Have I shared enough about my deep love for Tassie yet?
Here’s four things we did near Hobart- and because, like us, you’ve just invested in an airline ticket to cross the Pacific, and then another one to jump the Bass Strait, these things are FREE.
#1 Cascade Brewery
The restaurant and gardens at Cascade Brewery are absolutely free to enter. Now, obviously you can purchase a flight of beer or a tour of the Brewery itself, but it’s free to enjoy the backdrop of the brewery against Mt. Wellington and have a walk through the landscaped gardens. The gardens are also a great place to let the little ones run off some energy.
#2 Mt. Wellington/kunanyi
A drive up Mt. Wellington is not for those who are afraid of rolling off the side of the mountain and plunging to their death #FYIthatsme. However, once you ascend the steep roadway, the view is worth the turmoil, and adults AND kids will enjoy the view from the (safe and secure) boardwalks. While Mt. Wellington looms over Hobart and seems so close to the downtown, the drive from Hobart takes 30+ minutes through all of the hairpin turns and elevation changes. Entrance is free. Sanity lost watching your husband and dad take your boys to climb to the Pinnacle is also free of charge.
Approximately 30 minutes outside of Hobart, Richmond is like stepping back in Tasmanian time. The oldest bridge in Australia is here, as well as the oldest Australian Catholic church. While walking around the quaint shops and strolling (or strollering, as we do) through the small town is free, spend a couple of bucks and get a treat at The Bakery Richmond. Eclairs, and scones and meat pies – OH MY! We tried all of their breakfast goodies and then bought an assortment of meat pies to take home for dinner (now there’s way to save some cash!)
#4 Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
On the banks of the Derwent River just steps from Hobart, the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Garden is a 13+ hectare delight. We packed a picnic lunch and drove to the Gardens, which provided a few free hours of entertainment. The views of the Derwent along with the manicured gardens pleased both young and old. My favorite things were all the local Australian flora (I was already getting homesick and we hadn’t even left the country!) and this urn made of wood blocks (can you believe it?). The kids liked feeding the seagulls their leftover lunch. Everybody left happy!
A roadtrip to Port Arthur is not one you’ll soon forget. Port Arthur Historic Site is one of 11 historic sites in Australia that together form the Australian Convicts Sites World Heritage. However, while the history of Port Arthur is engaging for the entire family, the drive from Hobart is just as exciting.
Traveling to Port Arthur from Hobart is easy. We rented a GPS unit from our rental car agency, but signage was frequent and helpful. The roads were another story. Roads in Tasmania are NARROW. While Google maps says you can make it to Port Arthur in 1 hour and 23 minutes from central Hobart, I’d add another 20 minutes WITHOUT stops. You’ll want to travel in safety. 🙂
That said, making the stops on the way to Port Arthur was definitely a highlight. We don’t have these vistas in mid-America! It’s said that the air in Tasmania is some of the cleanest in the world- And just from our road side view, the water appears to be just as clean.
After a quick stop at the beautiful Dunalley Bay, we noticed a turn-off for a lookout (and almost lost the rental on some washed-out road), but the danger was worth the cost:
Tasman National Park- what a view.
The kids were getting hungry and tired so we knew we could only probably make one more stop before continuing on to Port Arthur. We chose going to the Tasman Peninsula Blowhole. The kids were impressed, there was lots of room to run around, there were toilets, and there was a food truck with ice cream. #winning
This area is also known as Doo-Town. Where every house, boat, etc has a “Doo” name. This added some quirky fun to our Tasmanian roadtrip.
We made a doo-parture from Dootown (see what I did there?) and headed straight to Port Arthur.
Port Arthur Historic Site
Upon entering the Visitor Centre we were unsure as to what all the kids would be up to. Remember, our group ranged in age from 70 (sorry, dad!) to 2, so we needed to accommodate a lot of attention spans. The lady at the desk was very helpful and we decided to go with the standard entry ticket which includes access to all of the buildings, a 25-minute boat tour, and a 40-minute walking tour. As a plus to traveling with small children, kids under 6 are free, so Brian and I just had to pay for ourselves- the cost for adults was $37 AUD each. This is comparable to other Australian attractions and it is actually a two-day ticket, making it VERY affordable.
My only disappointment was that the walking tour wasn’t actually much of a walking tour. We walked maybe 100 feet. I was hoping we’d cover more of the grounds but the guide stood in a central location and just pointed to various sites. I think she was being considerate of some of the older crowd in our group (not my dad, ha!). I was thankful I’d packed little activities for the kids to hold. It was HOT and the information presented was probably more than these two cared to hear. Lol.
After the walking tour we roamed the buildings as we waited for the next timed boat tour. In retrospect, I wish we would have foregone the boat tour and just toured the buildings. The boat was packed and it was difficult to hear the guide. I’ve heard mixed reviews though, so if you go, do what feels best. If you are doing a tour of the Isle of the Dead of Point Puer Boys’ Prison, you’ll have to take the boat.
Places like this have a soft spot in my heart because being among the ruins allows you to picture how it would have been living there. This was a time when women were solely child-rearing homemakers and very few women existed on the island- except the Captain’s wives. Boys as young as 6 were doing hard manual labor! The guide pointed out to Jackson that at his age he’d be working 12 hours a day. In our day and age, it’s hard to understand how any child could become a convict.
Pictured above, The Penitentiary, one of the most photographed sites at Port Arthur. This building originally served as a flour mill, but as the convict numbers increased and the mill failed to supply enough flour, this was turned into a four story prison. The two lower floors were for the prisoners of the worst behavior.
I love old churches, so the ruins of “The Church,” built in 1837 with convict labor, was a highlight for me. Up to 1100 people attended the compulsory services each Sunday, as religion played a big role in convict reform. Walking through this reverent site, I thought of the young boys from the Point Puer prison that constructed much of the decorative stonework.
The government gardens were another memorable spot. This quiet space was off-limits to convicts.
If you go:
Take plenty of water. We went the first week of February and it was HOT. There isn’t a ton of shade, so pack your sunscreen as well.
Give your family plenty of time to really take in the history. In hindsight, we may have stayed the night near Port Arthur and went back the next morning. There’s much to see and one afternoon isn’t enough time.
Keep an eye out for wildlife! We were lucky enough to spot an echidna.
Oh, Tasmania. You took a little piece of my heart. Seeing how my beloved country began (albeit a little depressing) was worth the roadtrip. Don’t miss this.
I read so many things about Hobart before we visited in February- and it did not disappoint. The city of approximately 218,000 people is a small, desirable place. It’s easy to navigate, traffic is light, and while our accommodation and rental car were by no means cheap, Hobart is worth the trip!
The main tourist centers in Hobart are Battery Point, Salamanca Place, and Franklin Wharf. The city is walkable. Your best bet may be to secure parking near Salamanca Place and spend the day on foot (just don’t get a parking ticket like us).
We were visiting as a 3-generation family- my parents, my husband and I, and our three kids- so we parked at Battery Point and explored and then drove down to Salamanca Place and parked again. This allowed us to walk the length of Salamanca Place and through the Wharf area.
Battery Wharf is a darling part of the city. Evoking the Australia of old, the stone homes and quaint shops feel like a little like you’ve gone back to England. Battery Point takes up the southern part of the city’s harbour where the houses were built by the owners and sailors of the shipyards. We strolled up and down Hampden Road to get a good look at the Federation and colonial style cottages and shops. The Jackman and McRoss bakery looked ah-mazing (we had just eaten!) and the there were plenty of lodging options. My mom is a florist, so we enjoyed all the blooming hydrangeas and roses, while noticing all the minute detail of each property- if you go, pay special attention to the door-knockers and fence colors.
Walking through Salamanca Point, it was easy to see why people love Hobart. I’m a sucker for a view with water AND history, and this gives you both.
This is the place to shop and eat, although the shopping was a little out of our price point! Pubs were-a-plenty and we settled upon a wonderful Irish Murphy’s pub, and not just because they had this hilarious sign!
Once you walk the length of Salamanca Place (going north), head east toward Franklin Wharf. This is a beautiful walk on a sunny day. THIS is when I was ready to give up life in Ohio (Bahaha, not a hard decision) and move to the edge of the southern hemisphere. If the kids have anything left, go all the way to Hunter St.
If you make it this far, they’ll get to see statues of penguins and seals and a dog. This is something to promise! Or at least promise chips (french fries) from Mures Fish Centre. They were cheap, and the view can’t be beat. Just watch for the blood-sucking, french-fry eating seagulls. We saw a few servers trying all they could to remove patron’s food without a bird strike.
**We actually did not walk the full length on the first day. (You know that point when the kids have hit THE POINT). But we came back a few days later and parked next to the Tasmanian Museum (Davey St), so we could walk to the Old Wharf near Victoria Dock (see map below which is titled, “Why Leah shouldn’t do graphics. ever.”)**
Those are my best tips for a walking tour, here’s the nitty gritty of where we stayed and how much we paid!
Getting there: Hobart airport is itty-bitty. If you’re coming from Melbourne or Sydney, you’ll be sure you’ve stepped back in time! Hobart only offers domestic flights, and is serviced by Qantas, JetStar, Tiger Air, and Virgin Australia. We flew in on JetStar on a one-way ticket from Melbourne and left the island with Qantas, who was also our international carrier. Our one way flight from Melbourne on JetStar was approximately $90 USD per person, this included a prepaid checked bag for each of us and a $5 credit toward a snack onboard. Boarding JetStar at Melbourne is not very convenient with kids. The JetStar terminal is a loonnggg walk from security and you’re not allowed to take a stroller because you board on the tarmac. Just something to think about. For us, the cost savings in flying to Hobart was worth it. The price of Tiger Air was comparable, but Tiger Air definitely has a bad reputation down under.
Getting around: You must have a rental car in Tasmania!Hobart has plenty of rental car choices right at the airport. We chose Europcar for it’s affordability. We needed a 7-passenger vehicle and so, just like home, we reserved a minivan! Renting a minivan for 5 days was almost as expensive as the flights, we paid about $800 AUD ($610 USD), which included the cost of the GPS unit. The GPS unit was a worthwhile expense, we would have been lost without it (pun intended)! If you’re looking at a smaller vehicle, you’ll find much better deals.
Getting some sleep: I want to go back to Hobart just to rent the same house. No joke. We stayed in a rental just south of Hobart in Sandy Bay. I found the place on airbnb and it was even better than expected. Our rate for 5 nights was $1600 USD, which is a LOT, but we shared some of that expense with my parents AND we had a full backyard with a playset for the kids! We definitely saved money on eating out by having sandwiches for lunches and having a bbq for dinner one night. The view was unbeatable, too. Here’s a picture from my phone of the view from the dining room table, looking out over the Derwent River:
I definitely have more to share from Hobart and Tasmania, but I need to go and buy this shirt. Lol.
Have you been to Tasmania? What did you think of Hobart?