regularly and the informative guide will take you all the way to the top for an epic view over Bruny. This lighthouse is rich in history being built by convicts and first lit in 1838. The kids were amazed by the spiral stair case and insisted on counting them on the way down. Just be mindful that this tour is not suitable for children under 5 years of age.
There are waterfalls scattered throughout Tasmania. Mount Field National Park Visitor Centre is a must see! From that one spot there are loads of waterfall walks you can complete. We visited Russell Falls and Horseshoe Falls which were both easy walks that our four and seven year old managed easily. When you visit the visitor centre take note of any walking tours or information sessions run by the rangers. Other waterfalls to visit include Liffey Falls, Dip Falls and Nelson Falls. Liffey Falls is another waterfall that is relatively easy to access with children. There are various cascading levels to this waterfall giving you many opportunities to catch a glimpse and enjoy its beauty. When you do make it to the bottom you can sit on some rocks and explore, getting quite close to the waterfall.
I absolutely wanted to visit Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs during our visit and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The caves were amazing and when you pay for entry to a cave tour you also get entry to enjoy the thermal springs. What I love about caves is that it gives children the opportunity to wonder and imagine. They get to witness a whole other world underground that they either didn’t know existed or have never seen and it is magical. Some people may say that the thermal springs are disappointing because they just look like a pool, however it is up to us as parents to talk about this naturally occurring phenomenon and what makes the pool unique from others. There are a couple of fireplaces scattered around so my advice is that you should pack some warm clothes and jackets for a cave tour, swimmers to experience the thermal springs, your towels of course and a picnic to enjoy in front of the warm fireplaces. I know my youngest will not remember going to that cave specifically but he certainly has the memory of what the inside of a cave is like forever.
When we visited Port Arthur Historic Site we anticipated a one day visit and then moving on. We were advised from locals that we should allow two days to see the site so we opted for a two day pass. We absolutely made the right decision to visit over two days. There is far more to see at this site that you would expect and my children enjoyed Port Arthur Historic Site far more than I ever anticipated. We treat most tours and experiences with our kids as adventures and this place was certainly that. At the end of the first day the kids did not want to leave as they hadn’t seen all of the buildings. Port Arthur is more than just seeing a prison, a visit allows you to explore what was once upon a time an entire community. Some are simply remains but others are fully in tact and restored impeccably.
I wasn’t sure if the children were going to enjoy their experiences of Tasmania but they absolutely loved it. It is rich in history and a perfect place to explore and create your own adventures. In Tasmania my children learnt about farming, gained a better understanding of where their food comes from and appreciating how our food arrives at the supermarket. They improved their endurance in how far they can walk and hike. Their imagination and creativity levels developed. You may wonder how I know; after our experiences they wanted to build lighthouses, caves and prisons with their Lego, reinforcing those experiences. These were things that they would have never considered incorporating into their play. They gained an understanding of what it may have been like to live 200 years ago and how fortunate we are in our advances in medicine and technology.
Was Tasmania worth the visit? Heck yes. We will go back again, with our van and do it all again.