Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre is one of the most family friendly attractions we’ve visited in Australia.
It’s located in Beaconsfield in the Tamar Valley region of Tasmania, a town that gained international fame back in 2006, when on ANZAC day a mine collapse saw the dramatic 2 week rescue of two miners and the tragic loss of another. The mine itself closed down in 2012 due to a lack of economic viability (it was costing more to remove the gold from deep in the earth than it was worth per ounce), but now in its place is one of the best family tourist attractions we’ve visited in Australia yet.
There is still plenty of gold lying under the ground, but over the next 50 years the shaft will flood, meaning any future prospectors will need to start from scratch. The only gold discovery that is taking place now is the chance to pan for ‘museum gold’ during your visit – a favourite with all of us (if you’re a follower of our travels you’ll know that we love fossicking and even wrote a guide to family fossicking in Queensland) and the kids got some great souvenirs to bring home.
On arrival we were met by Alex – one of the lovely volunteers at the centre, who gave us maps, tips on what to see and do and special treasure hunts for the kids. Alex is also one of my personal heroes for saving the day as our boys were trying to grab everything from the gift shop on the way in – telling them earnestly that it was part of the museum and everything was on display only. She even kept her cool when Renner asked why there were price tags on all the items!
One of the best things about the centre is that there are over 50 interactive displays on offer – all clearly marked with a bright yellow hand so the kids knew what they were allowed to touch and play with and what was out of bounds.
We have never seen such exciting things to play with! The boys got to operate a giant water wheel, operate a model mine lift, crawl through a replica tunnel, work an apple grader and an apple corer, play a piano, write with a fountain pen and so much more.
Another favourite was the animal treasure hunt throughout our visit. On arrival the boys were each given a list of animals to find who were hiding around the centre – including a platypus, frogs, a wombat, owls and even a Tasmanian Tiger. We all loved the challenge and the boys got special prizes at the end for taking part too (even though there was one owl and one frog that eluded us!)
Play is definitely the emphasis for kids at the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre – and the great thing is that there are hands on things for the kids to do right next to the information areas – so me and Paul got to read about the interesting history and stories of the mine and area while the boys were happily occupied right next to us.
Arthur’s favourite thing was the giant water wheel – he got to press the button and watch the enormous machine start up and power the rock crusher (I’m sure that’s the technical term!). Renner loved panning for gold and both the boys could have spent all day sorting and selling the fruit at the apple grader.
Outside you can get up close to the some of the mine machinery – diggers, huge wheels and other vehicles – as well as getting to work in the garage. There is also a games area outside with a sandpit great for little kids, and a ‘shafts and ladders’ game to play with a giant dice.
The brochure for the centre recommends staying for 1.5 hours to see everything – but we’d recommend much longer with kids as there is so much to do and it’s great not rushing past things. We arrived late morning at around 11am and didn’t leave until after 4, taking a break after a few hours for a picnic lunch at the reserve over the road. There is a BBQ, picnic tables, historic buildings, beautiful gardens, a playground and a great flying fox so we also probably spent around an hour outside too.
Much of the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre is undercover or inside so it’s an all year round all weather experience. They open daily from 9.30am – 4.30pm every day except Christmas Day and Good Friday. Kids under 5 are free and adults currently cost $15 entry, with kids over 5 just $5. You can also get a family pass of 2 adults and up to 3 kids for $38 – making it a great value family day out.
On the way out of the centre the boys handed in their completed treasure hunts and got to pick a prize. Depsite Alex’s best efforts we still ended up buying a souvenir from the gift shop too!
Watch our video for all the highlights –
We were guests of the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre for the purpose of this review – but all thoughts and opinions are our own.