Launceston with Kids
We have been lucky enough to call Launceston home for over 2 years and have had so much fun exploring and finding family-friendly things to do in Launceston with kids. From swimming spots in Summer to exploring museums on a rainy day, there is something for all seasons (and sometimes you can experience all seasons in one day in Tasmania so it’s best to be prepared!) Here are some of our favourite things to see and do.
This has to be first on the list of Launceston’s must-see spots. Located a short walk from the City Centre, the Gorge and First Basin feel a million miles from urban life. Magnificent scenery surrounds you as you enjoy one of the many kid-friendly activities based there. If you’re a bushwalking loving family you’ll be in your element here, with lots of walking options to suit all ages and levels. One of our favourites follows a track from the Alexandra Suspension Bridge (the kids are 100% sure to make the bridge wobble as they walk over this one – especially if you’re nervous of heights!) out to Duck Reach Power Station – the first ever hydroelectric power station in Australia.
For younger kids or those with prams a nice easy walk starts at Kings Bridge (you can park adjacent in the paid car park at Penny Royal – also a must visit destination see below) and follows a boardwalk into the First Basin tourist area.
The Gorge also boasts the world’s longest single span chairlift – a wonderful way to see the scenery from a different angle – you can take a return trip from either end or go one way and walk back along the tracks. There are 2 cafes in the Gorge – one at each end of the lift, as well as play areas for the kids. The main playground is in the First Basin side (hamster wheel a highlight for old and young alike!) but at the top of the chair lift you’ll find the Fairy Dell where there is a small play area where peacocks and their chicks often wander.
In Summer be sure to bring your togs – Cataract Gorge boasts a huge outdoor swimming pool to enjoy surrounded by huge green lawns for ball games. There are plenty of BBQs on site too if you want to BYO lunch.
Tamar River Cruise
Another way to see the Gorge is to jump on a boat and sail up it! There is nothing quite like majestically cruising up the Tamar River, underneath Kings Bridge into the magnificent Gorge, with dolerite cliffs towering over you on both sides under the shade of beautiful She Oaks. We favoured the 50 minute Cataract Gorge Adventure Cruise with our active little ones – but for older kids or those able to sit still for a bit longer they offer 2.5hour morning or afternoon Discovery Cruises or a longer 4 hour lunch cruise. For the more adventurous you can kayak up the Gorge with Launceston Kayak Tours (see below)
Kayak Launceston with Kids
One of our favourite local tours, the Launceston Kayak Tours team are brilliant – we loved the pedal powered kayaks which made it easy going for all ages (the boys could even have their own kayaks), and seeing Cataract Gorge from the water was so special after exploring the bush walks from above. We spent over 90 minutes on the water, fully guided, and wanted to do it again as soon as it finished!
Museums and Art Galleries
The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery has two locations, the Museum at Inveresk and the Art Gallery at Royal Park. Both are just a short walk from the city centre, with the Museum having more family-friendly things to see and do. At the Museum there is an interactive kids’ zone that spreads from inside to a large outdoor area, with scientific learning exhibits for children to get to grips with. There is a huge dinosaur exhibit that the boys love, and the outdoor historical exhibits are great to explore, visiting the history of industrial Launceston. There is also an area with a large train that you can sit on, and if your little ones love trains, don’t miss a ride on the historical 1940s tram located just around the corner from the museum at the Launceston Tramway Museum. If your kids (or big kids) love cars, don’t miss a visit to the Launceston Automobile Museum, where you can see classic Australian cars and motorbikes all year round.
Penny Royal Adventures
We’ve had a LOT of fun at Penny Royal over the time we’ve been in Launceston, including holding Renner’s 7th birthday party here. There are so many fun things to do, and the theme of the park is the convict history of Tasmania so learning about Launceston’s colonial history is also part of the attraction. The backdrop to the park is the cliffs of the Cataract Gorge, and the activities have been built into the natural landscape making it one of the most picturesque adrenalin activities around! The whole family can enjoy a cliff walk, zipline, quickdrop adventure and rock climbing, For those who prefer their feet firmly on the floor there is a historical boat cruise on the Brig Tamar, the Dark Ride barge experience following the footsteps of local bushranger Matthew Brady, a barefoot walk and a gemstone and gold mine where you can fossick (as you may know, we LOVE fossicking!) Entry to the park is free, there is a bar, restaurants and an ice creamery on site, and you pay as you go for the activities. You can find more info and make bookings here.
Launceston is bursting with great outdoor playgrounds – so if you catch some sunny days whilst visiting we recommend checking out our list of Launceston’s Best Playgrounds. There are lots of options – the biggest and newest is the giant Riverbend Park – with areas for all ages, picnic spots and BBQs, big grassy areas for ball games and basketball courts.
Launceston with Kids on Bikes!
Launceston is a very friendly city for bicycles, so if you’re travelling with wheels or hire some while visiting there are lots of fun options. Launceston boasts over 100km of off road bike trails making it very safe and kid-friendly, with many of the foreshore and park areas linked. We often ride from Tailrace Park through the central Royal Park past the skate park then following the foreshore around to Riverbend Park. Another favourite ride is from the Museum car park, along the bike track into Heritage Forest area where there is a brilliant jump track! You can find more info on Launceston bike trails here. For mountain bike fans the trails in Trevallyn are epic – lots of interconnecting tracks through beautiful scenery at all different ability levels. While you’re in Trevallyn you can also enjoy the jump track at Lions Park on Pitt Avenue. There are also great tracks not far from the city in the Kate Reed recreation area. You can find more info on mountain biking in Launceston here.
Bush Walking Launceston with Kids
There are SO many wonderful walks around the Launceston area we need to write a separate post to cover them all! There is a network of trails around the Trevallyn Nature Reserve that are lovely, also dog-friendly if you’re travelling with the fur baby and all different levels and lengths.
Notley Fern Gorge is a beautiful Eucalypt rainforest walk about 30minutes north of Launceston. The walk takes around 45 minutes and leads over creeks and past a famous bushranger’s hideaway tree.
Cataract Gorge (see above) is full of trails to explore, the walk over to Duck Reach Power Station is one of our favourites.
The Tamar Island Wetlands walk starts at the Wetlands Centre and is just a short 10 minute drive from Launceston. The boardwalk is stroller friendly and an easy walk over to the island, where you can spot heaps of birdlife. The centre can give you a map and a guide to the birds to spot, entry is gold coin donation at the start of the walk.
Sometimes the weather can do some wild things in Launceston – with kids this can be a bit challenging! But luckily there are plenty of indoor activities to entertain the whole family. Launceston Entertainment Complex – known as the LEX – has Airtime 360 the trampoline park, Adventure Planet the indoor play centre and Laserforce the laser tag area. There is also an arcade game area and cafe. In good weather they inflate ‘the Kraken’ a massive inflatable obstacle course. The LEX is next door to a shopping centre with Kmart and Coles and some smaller retailers and food outlets too.
Kids Paradise is another indoor play centre – this one is probably suited to younger kids 10 and under – but has 2 floors and lots to do. Sometimes they have the Zippy bikes on offer – electric motorbikes the kids can ride around on.
Beta Park is a brilliant indoor bouldering park where kids and adults can tackle one of the six levels of walls.
It’s also a good idea to check out what’s happening at the PCYC Launceston and the YMCA – they often have great activities especially in the school holidays such as trampolining, archery, dodgeball and gymnastics, as well as arts and crafts workshops.
The Launceston Aquatic Centre is open all year round, in Summer the outdoor area and waterslide are open and on weekends and school holidays they have giant inflatables in the indoor pool. There is a kids’ indoor water play area with slide and bucket drop open all year too.
Launceston Lanes is open all year for ten-pin bowling fun.
Around Launceston with Kids
If you’re staying in Launceston with kids for a few extra days, a short drive will bring you to some more wonderful things to see and do.
Country Club Tasmania
For parents who love golf this is the place to stay in Launceston! Boasting a pristine and picturesque 18 hole course and driving range, the club also offers a fun family stay or day out. We love feeding the ducks and a walk around the lake (free duck food is available at the hotel reception), and there is a lovely bush walk from the hotel grounds too. Wildlife abounds, you will often see pademelons and wallabies bouncing around the resort, and the occasional deer! There are lots of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner on site too, as well as one of Tasmania’s two casinos if you can get a babysitter for the night!
About 45 minutes north of Launceston is the family-friendly town of Beaconsfield. An ex-mining town made famous on ANZAC day 2006 with the collapse of the mine and the subsequent dramatic rescue. The mine has now been transformed into an award-winning museum and a visit to the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre is a must-do. There is also a great skate park up the road so bring the scooters and skateboards, and a great playground with a flying fox.
Grindelwald Swiss Village
Home to the biggest jumping pillow we’ve ever seen, Grindelwald has loads of fun things for the kids to do as well as eateries and accommodation. Part of the Aspect Tamar Valley Resort, the village was built in 1989 by a loving husband for his wife who wanted to move to Switzerland. They were unable to leave due to work commitments so he built a Swiss style village in the north of Tasmania! You can play a crazy round of mini golf with lots of fun obstacles and features, hire a pedal boat on the lake and feed the ducks, or zip around in a pedal car.
Hollybank Wilderness Adventures
One of the first activities we did in Tasmania and still one of our favourites, Hollybank Wilderness Adventures is an adrenaline filled day up in the treetops. We did the zipline course and ropes course and can’t wait to go back and do it all again.
There are also lovely bush walks around the area in the Hollybank reserve.
Little Blue Penguins
Low Head is located less than an hours drive north of Launceston and is home to a unique species of little penguin only found in Australia and New Zealand. Also known as Fairy Penguins, these 30cm tall locals are the smallest penguins in the world. At Low Head Penguin Tours you can witness hundreds of them waddling up the beach to their nests, the sunset tour is run by knowledgeable guides at a beautiful beach side accessible lookout platform. The best time to see them is between November – February when up to 200 can arrive, but lower numbers can be seen between March and October, with the benefit of an earlier sunset for younger viewers.
Penguins can also be seen at the Lillico Beach Penguin viewing platform which is located about 6kms from Devonport, about an hour from Launceston and perfect if you’re arriving on the Spirit of Tasmania. During the Summer, volunteers are present with red light torches to guide and educate visitors, entry is free but donations are welcome.
About 45 mins north of Launceston is the seaside town of George Town. Australia’s oldest city after Hobart and Sydney, the coastal town has lots of history to discover.
Narawntapu National Park
We have done some stunning walks from Greens Beach into the National Park – with lots more to be discovered. If you are travelling with your furry friend some of the walks at Greens Beach before the National Park entry are dog-friendly too.
We hope this has given you some inspiration on things to do in and around Launceston with kids, you’ll definitely need more than a few days so in the true Tasmanian style, kick back and stay a while.