Don’t be Fooled by This Small City! Hobart is Jammed Packed with Attractions and Activities for the Whole Family.
The city of Hobart is located in the southernmost island state of Australia with tourism to this picturesque state booming in the last few years. Although considered to be a small city by size and population, its rise in prominence may be attributed to its natural beauty, culinary exploits and a healthy combination of contemporary and historic attractions. Here are some things to do in with kids in Hobart:
HOBART TIP #1
Aurora Australis. We would like to start this list off with a little lesser known idyllic escapade for the adventurous family. Did you know that just as there are the famous Northern Lights seen mostly from Scandinavian countries or Canada, there is an equal Southern Lights? According to Margaret Sonnemann, author of The Aurora Chaser’s Handbook, one of the best spots for seeing the Southern Lights is from Tasmania as the earth’s magnetic fields are closest to its surface at the North and South Poles.
Unlike their distant cousins however, it is harder to spot the lights and they don’t have seasonal pockets in the South. Lights can be seen throughout the year but the best time to catch them is around September during the Equinox. The 2 recommended spots to view them are South Arm Peninsula, 40 km south of Hobart or Dodges Ferry, about 40km east of Hobart. Check out the Aurora Australis Tasmania Facebook group to track the likelihood of being able to see this incredible light show.
HOBART TIP #2
Mawsons Hut Replica Museum. In 1911, South Australian Geologist Sir Douglas Mawson led a scientific expedition from Hobart to charter the Antarctic coastline, learn more about the ocean between Australia and Antarctica and examine Macquarie Island. During his expedition that spanned 3 years, Mawson built huts in Cape Denison from which to live and work from. On the 102nd anniversary of the departure, a replica hut was opened to commemorate his great feat.
The Mawson’s Hut Replica Museum is located on the waterfront, 50m from Constitution Dock. The museum, albeit small, is definitely worth taking the children. At reception you’re greeted by 2 large taxidermied huskies and an old skiff suspended on the ceiling. Read about their expedition and hardships as you enter into their living quarters and experience first-hand how they lived and survived.
HOBART TIP #3
MONA. Owned and created by businessman, gambler and art collector, Tasmanian local David Walsh built the Museum of Old and New Arts. Located on Moorilla Estate, MONA is a subterranean museum accessible via its spiral staircase. As you reach the cavernous labyrinth, you can’t help but be awed by its architecture. MONA is infamous for its dark and gory overtones and the friendly MONA staff are well equipped to show you areas on the map to avoid as they are definitely adults only exhibits. Not sure the kids would appreciate 151 sculptures of women’s vulvas, remains of a suicide bomber cast in chocolate or racks of rotting carcasses! There are however many other exhibits worth exploring such as:
- Snake: The Sidney Nolan masterpiece Snake which is made up for 1620 images and spans 5.6m tall and 44m wide. That would be the same size as an Olympic size swimming pool.
- Bit.fall: The bit.fall machine that control falling streams and drips of water to create words and images which are visible for only a second. The words are selected at random from internet news feeds to represent the incessant flood of information.
- Madonna Room: a white box with beanbags and multiple TVs showing all manner of wannabe singers singing along to Madonna songs.
- An outdoor trampoline: it is equipped with dangling bells underneath to create music whilst the kids have a jumping whale of a time. We couldn’t get enough of it!
The estate itself boasts many areas for family picnics with roaming chickens and peacocks whilst on Saturdays you can enjoy the markets with music, food and local Tasmanian products. You could also dine at The Source, their contemporary Australian restaurant, the Golden Hour where you’ll find communal dining as you enjoy the sunset on their rooftop or just head to their café for something quick and easy. In terms of getting to MONA, jump on ferry that takes you down the Derwent River. If you’re quick, grab a sheep to sit on for the trip!
HOBART TIP #4
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Bonorong is a famous family attraction in Hobart especially if you wish to meet animals that are extinct everywhere else except for this refuge. It is important to note that Bonorong is not a zoo as they aim to get healthy animals back to the wild but for animal loving kids, they would get to see wombats, Tasmanian devils, quolls, native birds, possums, koalas, lizards, snakes and emus. Here are some behind the scenes tours the kids will love:
- Animal Encounters: Kids can get up close and personal with a tawny frogmouth bird, brushtail possum, sugar glider or wombat for 10 minutes.
- Feeding Frenzy: Spend 2.5 hours feeding a whole bunch of friendly animals such as providing wombats their daily snacks, hook the Tassie devil onto its snack and start a game of tug of war or hand-feed the tawny frogmouth bird and watch them swallow their food whole.
- The Bonorong Night Tour: You can book a night tour with an experienced guide whereby you would be feeding the daylight dwellers their dinner and the nocturnal animals their breakfast.
HOBART TIP #5
Puddleduck Vineyard. Hobart is also well known for its wineries and perhaps the best one to visit would be the family friendly Puddleduck Vineyard. They have a Reverse BYO policy, which we think is just fabulous, whereby you bring the food and they provide the beverages! The vineyard also boasts a Green Zone for large groups and families and consists of a playground suitable for young children, a large grassed fenced off area for the kids to run around in and a BBQ. A win-win place for kids and adults alike!
HOBART TIP #6
Salamanca Markets. Of all the things to do in Hobart for families, a visit to the Salamanca Markets on Salamanca Place has to be on top of your list. The market is open every Saturday from 08.30am until 03.00pm so it is worth planning your trip to coincide with the market. The market boasts over 300 stalls showcasing fresh Tasmania produce, handmade crafts and gifts and some of the best food stalls in the country.
We suggest you graze throughout the day and try some of the delicious food on offer such as the quintessentially Tasmanian curried scallop pie and the myrtle salmon sausages. 5 hours later, we ate, we shopped and we conquered and what a beautiful day it was.
HOBART TIP #7
Richmond Village. Located in the Coal River Valley, Richmond is a picturesque town only 20 minutes drive from the city centre. Known for its well restored Georgian buildings, this little town has much to offer in terms of lovely boutiques, cafes and galleries. Richmond’s most photographed landmark is the Richmond Bridge which was built by the convicts in 1820s.
Some great things for the kids to look out for include Sweets & Treats for good old-fashioned lollies, the Puzzle People & Friends store for hand-made wooden jigsaw puzzles and the Riversdale Estate Peter Rabbit Garden where you’ll find the only Peter Rabbit garden in the southern hemisphere.
HOBART TIP #8
Tall Ship. There is no better way to enjoy Hobart’s Derwent River than sailing on a traditionally-rigged vessel. We recommend hopping on the SV Rhona as owner Charles & Julie take you on a journey including sailing under the Tasman Bridge whilst you have a go at testing the resounding echoes with a loud “koooo wee!” Julie is a wonderful tour guide as she imparts stories and interesting facts of significant sights along the way.
The tour includes a lovely lunch, if you’re lucky you may get a go at ringing the bell and even steering. The hot water bottle we received when the weather turned a little was a perfect little touch of hospitality to end the perfect day! For longer sails, you could explore a trip to Kettering, Bruny Island or Port Arthur. This is definitely one of my favourite family things to do in Hobart.
HOBART TIP #9
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG). The TMAG is an excellent family learning environment dedicated to encouraging children to make their own discoveries. Perfect for a rainy day, here are some highlights according to TMAG:
- Family Days: Once a month on a weekend, TMAG hosts a Family Day that focuses on 3-8 year-old children with structured activities and tailored experiences particularly designed to foster a joyful and creative investigation of the collection and other relevant themes.
- Young Collectors: A display of collectables that have included collections about dragons, sheep tags, bones and dominoes, even simply ‘green things’, amongst many others.
- Discovery Backpacks: A free, in-gallery loan resource designed to help families explore specific areas of the museum in a fun, engaging and hands-on way. The backpacks are filled with objects, props, activities and resources across a number of subject areas including History, Art, Antarctic and Southern Ocean and Natural Sciences. Each backpack journey can take up to one hour and they are suitable for children aged 7-12 and their families.
- Museum Toolkit: Suitable for children ages 4-7 years, you can pick up your own personal “toolkit” from the Visitor Information desk and this includes several ‘tools’ to assist kids in making their museum discoveries.
- The Art and Museum Carts: A gallery-based interpretive resources for use by visitors in either guided or unstructured sessions. It is a multisensory engagement with the wonder of objects. Both carts incorporate strong playful elements and create social learning environments for younger visitors.
HOBART TIP #10
Teddy Bear Store. Well, wasn’t this a gem of a find! The Teddy Bear Store truly is every little girl’s dream and there is no better feeling then simply not knowing where to start as there are literally hundreds of teddy bears lining the shelves, resting on the floor or piled in baskets. The shop also boasts a collector’s section for some of the finest and most collectable teddy bears in the world whilst they also stock some limited edition pieces from world-renowned artists and manufacturers. We didn’t walk away unscathed but beautiful Bunbury remains a favourite in our household.
HOBART TIP #11
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. This is a great place for the kids to have the ability to run around a little and enjoy the outdoors. The garden boasts extensive Tasmanian native collections, assembly of large trees and a significant number of specialised plants. Some highlights include a Conservatory with a sandstone fountain, the Anniversary Arch for the perfect photo opportunity and the lily pond that blooms in the summer in shades of white, apricot, pink, red and yellow.
HOBART TIP #12
Mt Wellington. If you would like a panoramic view of Hobart, head up to Mt Wellington along Pinnacle Road to the lookout. It is about a 45 minute drive and it’s important to pick a day with good weather or not too early or late in the day. A trek up to the lookout in a bid to catch the sunset was although a nice idea was a futile one. Tasmanian mountains are subjected to extreme and rapid weather changes and within a few kilometers of the peak, we could hardly see our hands in front of us. We were literally in the clouds! Check out their website for walking and biking trails as well.
HOBART TIP #13
Kayaking. Want to get out and about to satiate the active kids? Then kayaking may be the perfect family outing for you. Roaring 40s Kayaking offer a myriad of tours ranging from a 2.5 hour city paddle on Hobart’s waterfront to full day tours along the Tasman National Park coastline or the Beach, Cliffs and Caves paddle where you can catch a glimpse of beautiful Bruny Island. The waterfront paddle is suitable for beginners as well as children from 7 years on and with a hearty fish and chips delivery for lunch, we couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy the water.
HOBART TIP #14
Sydney to Hobart Race. If you happen to be in Hobart around the New Year period, head down to Constitution Dock to welcome the first yachts from the annual Sydney to Hobart race. You won’t know when the first ones will arrive but real sailing fans are happy to wait and the sight is tremendous as they all start to roll from their harrowing journey across the Bass Strait.
We hope we’ve managed to convince you pay this beautiful city a visit. Easily accessible via the Spirit of Tasmania (overnight trip on the ferry) or only a 1 hour flight from Melbourne, it truly is well worth the visit as you venture deeper into the Southern Hemisphere!
Disclaimer: The Family Globetrotter’s website contains affiliate links which help us to maintain this blog and assists us with our travels, at no extra cost to you. Family Globetrotters have also posted articles based on sponsored products and/or services, but all opinions are our own, truthful and unbiased.