Road trips in Tasmania are about family fun, with wildlife and wild times guaranteed for your wildlings.
Nothing charms quite like critter encounters. Take a break from driving at the east-coast town of Triabunna, hop aboard the ferry to Maria Island and start counting the wombats (and wallabies and Cape Barren geese and more). Crazy about penguins? Watch little penguins from purpose-built viewing platforms at Stanley, Burnie, Lillico Beach and Bruny Island, and don’t forget the big penguin statue in the town of Penguin. The shy Tasmanian devil can be seen in a host of wildlife sanctuaries, including Bonorong Wilderness Sanctuary, Tasmanian Devil Unzoo and Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary.
An island gift-wrapped by ocean is the ideal place for a family kayaking experience. Paddle across Coles Bay to the foot of the Hazards with Freycinet Adventures, or drift with platypus on the River Derwent with Tassie Bound Adventure Tours. For more fun afloat, drift and swerve along the Meander River on a river sledding trip with Meander Wilderness Experiences.
There’s fast and furious fun on mountain bikes through forest around Derby, past swimming holes at St Helens and down to a dazzling white beach at the Bay of Fires. It’s all downhill at Maydena Bike Park in the Derwent Valley, including a top-to-bottom family-friendly mountain bike ride. Aiming even higher, whoosh through the trees on a zipline at Hollybank Wilderness Adventures, or simply scoot about Hollybank’s forest floor on a Segway.
Finding family-friendly walks in Tasmania is child’s play with help from the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service’s 60 Great Short Walks. Kids will love rock-hopping between swimming holes in Apsley Gorge, letting their imaginations run wild on the Goblin Forest Walk, and marvelling at sea stacks and Australia’s tallest sea cliffs from Cape Hauy.
Let curiosity get the better of you as you drive through Doo Town, where almost every home squeezes “Doo” into its name. Just Doo It! The poo jokes will linger for days after a visit to Richmond’s Pooseum, and getting lost has never been so much fun as among the eight mazes at Tasmazia and the Village of Lower Crackpot. On the west coast, climb aboard the historic West Coast Wilderness Railway, steaming along a 35km rainforest track between Queenstown and Strahan.
Highs and lows
In the state’s south, head high into the treetops along the elevated Tahune Airwalk at Tahune Adventures, and burrow deep underground at Hastings Caves - hours can pass in the Hastings Caves thermal swimming pool, with the water temperature at a permanent 28 degrees. In the north, plunge underground in the caves beneath Mole Creek Karst National Park. There’s more upstairs-downstairs action in the north on the drive along serpentine Jacobs Ladder to the plateau of Ben Lomond, or ride The Nut chairlift to the top of the mighty Nut in Stanley.
When night falls, the fun is just beginning in Tasmania. Take a ghost tour through the Port Arthur Historic Site, said to be Australia’s most haunted place. Find Tasmania’s other devils in the dark on a night wildlife tour at Devils@Cradle and East Coast Natureworld. And wander into Russell Falls in Mount Field National Park after dark to discover a grotto lit by glow worms.
Skim along the base of Australia’s highest sea cliffs with Tasman Island Cruises and Bruny Island Cruises – the search for seals, dolphins and whales will keep little minds alert. Slow things down on a day cruise along the Gordon River with World Heritage Cruises or Gordon River Cruises, drifting over perfect rainforest reflections and paying a visit to Sarah Island, one of the most notorious of Tasmania’s convict stations.
Tasmania does adventure like no other Australian state, and many experiences have unique qualities and challenges that teenagers love. Take a rafting rodeo through the King River Gorge with King River Rafting (minimum age 12). Cradle Mountain Canyons navigates a puzzle of leaps, swims and abseils through narrow alpine canyons; its Lost World trip has a minimum age of eight, while kids over 15 can tackle the challenging Dove Canyon or Phoenix Gorge. And imagine the bragging rights at school after returning from the world’s largest commercial abseil – Aardvark Adventures operates a 140m abseil off the top of the Gordon Dam, and welcomes teens aged 16 and over.