1. THREE CAPES TRACK, SOUTH-EAST
Hiking through pristine wilderness is one of Tasmania’s biggest drawcards, and a great opportunity for family bonding. One of the best treks is the four-day, three-night Three Capes Track, which begins and ends at Port Arthur. The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service track covers 48km of the state’s south-east, taking in eucalypt forests, coastal heaths and Australia’s highest sea cliffs. Overnight stays are in environmentally sensitive cabins equipped with shared dining facilities.
2. TASMAZIA AND THE VILLAGE OF LOWER CRACKPOT, NORTH-WEST
In the wonderfully named town of Promised Land, en route to Cradle Mountain in Tasmania’s north- west, this attraction is home to a colourful model village and eight mazes. Explore the town of Lower Crackpot, where each building has a Tasmanian story, or find the embassy of your forebears in Embassy Gardens, where more than 40 countries are represented. There’s also a lavender farm, a gift shop selling Tasmanian honey and souvenirs, and a café known for its delectable pancakes.
3. PENNY ROYAL ADVENTURES, LAUNCESTON
Go rock climbing, ziplining or experience the thrill of the cliff walk as you make your way across a dozen rope bridges at this action-packed adventure park. Located beside Cataract Gorge, Penny Royal Adventures aims to re-create 19th century Van Diemen’s Land, with a history-themed boat ride and activities such as gold panning and fossicking for gemstones. You can also jump aboard a barge to immerse yourself in the daring escapades of bushranger Matthew Brady on The Dark Ride, take a ghost tour, and fire cannons and steer the ship on the Brig Tamar Cruise.
4. VISIT PORT ARTHUR HISTORIC SITE, TASMAN PENINSULA
Explore the well-preserved penal colony buildings of the Port Arthur Historic Site, which was built in 1830 to house and punish more than a thousand of Tasmania’s most notorious convicts. Just a one-hour drive south-east of Hobart, the site is full of powerful stories of hardship and loss, with its dark history contrasting with the beauty of the area. You can find more early-Australian convict history at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Coal Mines Historic Site, 20km from Port Arthur, which reveals the lives of repeat offender convicts who worked underground extracting coal.
5. BRUNY ISLAND
Book a half-day boat cruise to explore the coast of Bruny Island, or jump on the vehicle ferry at Kettering, just over half an hour’s drive south of Hobart, to discover it at your own pace. The island is about 50km long but is more like two islands joined by a narrow strip of land called The Neck. It is known for its beautiful beaches and hiking, through places such as South Bruny National Park, as well as local produce including oysters, cheese and chocolate. Accommodation ranges from campsites to luxury retreats.
6. GRINDEWALD SWISS VILLAGE, TAMAR VALLEY RESORT
Who needs to go all the way to Switzerland? Tasmania has its very own Swiss-style village in the grounds of Tamar Valley Resort, which is set on a 60ha property. Take a paddleboat on Lake Serene, play mini golf, jump on the bouncing pillow and ride pedal karts before having lunch at the Alpenrose Lakeside Bistro & Bar, followed by an ice-cream from the Chocolate Café. There is also an electronic games arcade with skill testers, racing simulators and video arcade games.
7. DEVILS @ CRADLE WILDLIFE PARK, CRADLE MOUNTAIN
Meet three of Tasmania’s unique threatened marsupials — the Tasmanian devil, the Spotted-tailed Quoll and Eastern Quoll — at this wildlife sanctuary and conservation centre on the edge of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain National Park. Day keeper tours are conducted at 10.30am and 3pm and a day feeding tour at 1pm. After dark feeding tours are also held at 5.30pm and 8.30pm (during daylight savings).
8. WEST COAST WILDERNESS RAILWAY, STRAHAN
Toot toot! Hop aboard for a railway journey through the ancient rainforest as guides share stories of the hardships of the railway’s construction and the men, women and children who called the surrounding wilderness their home. The train stops at historic stations along the route, which offer activities such as a rainforest walk, gold panning, viewing the train being turned on a manual turntable, and tastings of wild honey.
9. TAHUNE ADVENTURES, GEEVESTON
Go kayaking or rafting on the Picton River, walk 30m above the rainforest floor on the Tahune Airwalk and float through the air on a hang glider over the Huon River at Tahune Adventures, a 90-minute drive from Hobart in Tasmania’s south. You can also walk across the Picton Swing Bridge to view the ruins of the house occupied by Police Constable Francis McPartlan, a former Irish convict whose duty it was to walk the trail to the remote Arthur Range to check timber licences.
10. MOUNTAIN BIKING IN ST HELENS, NORTH-EAST COAST
Ride the epic mountain biking trails in St Helens, considered some of the most scenic in the world. There is a series of stacked loops just south of the town, as well as a 42km wilderness trail that starts at the top of the Blue Tier and winds all the way down to Swimcart Beach in the beautiful Bay of Fires. Whether you like to shred some serious downhill, enjoy cross-country flow or just want a fun day on the trails with the family, the St Helens Mountain Bike Trails have something for everyone.
11. QUEEN VICTORIA MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY, LAUNCESTON
See dinosaur skeletons, colonial and bushranger artefacts and objects recovered from the wreck of Australia’s oldest merchant shipwreck, The Sydney Cove, at this museum in the heart of Launceston. Kids will also love the bikes, buggies and planes on display. During the school holidays a number of activities are offered, such as creating critters out of Pom Poms, making musical instruments and learning how to create felted nests and eggs.