Play on the Cradle Coast During School Holidays
Whether you’re a local or visiting the North-West there is plenty on offer to keep your children amused during the school holidays. From day trips to indoor activities if the weather’s wet, with these suggestions the whole family will be sure to have fun.
If the weather’s nice, head first to the Mersey Bluff, where the kids can check out the lighthouse, play on the beach or try out the skate park. Next it’s off to the nearby Bass Strait Maritime Museum for a winning combination of education and fun. The children can learn about the Strait’s natural history, European exploration, shipwrecks, settlement and trade before taking the helm to captain a 1910s steamer into the Mersey River or through the heads of Port Phillip Bay. Open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. Visit Bass Strait Visitor Centre for more information
Your next stop is Don River Railway in Forth Road, only 10km from central Devonport. Here you can see a display of steam and diesel engines from various eras in Tasmanian rail history. There’s an extensive workshop and a museum with historical railway artifacts and photos, including a coin-operated model train that children will love. The feature attraction is a half-hour return ride on a vintage train to Coles Beach and back. Tours operate every hour from 10am to 4pm daily. Visit Don River Railway.
For a fun challenge head to Mini Golf Devonport, only a 4 minute drive from the city centre. Situated on the banks of the Mersey River, the 18-hole course is surrounded by native gardens and water features. The complex also houses the licensed Waterfront Cafe. Open Monday-Friday 9am–4pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am–5pm. Visit Waterfront Complex.
A great indoor activity option is a visit to the Big Big House – the biggest indoor play centre on the North-West Coast with indoor play ground, laser combat, rock-climbing, arcade and cafe. Open Tuesday-Thursday 10am-6pm (school holidays – Monday to Thursday), Friday and Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 1pm-6pm, last entry one hour before closure. For more information visit the Big Big House website.
When you can drag the kids away, enter 500 Staverton Road, Promised Land into the GPS and prepare to be amazed. Two attractions in one, Tasmazia and the Village of Lower Crackpot is a winner with families. You could spend hours wandering the mazes, inspecting the miniature houses and uncovering quirky novelties around each new corner. After working up an appetite, head to Tasmazia’s wonderful pancake cafe. Open seven days 10am-4pm. Visit Tasmazia.
From Promised Land, drive the short distance to Sheffield, the Town of Murals. If you want to impress the children, take them to World of Marbles at 34 Main Street. The World of Marbles shop, gallery and demonstrations will also appeal to adults; but the kids will go wild over the marble runs. Open seven days, 9am-4pm. Visit World of Marbles.
Return to your car once again and drive to Latrobe. If you need a sweet snack stop in at the Cherry Shed and House of Anvers chocolate factory, before exploring the treasure trove that is Reliquaire. Then why not challenge the whole family to see who the champion go-carter is at Kart Magic, 10 Speedway Drive. Suitable for all ages and driving abilities, it’s the perfect way to complete a big day of action.
For an active start to your day call in to Pedal Buggies Tasmania near the waterslide on the beachfront. They have a variety of pedal buggies available for hire whether it be a single buggy, a double, a family buggy or even a buggy for up to 16 people! Experience this fun family activity as you pedal along the shared pathways of Ulverstone’s extensive parklands adjacent to the main beach. Visit Pedal Buggies Tasmania.
If all that pedalling has tired the family out, take it down a notch by getting up close to a critter. Little Penguins are everyone’s favourite. The coastal town of Penguin and the surrounding district is a good place to start looking. And you’re going to see a really big penguin if all else fails! If you want a guaranteed encounter, visit Wings Wildlife Park, 30km away at Gunns Plains. For more details see Wings Wildlife Park.
While you’re in Gunns Plains discover what is hidden beneath the picturesque farmland – a fascinating world of caves, sinkholes and underground streams. Gunns Plains Caves is renowned for its magnificent formations, including calcite shawls and flowstones, as well as its glow-worm display. Visit Gunns Plains Caves.
If your kids are keen to stretch their legs head to Leven Canyon where you can take an easy walk through the bush to the lookout and gaze out over the Leven River weaving its way through the valley way below. Option number two is for the energetic: choose one of the myriad of bush-walking options. Some of them are quite the challenge and involve a lot of steps. And be sure to visit Preston Falls too.
For a relaxed activity join a Discover The Leven River Cruise in Ulverstone and you’ll travel in comfort from the river mouth to Leven Park Reserve for lunch upstream. You’ll see Tasmanian wildlife including wallabies, fish and birds. During an on-shore break, guests will enjoy an informative bush-walk through soaring eucalyptus, 500-year-old man ferns and beautiful tall blackwoods. Visit Leven River Cruises.
Burnie, Wynyard region
If the weather is nice there are some lovely outdoor spots for the kids to play and explore in Burnie, including the beautiful park not far from the city centre as well as the waterfront area. This is also a great place to grab some tasty fish and chips for lunch then head along the board walk to the Makers’ Workshop where you can take in the displays, see makers at work and take part in a paper-making tour. If you’re there later in the day you can head to the Little Penguin Observation Centre and see the small creatures come up the beach to their nests.
Just outside of Burnie in Ridgley you will find Guide Falls, a beautiful spot for a picnic and a short walk to the stunning waterfall. Nearby you can also check out Guide Falls Farm for a fun animal encounter. Feed the emu, pigs, rabbits, sheep, peacocks, deer and alpaca (just to name a few). Open during the July school holidays 10am-4pm, August weekends 10am-4pm, September to April Thursday-Monday 10am-4pm. Visit Guide Falls for more information
For a great indoor activity you can’t miss the fascinating Burnie Regional Museum. Kids can take a step back in time and walk down a street as it would have appeared in Federation times, more than 110 years ago. Discover the lifestyles and aspirations of our forebears through rooms that are alive with personal treasures, memorabilia and tools of the trade. Open 10am-4.30pm weekdays and 1.30pm-4pm weekends. For more details visit Burnie Regional Museum.
Another indoor option in Burnie is In the Zone, where the whole family can have some adrenaline-pumping fun with laser tag. Open Wednesday-Friday 3pm-9pm, during school holidays 10am-9pm, Saturday 10am-9pm, Sunday 1pm-5pm. Visit In the Zone Tasmania.
Next head over the Wynyard where there are some lovely coastal and river walks. Make sure you check out the Wonders of Wynyard with its veteran car collection, art gallery and local history displays. It’s also a visitor information centre and you can hire bikes. Open May-July 10am-4pm seven days a week; August-September: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday-Sunday 10am-4pm; October-April 9am-5pm seven days a week. Visit Wonders of Wynyard.
You can’t visit Wynyard without venturing 5km out of town up to Table Cape for breathtaking views over Bass Strait and beautiful rich farmlands. This ‘volcanic plug’ was formed 13.3 million years ago and is home to Table Cape Lighthouse, built in 1888, and the famous tulip farm.
West Coast region
As you head to the West Coast, there are plenty of well-known stops you could take along the way, including the famous Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, the quaint fishing village of Stanley and the stunning Tarkine region.
One must-visit spot is Tarkine Forest Adventure at Dismal Swamp. There is a beautiful visitor centre and then a walk, or the exhilarating 110 metre long slide into the Dismal Swamp, believed to be the only natural blackwood forest sinkhole in the world. Don’t be fooled by its name, it’s a lovely place to explore thanks to boardwalks with regular informational boards explaining more of the surrounds and facts about the area. The slide is only for 8 year olds and over, but the site in general is great for children.
As you head into the West Coast make sure to check out Zeehan’s West Coast Heritage Centre. Wonderful for kids of all ages there are old locomotives they can climb over, educational movies and stimulation and its right across the road from the local park.
For a more in-depth train experience you can’t miss a ride on the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Choose from full or half day trips departing from Queenstown or Strahan. They even offer Christmas in July trips that transforms their Rack and Gorge and River and Rainforest tours into a winter Christmas celebration. So rug up and board your steam train to enjoy cosy carriages, mulled wine, mince pies, and gifts for the children. Visit West Coast Wilderness Railway for more details.
As you make your way into Strahan be sure to check out Henty Dunes, one of the biggest dune deposits in the southern hemisphere, with dunes up to 30 metres high. A fantastic spot for sand boarding or tobogganing, walking or touring on ATVs. Sand boards and toboggans can be hired from a number of Strahan accommodation venues. Be aware there are no toilets, water or barbecue facilities on site.
Then after a day exploring the beautiful Macquarie Harbour and Gordon River on a cruise, be sure to see The Ship That Never Was, a theatrical, all-family engaging play about the last ship built at the convict settlement on Sarah Island. Running for 1.5 hours, the show tells the hilarious and true story of an amazing escape and an extraordinary voyage. Australia’s longest running play is on at 5.30pm each night at the Richard Davey Amphitheater in Strahan. Visit Round Earth.