4 FREE things to do around Hobart

Once you’ve just invested in an airline ticket to cross the Pacific, or maybe just one across the Bass Strait, you’re probably looking for something FREE to do in Tasmania.  While getting to Tasmania can be quite the journey, there are free things to do once you arrive!

Here are 4 free things to do around Hobart.  And a bonus, all of them are family-friendly.

#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.

Free excursions from Hobart
View of the restaurant from the gardens

Free excursions from Hobart

#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. 😉

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#3 Richmond

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!)

The drive from Hobart to Richmond is only about 45 minutes.  It may have taken longer because we needed to stop for some cows crossing the road.

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#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!

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For more on our trip to Hobart, Tasmania:

City Travel Guide:  Hobart with Kids

Three Generations Roadtrip: Hobart to Port Arthur

Have you been to Hobart?  Any free things to do in Hobart that I may have missed?

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Three Generations Roadtrip: Hobart to Port Arthur

A three generations roadtrip from Hobart 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.

Getting there

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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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If you go:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

For your continued reading:  A Walking Tour of Hobart + tips for if you go

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Yoder Toter children to meet the Land Down Under

It’s only 6 months til we are “wheels down” in Australia.

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If you’re new here, you may not realize that I was an exchange student to Australia.  Actually 15 years ago (this Friday) I took my first ever flight to Australia for what would begin a year away from my family and friends.  It was a fantastic time and I as much as I loved the scenery and the FOOD (secret- I weighed less after baby #3 than I did after a year in Oz thankyouverymuch host mummy), the people and relationships were the best part!

I’m super excited to share for #WishfulWednesday that we have MOST of our Australia itinerary finally cemented! It’s been a dream of mine since having Jackson to visit Down Under with our children and have them meet all of our friends and families.  I’m also ready to introduce them to koalas, kangaroos, Lamingtons, and meat pies.

While most of where we are visiting I have been before, Melbourne will be new for Brian and I’m so thrilled we’ll be visiting Tasmania for the first time.

Here is a short recap of our itinerary:

Arrive Sydney and travel to Maitland, NSW

10 days total in the Hunter Valley region visiting with friends, sitting on the beach (Port Stephens), and hoping our children adjust to their new time zone!

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My photo of the Nelson Bay area with the state flower, the waratah, in the foreground. I can’t wait to explore this area further.

 

Spend 2 days in Sydney for Australia Day – Not only are there tall ships in the Harbour and a fireworks display on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but a certain “Wiggly” group frequents the Australia Day celebration.  I may be as excited as the kids!

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credit: Brendan Read/ Australia Day council of NSW

Next we’re off to Melbourne for 4 nights and the main reason for visiting here is to take in the Australian Open.  It has been a dream of Brian’s to see a major tennis tournament so we’re working on getting tickets (they open up in August) and hopefully we’ll get to see one of our favorites at Rod Laver Arena.

Our trip will end in Hobart, Tasmania and from here we’re hoping to explore Freycinet National Park and Port Arthur before returning home.

We’ll be on the ground in Australia for 3 weeks!  There will be at least 7 plane rides and countless train, bus and ferries as well.

Everyone I’ve spoken to thinks we are nuts for taking such a long plane trip with three little ones, but I say “go big or go home” and hey, who else is going to take the LONGEST FLIGHT IN THE WORLD from Dallas to Sydney for 17 HOURS unless they are a little crazy?!

 

Anyone have any tips for a 17 hour plane trip?  Maybe you have been to Australia?  Maybe you just like Outback Steakhouse?  I’d love to hear!

 

We’re back now.  Here are some updates:

Australia recap

Australia Day in Sydney

My happy place, Port Stephens

City Guide: Hobart with Kids

A Walking Tour of Melbourne

4 Free Excursions from Hobart



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