It’s a little state with a great, big heart. As soon as our sneakers hit the airport tarmac, we find our Tasmanian zen. Like a long, slow exhalation, the pace of life in the south immediately relaxes us. Leaves crunch under foot, the air is crisp, and the skies are clear. Let the eating, meandering, outdoor escapade begin.
We’re back. Last time we visited, we bunkered down in Sandy Bay and ate our way around Battery Point, Salamanca, and cruised over to MONA (my favourite art museum of ALL) fancy-free. This time we are baby-wearing wanderers catching up with mates who’ve migrated south to Tasmania’s quaint capital.
We take on a new perspective of Hobart, literally. We load Miss 6 Months into the baby carrier and strap on our hiking boots and head to the hills. We head off from the Springs en route to Sphinx Rock, located on the eastern side of Mt Wellington / kunanyi. Granted, it’s just a few kilometres; but it’s an easy, level walk that travels through lush bush. The gorgeous views of the Organ Pipes, the peak, Hobart and Derwent River from the lookout (take care!) are a real treat.
The rest of our Hobart time is for food and friends: we marvel at the comeback of fake turf over brunch in the glorious sunshine at Room For A Pony, and nibble on burgers and sip at craft beer at Shambles. Ready to head south on a tiny road trip across the Apple Isle’s south east, we load up our rental SUV with food and wine essentials from The Salad Bowl (Hill St Grocer). A grocery store of dreams.
BASKING IN BRUNY
How can a tiny island be so big? Brimming with delicious food, quiet beaches, native forests and friendly locals, Bruny Island is a brilliant change of pace (or day trip!) without having to knock back a huge number of kilometres from Hobart. Even though it feels like two, the island is actually just one 50km-long-one as it’s connected in its middle by The Neck: an isthmus that is home to a penguin rookery at ground level and a 360 degree lookout at its peak.
We stay in Adventure Bay. It’s dazzling, yet sleepy. Huge, but intimate. Tropical in appearance, 4C in real feel (no joke).
A hike up Mt Mangana (1.5 hours return) is in stark contrast from the flora of the rest of the island: it’s a mossy, rainforest-like windy trail to the highest peak on the island. At 571m, you can glimpse a view towards the southernmost point of the island and beyond. That is if you take turns teetering on a large rock to peak over the tree line while the other parent holds the baby!
Eating is a vocation of Bruny. We scoff cheese toasties and sample local ales at Bruny Island Cheese And Beer (breastfeeding mamas: their delicious light beer is 1.1 standard drinks for 500ml!), Mr Little Travel Tales goes on and on about the delicious oysters at Get Shucked, and together we enjoy a long lunch of haloumi, Tassie salmon and pinot noir at Bruny Island Premium Wines while Miss 6 Months enjoys the novelty of a high chair. Dinner at Hotel Bruny is also unassuming but seriously yummo.
HANGING IN THE HUON
We round out the trip by heading to the Huon Valley by way of the D’entrecasteaux Channel. The car journey is punctuated by a stop for (unforgettable) cheese and coffee at Grandvewe, snaps at various lookout points along the coastal drive and a leisurely lunch in Cygnet. A vegetarian meal, outside but in the shade of The Red Velvet Lounge, is the perfect spot for our travel trio to take a break. We enjoy sparkling lime and raspberry drinks under blue skies while Miss 6 Months does rolling laps of the astro turf (see, it’s making a comeback).
Onto the Huon! The Valley, picturesque at its worst, stretches from the western side of Mt Wellington / kunanyi in the north to the bottom of Southwest National Park. We stick river-side and stay up on the hill at Franklin; a prime little possie for sunrise, sunset and all in between. We can pick apples or pears from our AirBNB garden, and sip local ciders from Frank’s.
I have a whole list of possible baby-friendly activities for us to enjoy; but time continues to be my enemy of travel. Instead of taking on a hike at Hartz Mountain National Park, we opt to get up and amongst the Huon Pine treetops at the tot-friendly Tahune Airwalk. Afraid of heights, I suck up my courage and we wander the sequence of footbridges high above the forest floor. I ignore my nervous knees and complete the cantilever: a lookout point 50m above the ground boasting an unobstructed view of where the Huon and Picton Rivers meet. In nearby Geeveston we fill our tummies with outstanding sushi from Tassie-famous Maasaki’s, and coffee and cake at the Old Bank of Geeveston. The latter was so good we returned for breakfast the next day.
A 45 minute drive south from Franklin is Hastings Caves. After an exceptionally impressive visit to a cave in Slovenia back in 2009, Mr Little Travel Tales has been keen to find another impressive ancient chamber to be wowed again. Hastings Caves didn’t disappoint: it’s a beautiful, ornately decorated cave of stalactites and stalacmites (and shout out to our State Reserve Guide, whom only enhanced the experience with her huge passion for the cave). Incredible for us to experience Tasmanian beauty below the surface; although, in full disclosure, Miss 6 Months didn’t rate it at all.
Even after two visits there’s a good half of the state we are yet to explore. I can’t wait to see what else this little island state has to show off. As we board our plane destined for the Australian mainland I know it won’t be long before we’ll be back.
TOT TRAVEL TIPS
- Mimic everyday activities on holiday. When at home, Miss 6 Months’ days are filled with play time, pram walks, and sometimes short (15-20 minute) car journeys. We learned that it’s important to try and emulate this whilst away too – it’s easier for the little one to keep in rhythm.
- Take a bit of home on the road. In a bid to keep Miss 6 Months feeling secure in her surroundings, we travelled with not only her playmat and a bunch of favourite toys, but also her car mirror and car toy. As we were travelling in a car more often than at home, we really feel this helped her settle adjust to the frequency in vehicle activities.
- Go slow. I thought we had planned a relaxed and slow itinerary; now I know that we could make it even slower and build in a few ‘no plan’ days in between. A day where Miss 6 Months can just eat-play-sleep and explore the new environment; plus it’s a bit of a breather for parents too!
- Yes, travelling with a tot is more work. DO IT ANYWAY.
- Time: 9 days
- Accommodation: Self-contained studio in Hobart and Franklin via AirBNB, and eco studio in Bruny Island
- Transport: Flights to Hobart and by rental car (including baby seat) to Bruny Island and the Huon Valley