Caravanning Tasmania with kids and dog
We travelled to Tasmania with family, Jeep and caravan on the Spirit of Tasmania in Summer 2019. We spent 6 weeks in Tasmania and found it to be unlike anywhere we’ve been to on the mainland. Caravanning Tasmania with kids and our dog smashed all our expectations.
We remember Tassie fondly for these reasons:
– Love Tassie’s food ethos: its clean water, pure air and rich soil means the produce is the best! Businesses support only local Tasmanian produce, if they don’t grow it or make it they don’t sell it. It reminds us of Italy and their love of local seasonal produce.
– Friendliness: we’ve found Tasmanians friendly, helpful and very proud of their towns and State.
– Stunning natural splendour: there’s 50 shades of green with beautiful rolling hills and water views. On the other hand there’s so much water (oceans/lakes/dams) and everyone seems to have a water view.
– Slow pace: there’s a laid back relaxed culture, the roads are quiet and there’s no busy traffic jams.
We sailed over with our caravan and dog on the Spirit of Tasmania, which was a memorable journey. I wrote about our return sail and our experience travelling with kids and a dog. Read our experience here.
Stanley – North West Tasmania
First stop caravanning Tasmania with the kids and dog was the historic quaint little town of Stanley, home of The Nut. Stanley is a historic coastal village nestled at the base of the Nut, an ancient volcanic plug. We set up base camp here in far north-west Tasmania to explore the wonder of Stanley and Tarkine.
Over the first 4 days the winds averaged 40km/h, with peaks of 60km/h. We weren’t complaining (much) being force fed the purest air in the world. The air station at Cape Grim in North-West Tasmania measures air quality and is the worlds baseline as pollution rises.
We grabbed a brochure highlighting the Cradle To Coast Tasting Trail. Our goal was to try tick off as many foodie experiences as we could. We love to support local businesses and sample the best a region has to offer. Dining out isn’t something we do much these days, our kids don’t enjoy it and we don’t like being rushed. Yet, we can still always find a way to happily eat our way around a region.
In Stanley we enjoyed our first traditional scallop pie of the trip and it’s safe to say it wasn’t our last. And we loved the famous Stanley Hursey Rock Lobster curry. I enjoyed Tarkine fresh oysters washed down with a Tasmanian wine and local sourdough bread from Providore 24 in Stanley.
Edge of the World
We drove to the Edge of the world on a day trip which was a unique experience. There’s no land between there and Argentina, making it the longest uninterrupted stretch of ocean on Earth. It was cold, wild and woolly and everything you would imagine it to be.
HydraTED Pet Travel Water Bottle - click image for more info.
15,000km of wild and untamed Great Southern Ocean logs have been carried and washed up along the banks and entrance to Arthur River. The ocean and the river mouth was black with a hint of burgundy, almost purple, eerily powerful. The colour comes from the tannins in all the driftwood logs.
We crossed Arthur River bridge and in typical Tassie style, the weather was moody and wild on way over and then became bright and sunny on the return trip.
After this we discovered another great foodie stop, which was Blue Hills Honey located South East of Stanley. The pure honey there is from local Leatherwood trees. Unique to the wild West Coast Tasmanian rainforests . We sampled a warming whiskey honey mead and ate lunch in their cafe, tapas style delicious meals and kids had their watermelon sorbet.
Penguin – North Tasmania
Back on the road caravanning Tasmania with the kids and dog, we arrived in Penguin, a gorgeous seaside town on the north-west Coast of Tasmania in between Ulverstone and Burnie. There we camped on the Penguin ocean front at a lovely little park. It was only $35 a night, with no extra for kids which was very much appreciated!
Forever on the foodie train from there we tracked down the home of our favourite pickled onions, Blue Banner. From there we visited Hellyer Road Distillery, where we sampled one of Australia’s best single malt whiskeys.
One of our favourites lunches was at Windows on Westalla the cafe at Blue Banner in Ulverstone. Tassie does a kids platter well. This one had fairy bread, fruit, cheese and biscuits, hot chips and a freddo frog, much to our children’s delight.
Strahan – West Coast
Next stop was Strahan for one night. Strahan is a small harbourside village with a dark and fascinating convict past. The town of Stanley is set on the edge of the wilderness world heritage area.
From Strahan we set off caravanning Tasmania with the kids and dog in tow towards Hobart, via Queenstown. The stark steep climb out of Queenstown is dramatic to say the least. Add to this a dark, cold dreary moody day and it’s a vision we will not forget in a hurry.
The landscape of Tasmania is beautiful and continually changing. Rainforest to rolling green hills to farmland, all in the space of 10 mins.
Dog Car Seat Belt is an essential pet travel accessory, clips to harness & seat belt clasp - click image for details
Hobart – South Tasmania
At Salamanca Markets the RSPCA had pet parking. You could leave your pet safely whilst checking out the markets, brilliant fundraising initiative! And they had family Christmas pet photos. Good thing our dog Ted was ok with us crashing his Santa photo.
Huon Valley – Southern Tasmania
We stayed at the picturesque Huon Valley Caravan Park. The lovely owners of this lush green park were travelling Australia for 2 years. They ventured South of Hobart and stumbled upon paradise in the Huon Valley. Safe to say they haven’t left.
Huon Valley is an idyllic farm setting on 27 acres with river frontage. With large sites, platypus viewing, swimming river with sandy bank, daily Tassie Devil feedings, campfires and BBQ’s by the River.
Our son said he loved it there as he felt free. We couldn’t agree more, it was our favourite caravan park stay in Tasmania.The park has beach front for swimming if you’re willing to brave the cold! Platypus are in the river, we saw one for a fleeting moment! There’s no doubt there were more that our kids scared away, as a result of being so loud…
In the area we enjoyed Cider tasting at Willie Smith’s Cider Makers and delicious lunch at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed. Lots of history here as you would imagine in the Apple Isle
25 mins north east of Hobart, we stayed 5 nights in historic Richmond, in the Coal River Region.
Richmond is a town steeped in history, it has a colonial feel and gorgeous historic Georgian architecture. It’s Main Street is full of historic buildings, artisan crafts and gourmet food and wine.
Our highlight of Richmond was driving over Australia’s oldest stone arch bridge, which is still in use. After the bridge, we toured one of the best preserved gaols existing in Tasmania and visited Australia’s oldest Catholic Church.
Richmond has the oldest intact Gaol in Australia, the building commenced in 1825 and predates Port Arthur. Every room presented a great photo opportunity. Our kids had fun on a gaol treasure hunt and as a result we had to keep walking around in circles until we found everything on the list.
Near Richmond, Puddleduck Vineyard is a winery with a playground, which is genius! There we enjoyed a wine without the whine.
Bruu’ny not Brr’run’ey as corrected by a friendly local is a 15min ferry ride from Kettering, South of Hobart.
The ferry trip is quick and easy. No booking required, just rock up and you get on the next one as they run every half hour. Bruny is a very big island. And to put it in perspective the Island is around half the size of Singapore, with 620 people versus 5.8M.
The island is a nature lovers paradise, wilderness, bush walks, coastal tracks. We stayed at the caravan park in Adventure Bay. On 26 January 1777 Cook sailed the Resolution and Discovery into Adventure Bay and stayed for 2 days. This is where Cooks tree stood inscribed, they removed it and placed in the museum for posterity.
We had the beach to ourselves but did find the ‘must see’ foodie stops were busy, with busloads of tourists. All roadwork signs were in English and Chinese, with tourism essential for the success of the island.
Our favourite thing after the spectacular views was Get Shucked Bruny Island Oysters and Bruny Island Cheese. Our next favourite thing was lunch and the wine tasting at Bruny Island Premium Wines.
Bruny Island is home to a balanced mix of grazing land, pristine National Park, and dry Eucalyptus Forest.
The Neck, connects north and south Bruny and important habitat for native wildlife. Boardwalks and viewing platforms let you observe short-tailed shearwaters and fairy penguins.
Port Arthur was a place that we knew we had to visit.
On the way there we stopped at Eaglehawk Neck. It’s a place of several unusual geological formations and history relating to Port Arthur. In 1833 Eaglehawk Neck was the sight of a military outpost setup to watch for escaping prisoners. They had an army of dogs positioned to raise alarm if they spotted an escapee.
In this area we visited a natural arch, blowhole and the tessellated pavement; an unusual natural phenomenon found in only a few places on earth.
Next stop was Port Arthur; one of Australia’s most important heritage destinations. We found out that Port Arthur was pet friendly which was a bonus. I don’t think Ted has ever walked so many steps.
The Port Arthur Historic Site encompasses 100 acres of grounds and gardens and it’s a beautiful sight. It was more than a prison; a complete community with more than 30 historic buildings and ruins and many stories to explore.
Port Arthur is an epic story of forced migration and settlement and the home of the ‘worse class’ of convicts. With so much history. It’s hard to imagine the conditions the prisoners would have lived in.
Finally, it’s difficult to comprehend and tough not to image the horrors that took place here 23 years ago. It’s unfathomable to imagine and difficult to comprehend what occurred there.
Port Arthur is a place that will stay with you long after you leave.
We spent a good few hours at Port Arthur, until the kids couldn’t walk anymore, yet there was still more to see. The entry tickets allow for two days access, which would be great if you were staying close by. It was a shame for us that the caravan park in Port Arthur isn’t pet friendly. So instead we organised a day trip from Richmond.
St Helens & the Bay of Fires – East Coast
We set up camp for a week at St Helens Big 4 Holiday Park. There we had a great stay and met some lovely fellow travellers.
The clear highlight from our time in St Helens was seeing the much photographed beautiful Bay of Fires. It is said that its name refers to the Aboriginal fires spotted by Captain Tobias Furneaux when he sailed past in 1773. However, it could also apply to the brilliant orange lichen that grows on the granite boulders lining the coastline.
Another unique and fun experience was a visit to the Pub in the Paddock in Pyengana. And it was there that we met a very thirsty pig known as Priscilla. Further around the corner is the Holy Cow Cheese Factory. And lastly down the road is where we found a wonderful rainforest walk leading to St Columbia Falls.
We spent an overnighter in Ross, on route to Launceston from St Helens. Ross is a convict built stone village in the Midlands. Above all Ross is well preserved and is arguably the finest nineteenth century village in Australia. Ross bridge was a gorgeous sight, built by convict labour in 1836. The Ross bridge is Australia’s 3rd oldest bridge that’s still in use today.
In Ross we walked around the historic town, which is right on the doorstep of the caravan park. Then, we enjoyed lunch at another of Tassies oldest pubs, the Man O’ Ross, which opened in 1835. The bistro was full so we ate lunch in the bar much to the kids delight. I had their lamb shank and it was amazing. The kids then had the best ice-creams they had in Tassie, voted by them at the Ross Ice Cream Shop! Which was the best, because it had fresh berries smashed in a creamy homemade ice cream.
We had heard a lot about the Gorge so went to check it out, everything there is free except for the chair lift. The gorge is a fun place for kids. There’s easy walks, suspension bridge, playground, pool for the brave and wildlife. We watched groups of beautiful peacocks roaming throughout the grounds. After lots of excitement from the kids, we took them on the chairlift. It was a little scary to say the least. The three of them had a ball and we felt very brave taking 3 x fidgety 3yos on an old school chairlift. I held on to Scarlett so tightly as she kept inching forward.
We visited Grindelwald, which is a small town just north of Launceston. Grindelwald was developed in the style of a Swiss village by Roelf Vos. Roelf was a Dutch immigrant to Tasmania, who sold his “Roelf Vos” supermarket chain to Woolworths. We felt the town would have been lovely in its day but needs an upgrade.
Back in Launceston the kids enjoyed spending time at the Queen Victoria Museum. The museum is the largest museum in Australia that’s not located in a capital city. Entry is by donation. The museum was a great place to spend a hour or so with the kids burning off some energy. Next to the museum is a Tram museum and an art gallery, so you could easily make a day of it.
On our last week caravanning Tasmania with the kids and dog we went to Ulverstone for a few days before boarding the Spirit of Tasmania.
In Ulverstone we stayed at the Big 4. From there we visited Reliquaire, a toy and gift shop in La Trobe. It’s a very cool shop with something for everyone! Plus they have secret rooms you can walk though and find magical things! It’s so much more than a shop.
In Devonport we went to see the very stripy Mersey Bluff Lighthouse. After the lighthouse we payed a visit to our favourite Windows on Westella (Tasmania pickled onions) as we couldn’t resist another of their platters. It was that good! The kids thought there’s was the best platter of Tasmania too.
The weather during our time caravanning Tasmania with the kids and dog was mostly cold and windy. Consequently the weather warmed up for our last couple of days, reaching the mid-20’s. The temp change was so nice, yet it wasn’t warm enough to swim. We’ll never forget our Summer in Tassie and its gorgeous beaches and arctic waters.
Finally after there, we journed back to the mainland on the Spirit of Tasmania, you can read all about our trip aboard here. Tassie you have so much to offer and we loved spending 6 weeks caravanning around. Finally we’ll all remember our time caravanning Tasmania with the kids and Ted dog very fondly. We found Tasmania to be a sensational safe place to caravan around. It was a big highlight on our lap of Australia!
I’m not sure how it can get any better?