Itinerary for Tasmania - road trip with the family
Updated: an hour ago
Tasmania is a nature lovers paradise and we were fortunate to spend almost two weeks completing the ultimate Tasmania road trip with kids. Tasmania is the perfect spot to travel with kids especially taking in the gorgeousness of Wineglass Bay and Freycinet National Park, feasting at Taste of Tasmania in Hobart and taking in the grandeur of Cradle Mountain.
The diversity of a road trip in Tasmania will have you waking early and excited for what every new day brings so let’s get started on showing you through the ultimate travel guide to Tasmania starting with the planning essentials.
Getting to Tasmania
There are essentially two ways to get to Tasmania, either by plane or on board the Spirit of Tasmania ferry service. The ferry service operates from Melbourne and will connect you to the port city of Devonport and gives you the flexibility of taking your own car for an additional fee. At the time we travelled however it was quicker and more cost effective for us to fly from Sydney to Launceston and then rent a car.
Flying into Launceston we managed to pick up an awesome car hire deal from the airport. Keep in mind with car hire that the best deals are often found if you book well in advance of your trip. It also pays to try and make your trip circular so you can start and finish in the same place to avoid the excess charges for a one-way rental.
Summer weather in Tasmania
Summer time in Tasmania can still throw you a mixed bag of weather so a guide to what to pack may be helpful. The climate’s do vary a little in different regions of Tasmania so here is my breakdown:
North Eastern Tasmania Weather (Bicheno/Freycinet National Park)
This region will greet with you with some of the warmest and most temperate climates in Tasmania. Our visit to Freycinet in January brought with it warm, sunny weather with temps in the 20’s so comfortable for hiking and recreation. Most days we were in shorts and t-shirts with some layering of jumpers and windbreaker jackets in the early morning and late afternoon. We did swim at the beaches but for those of you travelling from warmer climates don’t expect the severe heat of mainland Australia. Swimming in Tassie is a bit brisker but oh so refreshing in the crystal-clear waters of these parts. In January we did experience some short periods of rainfall over the days we were in Bicheno but they didn’t last long before the sun came beaming through once more.
An additional tip for hiking in Freycinet and Cable Mountain in January – bring your mozzie spray and/or dress with your skin completely covered up if possible. The mosquitos in both Freycinet and Cable Mountain were extremely unforgiving in the summer period and I literally had welts from bites even through clothing.
The first two days of our Hobart stay we experienced record high temperatures that were stifling hot and were further heightened by some intense bushfires burning in the ranges. The thing to note with Hobart even in the height of summer though is that the temperatures can drop considerably at night time. Best plan of attack for Hobart is to layer and expect the unexpected weather wise.
If you venture to the top of Mount Wellington bring your winter woolies! What was warm and comfortable in the city was bone crunching freezing at the top of Mount Wellington!
Cradle Mountain Weather
January in Cradle Mountain for us was picture perfect. We were super lucky to experience crystal clear, crisp sunny mountain days perfect for photographing one of the most stunning natural attractions in Australia. Layers are important with alpine environments as they are subject to dramatic temperature drops with minimal notice so keep a jacket and warmer layers handy when hiking.
As with Freycinet, mosquito repellent and covered skin will be your best friend whilst hiking at Cradle Mountain National Park.
For this road trip I have provided a breakdown of distances, road conditions and great places to stop and sightsee along the way.
Launceston to Bicheno – 164kms; 2-2.5 hours
The most direct route is via National Highway 1 and Lake Leake Highway/B34. Googlemaps recommend 2 hours for this trip but probably allow even longer. The roads in this part of Tasmania once you exit the highway are very narrow, winding and have little to no shoulder in many parts so being unfamiliar with the roads makes it worth taking the drive easy.
For the north eastern section of our Tasmania trip we opted to stay in Bicheno which is centrally located to both the Bay of Fires and Freycinet National Park. Whilst this allows you to day trip easily to nearby highlights it means you can blend an affordable beach holiday with some great National Parks.
Bicheno, and Tasmanian beaches as a whole are simply the cleanest and most untouched anywhere in the world. I often get a little sad at the amount of pollution on many beaches overseas these days so it is very satisfying to see that Australia still has the best beaches anywhere in the world. Bicheno itself is relaxed and pretty with lots of vantage points over the coastline and a simple but interesting main street with some good cafes. There is a good sized IGA in town to stock up on some groceries and the town is loaded with great value accommodation options.
Places to stay in Bicheno
I highly recommend heading to the private rentals for a stay in Bicheno. Perched on the hill overlooking the beach we stayed in this gem of a house with 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen, bbq and wifi. This place was modern, comfortable and an easy walk down the hill to the beach. This house books out quickly though so book in advance - you can search for availability at Sun, Surf n Sand via this link.
Another comfortable and modern option right within town these two-bedroom apartments are also perfect for travelling families.
Places to stay in Coles Bay
To maximise time in Freycinet National Park you can also stay in the heart of Coles Bay just a few minutes away.
The epitome of beach house cool. Step onto the pristine white sand beach from your own beach shack.
I love that this place gives you the view across to the Hazards in a comfortable, modern home incredibly close to the National Park.
Freycinet National Park for Families – Wineglass Bay
Highlights of Freycinet National Park
The major drawcard of North-Eastern Tasmania is the highly impressive Freycinet National Park and the beauty in particular of Wineglass Bay and the Hazards mountain range. The National Park is easily accessible to self-drive and park your car at the base of trail heads to keep exploring further.
Visiting Freycinet with kids was a fun experience so here is our breakdown of the best things to do. We recommend two days to experience the very best of Freycinet and to set your schedule a little cleverly to avoid the crowds. The park is reasonably compact and if not completing one of the multi-day hikes you could also complete the full park in one day if you wanted.
Collect your National Parks Pass to get started. We did this back at the tourist info office in Bicheno to avoid the cues and wait time at the National Park itself. If you are travelling around Tasmania it is worth purchasing the $60 holiday pass (per car – price as at time of publishing) which will provide you entry to all of the National Parks in Tasmania including the shuttle bus service within Cradle Mountain National Park.
This first day we used to cover all the highlights of Freycinet not including Wineglass Bay Lookout. Using the best part of a full day meant we could drive and stop at all the little coves and hiking points to really get a great feel for the natural beauty. Highlights include:
Heading out along the Cape Tourville Road, the Tourville Lighthouse consists of a short 600m circuit around the point of the lighthouse affording excellent views of the National Park and beaches below - a great way to start the day.
Approximately two thirds of the way back on the Cape Tourville Road you will see Sleepy Bay signposted to your left. This is another short walk to a viewpoint or potentially all the way down to the cove below to watch the waves crashing into the orange-hued rocks. This was a really pretty spot to let the kids play and climb over the boulders whilst we watched the waves crashing in. The walk is very short but has some steep sections.
Honeymoon Bay, one of the popular camping areas in the National Park is a stunning spot for a lunch break. Popular for snorkelling and scrambling over the rocks this is a serene spot to just relax and take in the vista of the bay backdropped against the Hazards mountains.
As the warmth of a summer day begs you for a swim, we found the best spot for kid-friendly swimming was at Richardsons Beach. You can find this beach by parking at the National Parks office and following the trail located behind the main building. A wave free bay, this place is a magical spot for a swim and cool down at the end of a day of exploring.
Wineglass Bay Lookout without the crowds
The most common and recognisable picture of Wineglass Bay is taken from the heights of Wineglass Bay Lookout. The lookout itself provides stunning pics but as with most popular spots you want to try and experience this without all the selfie-stick wielding tourists. This National Park is super popular and given it was the summer peak we opted to use New Years Day to our advantage and beat all the people sleeping in from their late night. Arriving just after sunrise we were one of the first groups of the day heading up to the lookout.
The hike itself is 2.6km return and due to visitor numbers has a separate climb up and down to avoid incessant passing. The trail is well maintained and although steep in sections is easily achievable for most moderately fit people.
Before you even reach the lookout take a glance back over your shoulder and you are rewarded with fabulous views back over Coles Bay. Once at the top you can take in the expansive Wineglass Bay which truly measures up to the hype. Early in the morning on a clear, sunny day it really is one of the prettiest places to be.
We were fortunate to get the lookout to ourselves for approximately ten minutes of bliss before the next group arrived which were selfie prepped teenage girls so happily we continued on our way to give them their moment.
Our original plan was to complete the longer Wineglass Bay, Hazards Beach track which is a loop of 11.3km usually completed in a clock-wise direction. After leaving the lookout the trail starts the sharp climb down to Wineglass Bay via a long stairway. Unfortunately as we reached the bottom and could glimpse the water within our reach we were greeted across the track by an agitated snake. After calming the kids we did have to turn back at this point as the heavily vegetated part of the trail didn’t really allow us to safely pass when the snake decided to not move on.
Turning back at this point sadly meant that the hardest part of the hike had been completed and we had to repeat the whole thing in reverse instead of circuiting around the beach and across the flatter lagoon. Grim kids faces and lots of counting stairs and motivational speeches to get the kids back to the car from that point but we made it. It’s all character building after all!
Make sure you carry plenty of water and some snacks or lunch to get you through and if you want to take a dip in Wineglass Bay you can also pack swimmers and a towel.
Activities in Freycinet
You can easily visit Freycinet cheaply or at no cost other than your National Parks Pass however if you are keen to explore further and indulge in some of the activities on offer in the region then check out these options.
A bestseller, pre-book this discounted cruise to experience the best of Freycinet from the water.
Rent a kayak from Coles Bay and paddle at your own pace
Bicheno to Hobart – 182kms; 2.5 hours
Again, we took the trip between Bicheno to Hobart more leisurely and turned this into a day trip with scenic stops along the way. The roads improve the closer to Hobart you get but take your time on the scenic coastal and farmland areas where the roads are narrow. Great stops between Freycinet and Hobart include:
A cute seaside town to savour and take a morning tea break at Kate’s Berry Farm for delicious scones or another sweet treat.
A slight deviation from the highway but worthy of your time. I will cover Richmond in more detail in my day trips section under Hobart!
Hobart in January
Early January is a fantastic time to visit Hobart with the Sydney to Hobart yacht race just wrapped up and the Taste of Tasmania festival in full swing so the city has an atmosphere of energy and excitement. Visitors and locals alike seem completely relaxed and a real holiday vibe rests over Hobart at this time. This is probably the absolute peak season for Hobart though so you must book early to secure good accommodation options.
Best place to stay in Hobart
Private holiday rentals are aplenty in Hobart and I absolutely love staying in some of the beautifully renovated character filled homes and apartments. If travelling with kids in Hobart the opportunity to expand out into a larger accommodation space is always appreciated.
Here are three of the very best private accommodation options near the Hobart CBD.
Located in historic Battery Point which is walking distance to Salamanca yet in a quiet residential area with great pubs nearby. This clean, modern apartment is a great option for family accommodation in Hobart.
Close to the highlights of Hobart City this beautifully renovated 3 bedroom place will delight with it’s style and homeliness.
Located in the city centre with onsite car parking this 1-bedroom apartment has been designed for space and comfort and will suit smaller family groups.
Things to do in Hobart with Kids
Hobart is a beautiful harbour-front city and worthy of at least four to five days of exploration. There are also numerous day trips that can be enjoyed from Hobart. Here is my list of best things to do in Hobart with kids.
The Taste of Tasmania is Australia’s longest running foodie festival that sprawls across Hobart’s Salamanca and Prince’s Wharf and draws thousands of locals and tourists. The event is scheduled over the busy Christmas and New Year period each year and is bursting with colours, smells and sounds to awaken the senses.
I recommend scheduling your Tasmania itinerary around Taste of Tasmania as there are literally hundreds of vendors selling every type of food, produce and beverages so you can stroll to your hearts content. Once you make your selections settle in at your live music venue of choice to have a lively family picnic. The event is free and the hardest part will be deciding what to eat!
Taste of Tasmania for kids is very easy and relaxed and there are many stalls and activities set up for kids throughout the venue.
One for the parents of course but a tour through the Cascade Brewery is interesting and includes tasting sessions to wrap things up.
Join this full day tour option that includes the Cascade Brewery if you want some included transportation.
Winding up scenic Pinnacle Road will bring you to the summit of Mount Wellington which looms in the background of Hobart. A great spot for 360-degree vistas from the expansive observation decks and if you are super keen try hiking some or all of this mountain to get a killer burn in your quads.
For the adventurous or families with teenagers you can hit the adrenaline switch with a descent mountain bike adventure from the pinnacle back to Hobart.
It was excessively freezing even in January at the top of Mount Wellington so don't forget to bring your coats.
TheSalamanca Markets are held each Sunday between 8.30am and 3.00pm and is a great place to check out loads of local art, craft, foods and entertainment. If visiting the Salamanca markets with kids I recommend going first thing when it opens or later in the day. We hit the peak around mid-morning and it was a bit of a crush at times making it a bit tricky with kids.
Make sure you take some time to wander the laneways around Salamanca as well to appreciate the stunning architecture and maybe slip into a café to support the local business owners.
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
So pretty and just moments from the CBD, the botanic gardens offer a relaxing morning or afternoon for families where the kids can run free to favourite sections such as the lily pond and Japanese gardens. Entry is free.
Big Bash Cricket
If you are fortunate to visit Hobart over the Australian summer a great family night out is to grab some tickets to the Big Bash Cricket if teams are in town. Cheer on the local Hobart Hurricanes and arrive early to have a walk around the suburban area of Bellerive which has picturesque outlook over the harbour back towards the city.
The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) was on our list of places to visit in Hobart however we completely ran out of time with the four days we stayed. It is the largest privately owned museum in the Southern Hemisphere and by all reports is a quirky and stimulating place to visit.
Day trips from Hobart
There are several more highlights nearby to head out for a day trip from Hobart. The best Hobart day trips include:
Richmond is a historic colonial village located just thirty minutes from Hobart by car. The Richmond Bridge lays claim to being the oldest stone arch bridge in Australia and a wander along the banks of the river will allow a picturesque photo.
The village centre is super cute with flower boxes spilling out into the street and Georgian architecture creating an almost fairy tale feel to the town. For kids, there is a lovely playground and green oval for playing and an eye-opening old school lolly shop. There are some lovely bakeries and cafes for a bite to eat and the option to wander through the galleries and small shops.
A few minutes from town is the Zoodoo Zoo, a small privately run zoo. You only need about three hours to visit this zoo and the highlight for kids involve feeding a tiger and being mobbed by emus on the zoo safari which is quite funny to watch. The zoo also has an indoor play centre and a farmyard barn where kids can pat lots of friendly farm animals.
Off the South East coast of Hobart is Bruny Island offering the opportunity to visit untouched beaches and wilderness of Tasmania’s mainland. You can visit Bruny Island on your own with a car ferry operating to get there or alternately jump on board a tour to Bruny Island.
Port Arthur is a preserved penal colony and is now a heritage listed historic site. You can find more information on the activities available at Port Arthur via the Tasmania tourism site.
You can pre-purchase discounted tickets to Port Arthur to save time.
Hobart to Queenstown – Strahan – 260kms; 3.5 hours
This trip is dramatic and interesting and definitely deserves longer than indicated. The road on the Queenstown end was particularly bendy which made for some unwell kids in the back seat and pretty tired parents so best not to try and fit too much further driving distance on this trip.
A fantastic stop between Hobart and Queenstown is Mount Field National Park to take an exquisite hike to visit Russell Falls, Lady Baron Falls and the Tall Trees walk.
This place is quite magical and peaceful and rivals all the more popular and busy tourist attractions in Tasmania. An insider tip, arrive nice and early in the morning and enjoy this walk with only the sounds of nature for company. You will need your parks pass to enter the park.
Getting to Russell Falls is pretty straightforward being just over an hour from Hobart following the New Norfolk on the A10 or B62 roads.
Lake St Clair
A second recommended stop between Hobart and Queenstown is Lake St Clair approximately 2.5 hours from Hobart. Lake St Clair marks the southern border of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair Parks and is Tasmanian wilderness at its very best. Enjoy a lunch break here and go on some short or longer walks depending on the time you have to savour the scenery. Kids will enjoy the National Parks office which has a good display of educational materials about the region with a focus on the native animals in the park.
Tip: It was pretty chilly at Lake St Clair even in early January so handy to have a coat in the car to throw on for this stop.
Places to stay Queenstown Tasmania
Queenstown is a pretty sleepy old mining town and the accommodation is largely catering to the road trippers passing through as they explore the south western quadrant of Tasmania. We stayed at the Comfort Inn Gold Rush and found the rooms to be clean, comfortable and warm which is all we needed for our one-night stay. The owners of this motel were very friendly and accommodating.
If you want to spend some additional time in the region perhaps head towards Strahan which is more geared to travellers. Once in Strahan you can head out on a Gordon River Cruise or explore Tasmania’s picturesque west coast on a scenic flight and cruise package.
Queenstown to Cradle Mountain – 119kms; 1.45 hours via the B28 route
Cradle Mountain National Park with Kids
Cradle Mountain National Park ranks as one of Australia's most beautiful National Parks and is an awesome place to visit with kids to soak in some of nature's wonder.
Places to stay near Cradle Mountain
When visiting Cradle Mountain there are a couple of places located within the National Park or very close by or you also have the option to stay near Sheffield known as the mural town of Tasmania which will give you access to a supermarket and other key services.
Rolands Feet Retreat was our absolute favourite holiday rental during our Tasmania trip. Nestled high in the trees flanked by the impressive Mount Roland this property is just five minutes out of Sheffield (on the Cradle Mountain side). This home oozed comfort and homeliness with high quality furnishings and linens and a convenient location just under an hour from Cradle Mountain National Park. The parents retreat and bathroom complete with floor to ceiling bush views was luxurious and the kids’ room is decked out with colourful bunk beds and some toys for added touch. After a day of hiking a glass of wine on the extended bush deck is the icing on the cake to a perfect day in Tasmania. Check for prices to stay at Roland's Feet Retreat.
If you are keen to stay closer to the National Park then Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village is a great choice for families. Just five minutes from the visitors centre and offering self-catering accommodations in a forest setting this is an awesome option when travelling with kids. Keep in mind there are no supermarkets near the National Park so if you are self-catering you will need to arrive stocked and ready to go.
Cradle Mountain Day Hike with kids
On arrival to Cradle Mountain you will need to park at the visitors centre and if you have already purchased a Parks Holiday Pass (see above) you are good to go for the day and can join the cue to hop on board one of the shuttle transits. A driver guide will provide a lowdown on how the shuttles operate and the key landmarks at each of the stops along the way.
Before catching the shuttle collect a detailed walking map from the visitors centre and plan your day to make the most of your time. For us, we knew that we wanted to get away from the mass of tourists so the best way to do this is to head out on a lengthier day hike in the park.
We headed out on a longer (approximately 9.5 km) circuit from the Ronny Creek drop off towards Crater Lake which is also the first section of the Overland Track.
Getting to Crater Lake involves some flat plains hiking on a raised boardwalk to begin before starting some steep climbs amongst rainforest and past the Crater Falls which is really quite a beautiful journey in itself. Crater Lake sits stunningly carved into the mountains with a picturesque little boat house in one corner for great pics.
Continuing to wrap around Crater Lake and a further upward you reach Wombat Peak and the expanse of the National Park begins to open up before you. From the t-junction you can continue upwards to the Marion Point Lookout. We followed this trail halfway up to get some good photos but the kids were starting to get pretty tired so we started back down onto Wombat Creek track to start the descent back to Dove Lake. The Wombat Creek track followed a spectacular route downwards past Wombat Lake, Lilla Lake and then eventually Dove Lake giving panoramic views of Cradle Mountain as you went on.
Of course, finishing at Dove Lake you have this view awaiting you and we were fortunate enough to enjoy it on a picture-perfect sunny day.
Shorter Hikes for young kids in Cradle Mountain
If you are travelling with younger kids, I recommend the Dove Lake Loop instead or you can take little kids on some of the shorter options such as the Enchanted Walk or the Pencil Pine Falls and Rainforest walk. Ideally your best option even if you just go out and back in some sections is to head out for a walk from the Dove Lake shuttle stop as this was the most dramatic and scenic part of the park.
Well this has been a big one! There is so much to see and do in Tasmania and I highly recommend this road trip as an awesome trip to take with kids. Australia is fortunate to have a plethora of stunning natural attractions and places to visit however Tasmania is one of our favourites for the diversity that it provides and the family friendly experiences.
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If you would like to check out my other Australian destinations read on about Jervis Bay with pets and kids.
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