The best things to see and do with kids on a Hobart holiday
The capital of Tasmania is jam-packed with fun, adventure, nature and intriguing things to do for the whole family.
- November 2019
What do you get when you mix nature, culture and a whole lot of fun? Here are the very best places to take the little ones for a mind-blowing adventure in the city of Hobart.
Ride to the top of Mt Kunany
Kunanyi/Mount Wellington, sharply outlined against the bright blue sky, beckons from almost every vantage point in this waterside city – and offers the perfect opportunity to get amidst nature without going too far from town. Book tickets on the hop-on-hop-off kunanyi/Mt Wellington Explorer and be regaled by the informative and funny commentary from the driver. Get off at The Springs bus stop and grab a snack at the Lost Freight café, where the kids can lounge on a beanbag drinking milkshakes before lacing up their hiking boots and tackling one of the many tracks criss-crossing the sides of the mountain. Pinnacle Road leads to a glorious lookout – but rug up: the temperature is usually 10 degrees cooler than Hobart at the summit.
Explore Salamanca market
Every Saturday between 8.30am and 3pm the tantalising, sweet aroma of French crepes and Dutch poffertjes, mixed with the fragrant spices of samosas, burritos, noodles and kebabs, wafts through the air at the Salamanca Market on the picturesque waterfront near the docks. Musicians entertain the crowds checking out more than 300 stalls selling homemade jams, cakes and drinks, artworks, jewellery and wooden craft items – some made from Tasmania’s rare Huon pine. Kids will love running around the market where the colourful atmosphere, range of international dishes, variety of crafts and friendly, chatty stallholders will keep them entertained.
Discover family-friendly art at MONA
Kids and museums are only friends for a short time but when it’s as mind-blowing as MONA, there is plenty to mesmerise everyone. The experience starts when you board the funky camouflaged ferry at the Brooke Street Pier – the anklebiters will love hanging from the animal sculptures and riding the sheep statues on the outside deck.
Once there, children won’t be able to resist the famous poo machine, Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca Professional. This fascinating project imitates bodily functions in a perfect marriage of science and art – every day at 11am and 4pm the machine is fed portions of food and enzymes; digestion and then excretion occurs (at 2pm).
Other kid-friendly highlights over three levels of artworks include Richard Wilson’s 20:50 and Grotto by Randy Polumbo, while light shows and short films enchant children of all ages.
Get a history lesson at Port Arthur
Port Arthur, a 90-minute drive south-east from Hobart along the Arthur Highway, is certainly worth the journey to visit one of the most well-preserved and significant convict-era sites in Australia. Glide around the port on a harbour cruise (included in the entry fee) while the boat’s captain tells stories about the prisoners’ escape attempts, then wander around the 19th-century prison cells and crumbling exercise yards to picture the history in action.
Imagining the intense challenges of a convict’s experience, their hands raw from manual labour, in freezing conditions, far from their homeland in what was described as a “god-forsaken” island, will give kids a history lesson that no big-city classroom can replicate.
Discover Bruny Island
Bruny Island is famous for its white wallabies and rugged beauty. A 30-kilometre drive south from Hobart will take you to Kettering where a regular ferry service to the island operates. Climb the 279 stairs to The Neck lookout at the isthmus between North and South Bruny to take in the 360-degree views. Then refuel with coffee and pancakes at the Penguin and Pardalote Cafe or stop in at the Bruny Island Cheese Co. With kids and dogs lounging and playing beneath the trees, the area has the relaxed feel of colonial picnics in early Australian Impressionist paintings – only with more hipster clothing.
See Tassie Devils at Unzoo
The Tasmanian Devil Unzoo sanctuary has an emphasis on creating spaces for humans to observe the endangered animals in their natural habitats. There’s no better or more fun way to learn about nature and conservation than with a Devil Tracker Tour, during which guests travel by 4WD around the nearby bush areas, helping rangers examine the previous night’s devil activity via hidden infra-red cameras. The monitoring is an attempt to conserve the species, as up to 90 per cent of the population has been lost in the last 20 years – with estimates of wild devils remaining as low as 10,000.
Nurture in nature
Eaglehawk Neck, a tiny town that serves as a gateway to the Tasman Peninsula, is a sensational spot to see nature at its finest. Millions of years of ocean tides and wild southern winds have created Tasman Arch and the Blowhole, which spouts water up into the air in majestic sprays. There are multitudes of hiking trails dotted in and around the Tasman National Park, including very short ones that are easy for families to take on.
Another natural attraction not to be missed is Remarkable Cave, located 7.5 kilometres south of the Port Arthur Historic Site on Safety Cove Road. Descend the 100 steps to the viewing platform to see how rough seas have carved the sandstone into the shape of the map of Tasmania. It’s a popular spot for Instagrammers and surfers alike (but before you go, check with Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania that access has reopened. Upgrade works are due to finish in November 2019).