Our passion for exploring the best things to do in Australia, began in our home state of NSW. The first places we explored together as a family, were all reasonably close to home, and they are still some of our favourite things to do today. We’ve been away for 6 months, but returning back to familiarity brings with it a sense of contentment, and belonging.
So, in the spirit of being back on familiar turf for a while, here’s our favourite things to do in NSW with kids.
1. Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo & Taronga Zoo Sydney
We lived in Dubbo for around 8 months as we prepared for our long term travels, and Taronga Western Plains Zoo became our second home. Full of open spaces where animals of all shapes and sizes roam, we’d often pass the time by driving around the zoo, taking in the precious and often funny antics of the animals. One of our favourites at Dubbo Zoo are the Meerkats who never fail to make us laugh.
When we’re visiting Sydney, we also love spending the day at Taronga Zoo Sydney. The Gorillas are our favourites, there, or perhaps the seals, who put on a wonderful and cheeky show. Be sure to allow yourself a full day to visit either of the zoo’s, take hats and sunscreen on hot days, because getting out close to the animals ensures you make the most of it during your stay.
2. Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an experience that our eldest son still talks about over a year later. It’s high on the list of must-do things for both the younger kids once they turn ten, and it was a brilliant Father/Son bonding activity.
The great thing about the bridge climb is that they have options for different tour lengths and different times of day, including evening climbs that allow you to see the sunset and glittering lights of the city. I can’t wait to take enjoy a mother/daughter moment when our gorgeous girl turns 10 so that we can share the experience together.
3. Camping at Copeton Dam
Copeton has to be one of our favourite camping destinations in NSW. We love the beach and the coast, but escaping to inland NSW offers a getaway of space, quiet and a sky full of nighttime beauty with stars that bound as far as the eye can see. We’ve written about our love of Copeton before, and nothing has changed. We’ll be visiting again this year without a doubt, as Matt has been camping there since he was a child.
There’s lots of wildlife, fishing and just a great chance to kick back and enjoy nature. While we’re bush camping kind of campers, if you’re more interested in caravan park style facilities, then those are available too.
4. A day at the Big Banana.
If you’re looking for a day full of fun options for the family, with activities that offer fun for all ages, then The Big Banana is the place to visit on the North Coast of NSW.
With ice skating, tobogganing, water slides during warmer weather, and lots of other things to see and do, a day out here offers an awesome experience.
This is a sponsored post but opinions are my own.
When I think back to late 2013, we knew we were heading off on our big lap of Australia, but we didn’t really have any idea where that journey would take us, or just where we’d aim for first. So it goes without saying that when we had the chance to head off with the kids on Spirit of Tasmania, along with the dog, and the caravan we figured why not!
Waaaayyyyyy back in February we blogged about our excitement of the journey over there, and how much we were looking forward to a month in Tassie, but it didn’t take long, perhaps maybe three days, for us to fall in love and extend our trip out to a whole three month experience.
There’s so much to catch up on! I’ll put my hand up now and admit that we were so busy getting out and exploring Tasmania with the kids, that blogging had to take a back seat. It wasn’t helpful that overcast days challenged our solar and the ability to charge the laptops, or that Tassie doesn’t always have the best mobile internet reception, but if you’ve been there, or if you’re planning to go, you’ll understand why, and you really won’t mind one bit, because the internet and phone mean so little when you get views like this!
Alas, here we are spending our final night in a free camp at Forth. It’s only about 15kms from the Spirit of Tasmania terminal in Devonport, so it was a super convenient camp for the night.
Our Return Journey on Spirit of Tasmania.
Something a little exciting was the fact that our depart date fell on Mother’s Day. So it started with me getting to open my swag of goodies that Matt and the kids had collected right under my nose without me realising! (It can get tricky to buy gifts when we’re all together every day), before we caught up with other travellers we’d met at another camp, who dropped in to say goodbye.
I was sad to be waving goodbye to our home state of three months, but between you and me, having someone else cook dinner for me, a bed that wasn’t in the van, and catching a movie with the kids on board Spirit of Tasmania was exciting me!
So, here we are, we couldn’t leave without a group photo right in front of Spirit of Tasmania, well, two actually because I didn’t have a tripod and nobody wanted to miss out on a photo 🙂
We checked our gas bottles into the holding area, and before long, it was time time to board, there’s always excitement as we head up the ramp….
Then it was time for Yoshi to go into his kennel. Bedding and blanket to keep him comfy and we waved our buddy goodbye so we could grab some dinner before the movie started! (The photo is a bit blurry, a lovely lady offered to take a family one for us), thanks to her we got all of us in 🙂
We had dinner at The Captain’s Table, which is a buffet style eatery, which the kid’s loved because they got to choose what they had to eat for dinner. A nice mix of roast, fish, butter chicken was a favourite, and the big winner of the night was the dessert and soft drink. Here’s to not having to cook on Mother’s Day and having a beautiful meal with the family!
We were pretty lucky that Muppets Most Wanted was playing for the 8pm viewing and we hadn’t seen that before, so the kids were really excited, had full bellies and we enjoyed kicking back and enjoying the Muppet antics together.
We also managed to track down the games room which will keep the kids occupied if they are into video games.
So now we’ve been to Tassie, would we recommend it?
I just can’t tell you how much you SHOULD GO TO TASMANIA!!!
Just book your spot on the Spirit of Tasmania and go folks! If you even remotely like nature, then Tassie will thrill you with things to see and places to explore. The people are friendly, and the entire State feels like one comfy country town where Mates help each other out and people care about their neighbour. It’s no surprise that lots of people visit on holidays and end up back there to live.
Go, Go, Go! If you have a caravan, take it with you. It’s really easy driving on, and straight off again, and Tassie is jam packed with free camp and low cost camping options. If you want to take the dog, then do that too! You’ll just need to make sure their vaccinations are up to date, most importantly they must have had their hydatid tape work tablets within 14 days of departure so keep your receipt and your worming box or get your vet to do it and fill out a vaccination card.
If Tassie greeted us with an amazing sunrise as we departed into Devonport on the way over, then Melbourne sure did a great job of giving us a beautiful welcome too….
Just do it, you’ll never regret it!
How long should you spend there? Definitely no less than 4 weeks if you can, and we think 3 months was a really nice amount of time, so immerse yourself and enjoy.
Stories or questions about Tasmania? We’d love to hear in the comments below 🙂
“Drop by before the cruise and I’ll make you a cuppa.”
An offer like that isn’t one to be missed, so we were greeted by Kaye at the Arthur River Reflections Cruise office half an hour before our departure. Once we got to chatting, I was so glad we’d taken the time to drop in, as it soon became obvious what an amazing couple Rob and Kaye are.
To say Rob is passionate would be a true disservice to him; he’s beyond passionate, having dedicated a large portion of his life to building his business in Arthur River, Tasmania. Rob’s cruise business wasn’t just a quick and easy thing to create, indeed, the accommodation section of the business came first, but that wasn’t easy either.
When Rob first set about creating a tourism venture in his community, there was not yet power to the southern side of the Arthur River, where his block of land was located. This didn’t stop him, and when council advised they couldn’t supply power until there was a commercial venture in place, he set about building that venture with generator power and hand tools. That business is now the Arthur River accommodation operated with pride by this lovely couple.
Rob’s tour boat also didn’t start its life as a tour boat. Nope, after carefully selecting a tri-hull fishing boat, designed for its stability he set about renovating it and transforming it into a multi-level tour boat, so he could provide an amazing river cruise experience to his passengers. It doesn’t stop there; Rob also built his own landing jetty, rainforest walk and undercover area to host lunch for his guests.
Rob’s character and passion help to make the cruise a very special experience when you realise dedication that the owner has put into creating it. Rob’s local knowledge is built through living many years in the area, and a true love for the wilderness and the wildlife of the Tarkine Region.
AR Reflections Family Friendly Tasmanian Cruise.
The magic of the Tarkine Region is already weaving its way into our souls as we board the M.V. Reflections. The tour boat sits on the quiet shore of the Arthur River with the ocean beating it’s rough waves to the right, a distinct contradiction to the peaceful river waters. The mouth of the river opens to the ocean at times, and when the rain comes, the waters come with it, dragging fallen and uprooted trees to their resting place on the beach shoreline.
“It gets a whole lot rougher than that, it’s a quiet day today” Rob tells us he steers the boat in the direction of the ocean, taking us for a closer look before turning the boat around and heading for our peaceful journey up the Arthur River. The kids are excited, and after a safety run down they are allowed to head to the top deck of the boat for the perfect view.
It’s quite amazing how much the scenery can change during a 15 kilometre cruise. The river’s edge is lined with beautiful trees and vegetation, although Rob’s local knowledge let’s us in on the secrets of the types of trees, bird life and little stories about tornadoes and other natural events that have occurred over the years.
As we meander along the Arthur River for the next 15 kilometres, the stillness and beauty leaves you with little choice but to relax, and settle into the soothing spirit of our gorgeous surrounds.
We travel to the fork of the Arthur and Frankland rivers, before returning to undertake Rob’s exclusive lunch and rain forest walk to Warra Falls. The entire jetty, undercover lunch area and walk were created with Rob’s own hard work, this man is something special for sure!
Lunch in the Tarkine
We disembark M.V. Reflections and are treated to a beautiful lunch. Wine, soft drink, a range of fruits, cheeses, sandwiches and beautiful home baked sweets. There’s a happy banter among our fellow passengers and we’re all swept away by the tranquility of our surrounds.
Special guests for lunch were several extremely cute Tasmanian Pademelons, Rob packs them their own special lunch so they don’t miss out when he visits.
Tarkine Rainforest Walk
The excitement and learning opportunities of the day don’t end there, after lunch and refreshments, it’s time for the rainforest walk which, again, is enhanced by Rob’s passion in sharing what he knows and loves of Tasmania.
We carry albums each filled with photos, information and numbers which align with numbers Rob has placed along the walk. This allows us to take part in a self-paced walk while learning and discovering the amazing Tasmanian Tarkine Region.
The return trip is just as beautifully relaxing and gives you an opportunity to grab some more amazing photos, especially when the wind is quiet, and the reflections provide double the beauty of the stunning Tarkine. You can definitely see why this is the Arthur River Reflections cruise!
AR Reflections Cruise Highlight
One of the greatest joys of this slow, peaceful, breathtaking journey on the waters of the Arthur River is the fun you’ll be a part of with the resident Sea Eagles who have made the region their home.
Rob gives them a treat of fish and in return they provide an amazing view as they swoop quickly into the water and carry away their treat. I love this photo, and if you look at the foot of the eagle, you’ll see it’s fishy reward held safely, waiting for us to continue our journey so it can eat in peace. The nests we saw were huge, and we even spotted a baby sitting up in the trees being watched over by it’s Dad!
So if you’re looking for things to do in Tasmania with kids, then Arthur River Cruises by AR Reflections offer the perfect chance for the kids to see some beautiful wildlife and discover the untouched wilderness that is Tasmania’s Tarkine. The entire experience lasts around 5-6 hours, so our advice would be to pack a drink and snacks for the boat, and for really young children take some toys or activities.
ANZAC Day services make me sad.
They bring tears to my eyes and I feel pain for all the families who have suffered heartache at the hands of war.
Regardless of my own sadness, we make a point of attending each year, as a family. We feel it’s important for our children to understand the history of our country and there’s no dodging that war has been a part of that history, and is still a part of life for many Australian families today.
We are staying near Tullah in the West of Tasmania at the moment, so we took the time to attend the ANZAC Day service in this small community today. It was their first ever ANZAC march, and they were so glad to have been awarded a grant to finally erect a cenotaph in memory of their fallen which will be in place for next year’s service, so it was a lovely experience to be part of.
To all the men and women who have served or are still serving for our country, thank you. To all those families who suffered loss, we are grateful for the freedoms afforded us by your loved ones.
Lest We Forget.
If it wasn’t the sunrise that first stole our hearts as we arrived in Tasmania, or the friendly people we met on our first busy day here, then it was Stanley. We arrived in the tiny coastal town almost swept away by an on-shore wind beating against the car and the van as we drove, that brought with it dark clouds and the threat of heavy rain. Yet, Stanley shone it’s beauty as if the sun were glowing golden.
As with any new place, we had no idea what to expect, and my expectations and positivity had slightly plummeted in the early afternoon. “It’s a crap road” she told us, explaining that the road between Ulverstone and Stanley was one of the worst in the state. “Great” my expectations of a scenic afternoon drive plummeted and I braced myself for a horrific drive along the horrible road we had to face, before saying a sad goodby to Yoshi. There’s always a sense of heaviness when we leave our canine mate at a boarding kennel for the night. He knows what’s coming and immediately tugs at his leash in the opposite direction of the kennel, causing an instant sense of guilt. That added to the warning we’d been given about our afternoon road trip left me a bit edgy.
But the edginess didn’t last long. It was soon replaced by the ooh and ahh of a spectacular coastal view
We’d had a giggle during the day about being “Mainlanders”, a title we’d fast realised we’d be branded with as visitors to the island state. Locals had shared a friendly jest about our expectations compared to those who lived in Tassie, and the way visitors saw things from a mainland perspective. The expectation of road quality turned out to be one of those differences. Compared to many roads we’ve explored in our Australian travels, the road to Stanley is an easy drive and in good condition, with views that are definitely competition for the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.
Stanley greeted us with its most popular landmark; “The Nut”.
The distinctive landmark is high on the must-see list when you’re visiting Tasmania. The Nut is a volcanic plug, originally discovered by explorers Bass and Flinders in 1798, who at the time, named it Circular Head. Today, it dares visitors to climb it from top to bottom before undertaking the 2 kilometre walk at the top, where you’ll be rewarded with far reaching views of the turquoise waters surrounding Stanley.
While The Nut is definitely a defining feature of this beautiful little town, a strong sense of history is present as you wander the streets. Both historical stories of the fishing industry that still supports the town today, and streets lined with beautifully maintained buildings and cottages that greet you while you undertake the historical walk through the town. For something special, add in a trip to the historic Highfield House.
As if the beauty and history of Stanley wasn’t enough, here, you’ll experience an amazing night-life, although perhaps not the kind you’re used to. Once the sun sets, the Stanley coastline comes to life with penguins coming back into shore. We waited in the cold on-shore winds for quite a while before being rewarded with the beautiful sight of these small waddling birds.
For another wonderful after dark experience, the wharf provides lots of fun for the kids to do some squidding. With the beautiful fresh seafood for sale in town, even if you don’t have much luck catching your own, you can still be assured of tasting some of the freshest Tasmanian seafood available here.
Stanley is a small town, and yet it has so much to offer those willing to explore it’s history, and natural wonders. Don’t miss this gorgeous little village on your trip to Tassie, you could spend a day or a month and I still don’t think Stanley would lost its charm.
When we saw that Gundagai was up ahead, on our travels between Sydney and Melbourne along the Hume Highway, it just wasn’t an option to drive past without a stop in at the “Dog on the Tuckerbox” statue. The statue is at Snake Gully, which is around 8 kilometres (or 5 miles of course) from the township of Gundagai.
The strange thing was, that I was the one who was excited, and in my excitement soon realised that the kids had absolutely no idea “what” the Dog on the Tuckerbox statue was, and why it was of any significance! Perhaps that was a parenting failure on my part, or a sign of the times, I’m not sure, but a quick google search quickly had me streaming song renditions on the car stereo for them to hear the musical brilliance crafted in honour of this true blue Aussie icon.
Jackson set to reading the dog on the tuckerbox poem, to help make some sense of what the fuss was about. I took a closer shot, hopefully you can read this old version of the poem from the photo.
The History of The Dog On The Tuckerbox
The dog on the tuckerbox was unveiled in 1932, as a tribute to Australia’s pioneers and an old poem originally penned under the name ‘Bowyang Yorke’. The poem was later modified and promoted by Jack Moses, seeking much popularity around the country. The story of the poem is based on the life of the bullocky drivers who would sometimes need to leave their bullocks when they got bogged in a creek in the area. They would then seek help, and you guessed it, leave their dog to guard their tuckerbox.
What Is Available At The Dog On The Tuckerbox Centre?
The centre has lovely open spaces to sit down and take in the area, if you have a dog, they are allowed on leash to stretch their legs too. There’s a cafe on site, we grabbed something to eat here, but the options were pretty limited and not really great choices for budget conscious families so had we known there was a bigger service centre just down the road, we probably would have gone there instead, although Matt really enjoyed his hamburger.
It’s definitely worth a stop in, you can throw a coin in and make a wish, I believe the funds go toward supporting the local hospital which is a great cause. The best thing is that you get to say you’ve made a visit to an Aussie Icon, and if you’re children are as clueless about this part of our history as mine were, then it’s a great time to educate them. I have such fond memories of singing the song as a child, so I’m still overjoyed at getting to see the memorial in real life.