Hello from Strahan! It's pouring rain (we are expecting 20-40mm today here) so it's the perfect day to begin my blog on our Tasmania Trip (we are on Day 12 of our 17 day self-drive trip). If you have ever thought of taking some time off work to take the family on a trip I can't recommend Tasmania enough.
Travelling around Tasmania is perfect for families for the following reasons:
1) The driving times between towns are short (our biggest drive was 4 hours from Hobart to Strahan which we broke down by stopping at some attractions along the way).
2) There are a plethora of caravan parks throughout Tasmania offering affordable accomodation for families.
3) Most would assume that Tasmania is tailored towards travelling grey nomads, however once you are here you will see how many child-friendly activities are on offer.
Day 1: We drove through the night from Bathurst NSW to Melbourne VIC (approximately 9 hours in the car driving - phew!). It was a mammoth effort but well worth it as our 3 girls (Quinn 6, Molly 4 and Ivy 15 months) slept most of the way. We stopped for a quick nap at a McDonalds service centre 2 hours from Melbourne to re-energise. On arrival in Melbourne we called our motel The Swanson Hotel Melbourne Grand to see if we could check in early. They were amazing and allowed us to check in at 7:30am! We are forever thankyou to them for allowing us to do this, a hot shower gave us the energy to soldier on through the day without sleep. We braved the drizzly rain and visited the Melbourne Musuem after riding the free city tram around Melbourne. The museum had so many activities to entertain the kids (interactive elements throughout the museum, live creepy crawlies and related activities, watercolour craft, toddler play area + much more). We then met some gorgeous friends for a Korean fusion meal at Kong BBQ in Richmond and gelato at the Crown Casino after we checked out their new apartment.
**Highlight for Day 1 was the Korean fusion meal including BBQ corn (with miso butter, chilli salt and Parmesan), Soft Shell Crab Buns (with salted duck egg relish and coriander), Wood-roasted Pork Belly (with soba noodles, nashi and apple soy) and Beef Strip-Loin (with sweet soy baste, yainiku sauce and crispy potato) - all absolutely amazing!
**Kids highlight was "the rainbow gelato and seeing their friend Chloe".
Day 2: After a full night sleep we jumped out of bed and enjoyed our buffet breakfast included in the motel price ($169 for accomodation, early check in, breakfast and late checkout is superb value for our family!). We grabbed a city map and began to explore Melbourne's famous laneways. Graffiti Lane and Hardware Lane were very cool and had some awesome food/coffee - we all loved the macarons from La Belle Miette on Hardware Lane as well as the coffee from Brother Baba Budan on Little Bourke Street. After checking out of our motel we drove over to Brighton Beach where we spent the rest of the day playing in the sand, collecting shells on the beach and checking out the beautiful beach huts. We grabbed some fish and chips from Fish Tank in Brighton and ate the salty deliciousness while watching kite surfers at St Kilda beach before boarding the Spirit of Tasmania at 19:30pm. Note: Before boarding the ferry to Tasmania you have to either eat on the spot or discard all fresh fruit + vege, plants, honey, fish and fish products so don't buy up in Melbourne before you leave the port). The ferry was fun for the kids, we checked into our cabin then found the designated kids area. Our girls played for a couple of hours on the playground then passed out in their beds after a quick shower for the night. There was also a cinema onboard the ferry with new releases for the older children/adults as well as dining options, a number of bars and a tourist information hub.
**Highlights - Wandering through Hardware Lane while eating macarons and drinking great coffee + watching the kids play on Brighton Beach.
** Kids Hightlight - "macarons and the beach huts".
Day 3: Visited Bakers Beach which was beautiful. It wasn't until we got back to the car did hubby mention we have the pleasure of seeing a snake (he knows me well and told us after we finished our walk). Next stop Seahorse World in Beauty Point. Oh Seahorse World you will forever be etched into our memories. Seriously my girls still speak about Seahorse World (their favourite part of Tassie by far). We enjoyed a morning tour where the girls found out lots of interesting facts from our tour guide. They also got to feed the sea horses, count the baby sea horses as well as hold a seahorse and a star fish. From Beauty Point we drove to Launceston to visit the famous Cataract Gorge. We rode the chairlift, walked over the suspension bridge then made waves in the pool soaking in the beauty of the gorge. Cataract Gorge is certainly not to be missed!
**Highlights - Swimming in the pool at Cataract Gorge and "not" seeing the snake.
** Kids Hightlight - "sea horse world!".
Day 4: First stop meeting the Macaque Monkeys in City Park and riding the Thomas the Tank Engine Train - both were lots of fun. We then enjoyed the aquatic centre at Launceston (our girls love to swim so we stop at almost every aquatic centre we can find whenever we are travelling). The best part about an aquatic centre is the kids wear themselves out, you can then all have a shower in the family change room and then jump back into the car with a guarantee that the kids will sleep for at least 2 hours). Winning! While the girls slept we dropped by James Boag and grabbed a six pack of their beers (you can enjoy beers and a cheese platter in the establishment - however with three sleeping girls we decide to grab a six pack and head back to our cabin).
**Highlights - Tasting James Boag beers with hubby.
** Kids Hightlight - "the monkeys and pool!".
Day 5: On route to the East Coast of Tassie we stopped by House of Arras champagne cellar door followed by a magnificent lavender farm Bridestowe Lavender Estate - the chocolate lavender ice-cream was divine! Binnalong Bay on the East Coast was next and we were blown away by the Bay of Fires beauty. On our way to Bicheno we drove by an oyster farm - oh my by far the BEST oysters we have ever eaten. At dusk we arrived in Bicheno and went straight to the Blowhole to search for ‘Little Penguins’.
Day 6: We drove from Bicheno down the coast to explore the Coles Bay Foreshore. We enjoyed the 40-min uphill walk to a lookout to see Wineglass Bay (well worth the effort). Delicious mussels/oysters/scallops were enjoyed at the Freycinet Marine Farm restaurant followed by a quiet afternoon by the beach back in Bicheno collecting shells.
Day 7: Drove to Hobart today and had some fun at the Hobart Aquatic Centre. Pizza on the esplanade was yum before heading to watch the 20/20 big bash game at Blundstone Arena.
Day 8: A Gourmet Food Safari with Mary from Gourmania Food Tours was a wonderful start to our Hobart plans - I thoroughly enjoyed my morning alone eating my way around Hobart (the most amazing pastries from Pigeon Whole Bakers). Mark enjoyed his Lark Distillery Whisky Tour afterwards while I took the girls for milkshakes and shopping at a gorgeous little Faerie Shop for moon rings, lipgloss and glitter pens.
Day 9: Bruny Island was our destination for today, the girls loved the short ferry ride from Kettering to Bruny Island. Chocolate fudge, amazingly fresh + tasty seafood, honey, cheese and a walk up to the lookout on Bruny were enjoyed by all.
Day 10: Tahune Airwalk with the swinging bridges in the Huon Valley were highlights for today. Geeveston (our stop between Hobart and Huon Valley) had an awesome interactive bike track for the kids and a walk along the river to encourage visitors to search for Platypus (we searched for them for up to an hour however we have since found out that they come out at sunset to play). Cascade Brewery back in Hobart was our last stop and a must see - it is majestic and an iconic building in Hobart. Hubby enjoyed a tasting paddle (I loved the Ginger Beer which was a trial batch so Im hoping that they decide to brew and bottle it soon).
Day 11: On route to Strahan from Hobart we stopped at the Salmon Ponds to feed farmed salmon/trout (which the girls absolutely loved). Tarraleah Falls bushwalk was lovely before we drove the 99 bends to Queenstown (don't give the kids a large meal before driving this road - there was vomit flying around our backseat most of the way to Queenstown). On arrival in Strahan we were blown away by its beauty. We enjoyed Ocean Beach at sunset which was one of my most favourite memories from our entire trip - we felt like the only people on the west coast of Tassie with the entire beach almost to ourselves.
Day 12: A rainy day in Strahan allowed for some rest and board games before watching “The ship that Never Was” production on the esplanade. We all thoroughly enjoyed the production which tells the dramatic and hilarious true story of the Great Escape from Sarah Island (my eldest who is 6 had the giggles for most of the production).
Day 13: Boarded the West Coast Wilderness Railway today which was interesting (gold panning was certainly a highlight). After lunch we drove to Cradle Mountain and joined a tour to watch night-time feeding of Tasmanian Devils & Quolls with our tour guide from Devils@Cradle. I won't lie I can never remember being as cold as I was during this tour. We visited Tassie in January so I honestly didn't think it could get that cold in Summer - I was proved wrong we had to leave halfway through the tour because we were just too cold. Pack your winter woolies if you plan on visiting Cradle Mountain at any time of the year!
Day 14: We were up early today and dressed in every piece of clothing we packed (forcast 3-5 degrees). We walked the 6km Dove Lake Circuit and as a reward we had a beautiful view of Cradle Mountain. From Cradle Mountain we continued our Tassie journey to Stanley. On route we stopped and climbed Table Cape Lighthouse with a lovely tour guide. We finished the day playing on the awesome children’s equipment and collecting tiny shells on the beach at Stanley.
Day 15: Visited 'Dip Falls' and 'The Big Tree' today just outside Stanley before stopping at Sisters Beach on our way to Burnie. Mark and the big girls learnt to make paper at the Burnie Makers Workshop while Ivy and I wandered around swooning over the gorgeous creations made by the clever people in the workshop. We met some lovely locals at the beach at dusk for a free “Little Penguins” tour & talk. We were thrilled to spot gorgeous baby penguins with our red torches waiting for their mum's to bring them food.
Day 16: First stop today was Helleyers Road Whisky Distillery for a breakfast nip (my hubby is a dedicated whisky drinker). He loved the whisky so decided to bottle his own bottle which was fun for us girls to watch. We jumped in the car and stopped for a photo op with the giant penguin at Penguin (and a play on the equipment of course). Tasmazia was our next stop which was so much fun - mazes galore for the kids and funny adult jokes posted around for our amusement (mostly jokes my dad would use but nonetheless humorous). A final play at Corey’s Funpark in Devonport was a hit prior to boarding the ferry back to the mainland.
Until next time Tassie
Much Love xxxxx