Things to Do in Hobart for Families

 

Tasmania’s capital city of Hobart is a destination brimming with fun attractions that will keep the kids happy and entertained. From family-friendly museums and historical sights to playgrounds and adventure parks, there’s a child-friendly activity around every corner. If you’re planning a family trip to Hobart, this guide is the perfect place to start.

Port Arthur

Museum of Old and New Art (Mona)

The Mona Museum is one of the most popular places to visit in Hobart with kids. The museum was established by a local art collector and professional gambler David Walsh in 2011. With 1,900 quirky artworks and counting, it is the largest privately owned museum in Australia and the most controversial one. 

Mona is the perfect opportunity for kids to realize that art is more than just classical painting and sculpture. The youngest family members will be delighted to discover Wim Delvoye’s “poo machine” Cloaca Professional and jump on the outdoor musical trampoline Danser La Musique. There are no signs explaining the exhibits—you’ll learn all you need to know from the location-tracking app The O. To help you navigate the museum with kids, children-friendly artworks are labelled “O Minor.”

The best way to reach the museum when travelling with kids is catch the high-speed Mona Roma ferry that departs from the Brooke Street Pier. Expect the 25-minute ride to be full of fun surprises including graffiti art, full-size sacred white cow, and sheep-formed seats. Keep in mind, however, that the ferry is not pram accessible.

Experience the bizarre at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) | Photo: Liz Knox

kunanyi / Mt Wellington

Grab your hiking boots, pack the snacks, and get ready for a day full of adventures in the Tasmanian wilderness. Located in the heart of Wellington National Park, kunanyi/ Mt Wellington, or simply “the mountain” as locals call it, is the perfect opportunity to connect with nature on your family trip to Hobart. The extensive network of walking paths has many easy trails manageable for little legs, but also plenty of intermediate hikes that will keep your teens happy. 

The Organ Pipes Walk is a trail that the entire family will enjoy. It ascends to the famous Organ Pipes, a series of dolerite cliffs from the Jurassic era, to then descend the mountain along a path filled with boulder fields and heritage huts. Keep an eye out for possums, wallabies, wombats, and pademelons—almost all native Tasmania’s mammal species can be found here. 

The mountain’s 1,271 m (4,169 ft) peak offers panoramic views of the region. And if hiking is too challenging for the youngest ones, you can also reach the summit by the sealed Pinnacle Road from Hobart centre. Just be sure to bring your sweaters as the mountain can suddenly get windy, wet, and cold. Note that the park is closed in extreme weather.

Salamanca Waterfront

The picturesque Salamanca waterfront, stretching from Salamanca Place all the way to Hunter Street, is the historic and cultural heart of Hobart. This lovely area, packed with Georgian sandstone warehouses once used to store whale oil and grain, still retains all of its old-world charm. You can easily spend a few hours exploring trendy shops, cafés, and restaurants, while the kids will be delighted to watch fishing vessels, yachts, and other boats set their sails into the open sea.

If you’re here on a Saturday, stop by the vibrant Salamanca Market at Salamanca Place where hundreds of sellers offer everything from homemade preserves, cakes, and drinks to bric-a-brac, arts and crafts in what counts as one of Australia’s largest outdoor markets. With an eclectic mix of hot foods from all four corners of the world—here you’ll find both French crepes, Middle Eastern kabobs, and Indian samosas—this is the perfect place to expand your little ones’ palates. 

Mt Wellington with kids

Battery Point

Get a feel of how people lived long ago just steps away from the hustle of Salamanca Waterfront. Battery Point is one of the prettiest and well-preserved historical areas in Hobart.  With its quaint streets lined with sandstone cottages, cozy restaurants, and antique shops, it still retains much of the old Cornish fishing village character.

The cannons that remain from the time when this area used to be a military outpost will be exciting for kids. The battery of guns, known as Mulgrave Battery, was established here by British colonial authorities in 1818 to protect the city from enemy warships. However, the guns never repelled an invasion, they were only used to fire salutes on ceremonial occasions. 

Children will also appreciate Princes Park with a fun nautical-themed playground. This is where the Prince of Wales Battery once stood as part of Hobart's defences. Don’t leave without visiting the Hobart Signal Station, the oldest remaining building in this area. It served as a guardhouse for soldiers of the Mulgrave Battery and later a signal station relaying messages from Port Arthur.

Port Arthur Historic Site

A family trip to Hobart wouldn’t be complete without visiting Port Arthur, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site and one of Tasmania’s most visited destinations. Port Arthur was founded as a small timber-cutting station in 1830, but after only a couple of years, it was turned into a penal settlement for the convicts sent from Britain. The prison, guarded by watchmen and ferocious dogs and surrounded by shark-infested waters, was considered one of the harshest of such facilities on the planet. 

A visit to Port Arthur is a history lesson that no classroom can replicate. Upon arrival, each family member will get a card telling about one of the convicts who was incarcerated here. You’ll learn more about the convict’s life as you wander around the old prison cells and explore the ruins of the penitentiary, the asylum, the parsonage house, and other historical buildings. Don't miss the 40-minute guided walking tour and the Carnarvon Bay harbour cruise (both are included in the entrance fee) where you’ll hear about the prisoners’ escape attempts and other captivating stories. 

Kids love the lantern-lit Evening Ghost Tour!

Ghost Tour

Richmond Village

The historic Richmond Village, once Tasmania’s third-largest town, was initially established as a military staging post and convict station linking Hobart with Port Arthur. This is the perfect place to immerse the kids in history. The village is famous for its heritage Georgian buildings dating back to the early 1820s. Must-see historical landmarks include the oldest fully intact convict gaol in Australia and the country’s oldest surviving large stone arch bridge, both built in1825. 

When it’s time for a break from all the history, head to the Pooseum, a science museum dedicated to all things poo. Here the kids can have fun learning about the digestive systems of Australian animals, compare their 3D anatomy models, and check out dinosaur droppings. Endless interactive displays, the kids’ corner, Poo Tube videos, and a farting machine will provide hours of family fun. 

For a treat pop into Sweets and Treats, a charming lolly shop with an old-timey touch. From old-fashioned Tasmanian favourites like Esmeraldas and butterballs to imported English liquorice and treacle toffee, there's something to appeal to every sweet tooth.

Richmond Village

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, or TMAG as locals know it, is the ideal place to get kids interested in art. The second oldest museum in Australia after Sydney’s Australian Museum, it showcases the best of Tasmania’s natural and cultural heritage.

The museum hosts a variety of hands-on exhibitions and children’s activities and is a great spot for the entire family to learn and have fun. From a global Indigenous collection consisting of more than 12,000 objects and artworks to exhibitions dedicated to the geological history of the island and the largest collection of Tasmanian fauna in the world, there's plenty here to mesmerize everyone. 

The mapiya lumi | around here gallery for kids aged 0-7 years is designed to encourage children’s interest in art and inspire their creativity. Don’t miss out on the toolkits that preschoolers get at the entry desk to help them explore the museum. They come complete with binoculars, a measuring tape, a kaleidoscope, Australian animal finger puppets, and a magnifying glass, that will guarantee hours of fun. Discovery backpacks are available for older kids. 

Tahune Forest Adventures

For a unique day out when visiting Hobart with kids, look no further than Tahune Forest Adventures, a one and a half hours scenic drive from the city centre. The famous Tahune Airwalk, a 619 m (2,030 ft) long walkway that reaches up to 50 m (164 ft) above the forest floor, offers spectacular views of the junction of Huon and Picton Rivers and the peaks of the local mountain ranges. The hour-long walk requires a moderate level of fitness, so it’s best suited for older kids. 

But the airwalk isn’t the only attraction here. Expect plenty of fun activities like a kid-friendly zip-line, swinging bridges, paddling, and kayaking. Thrill-seeking families shouldn’t miss the hang gliding adventure and rafting through bouncy rapids of the Picton River. 

Before you leave, take a relaxing stroll along the riverbank and let your little adventurers admire the rare Huon Pines. These ancient trees can be found only in the rainforests of South West Tasmania and are some of the oldest living organisms in the world.

Salmon Ponds

Salmon Ponds, Tasmania’s historic trout hatchery, is nestled among the rolling hills of Derwent Valley about 45 minutes drive from Hobart. Opened in 1861, this is the oldest hatchery in the Southern Hemisphere. As the name hints, the first ponds were designed for farming salmon. But when Atlantic salmon failed to thrive in Tasmanian waters, they were replaced by brown trout. Today, the facility still provides trout stock for the island’s lakes and rivers.

Kids will love running around and checking out ponds brimming with brown trout, albino rainbow, trout, tiger trout and, of course, salmon. But the highlight of the trip is no doubt feeding the fish. Here, the entire family can also learn about all stages of fish breeding, from fingerlings to full-grown fish.

The Museum of Trout Fishing, set in the original cottage of the first superintendent of the Salmon Ponds, houses a fascinating collection of fishing reels, rods, lures, flies, and other accessories. This is an excellent place to spend a few hours learning how fishing gear has changed over the years.

Tasmanian Devil Unzoo Sanctuary

Tasmanian Devil Unzoo Sanctuary is the world's first cageless zoo, dedicated to saving endangered Tasmanian devils. Originally run as a conventional zoo that featured orphaned Tasmanian devil pups, it has been owned and operated by the same family since 1979. 

Besides Tassie devils, as the iconic Apple Isle’s creatures are known locally, here you’ll encounter many other native species. Quolls, pademelons, and kangaroos all roam freely in an environment that closely mimics the natural habitats. The only animals that remain enclosed are the Tasmanian devils themselves—understandable considering that they boast the greatest biting force among mammals. 

One of the best ways to see Tasmanian devils is by joining the Devil Tracker Adventure. On this guided 4WD tour through the forest, your family will learn everything about how Tasmanian devils are being tracked and monitored, while you help the rangers examine the animals’ previous night’s activity using high-tech infra-red cameras.

Set some time aside to explore the Tasmanian Native Botanic Garden. Its 2 km (1.3 mi) long trail is filled with rare endemic plants that can’t be found anywhere else on earth. Before you start, be sure to pick up the bird and plant checklists from the reception and the Let’s do the Unzoo adventure guide for the youngest visitors.

Tasmanian Devil at the Unzoo

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

Botanical gardens are magical places for children and Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens are no exception. Set on 34 scenic acres in the heart of Hobart, the gardens are designed to be both educational and fun, letting children learn about plants as they marvel at rare blooms and exotic trees. 

The gardens are home to several stunning indoor and outdoor plant collections, including a vegetable patch that will open up a whole new world of the kids’ appreciation of where their food comes from. There’s also a zen style Japanese garden, a cactus house, and the only Subantarctic plant house in Australia. The impressive conservatory houses over 10,000 plants grown for seasonal floral displays. But the highlight is no doubt the pond with many different sorts of water lilies that have been thriving in this very spot for more than 100 years.

When it’s time to take a break, head to the Succulent Restaurant to try family favourites made from vegetables and herbs from the on-site garden, house-made cakes, and ice cream.

Ready to Start Planning Your Trip to Hobart?

We hope you’ve found this article helpful in planning your Hobart adventure with kids. Still unsure what to visit? First Light Travel offers a range of ready-made Tasmania Family Self Drive Tours to help you plan an unforgettable trip to Tasmania’s capital. If you prefer creating your own self-drive itinerary, our travel specialists will be happy to provide more ideas on the best places to visit in Hobart and beyond

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Irma Vuckovic
By
Irma Vuckovic
: 18 Jan 2022 (Last updated: 9 Feb 2022)

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