The call of the Australian wild is powerful. And Tasmania’s abundance of wombats and wallabies is the greatest in the world. There is something momentous about spotting creatures in their natural habitat, for children and even more so. Add to this, exquisite local produce, great hospitality and modern comforts, and you have the perfect holiday destination.
Our adventure South had been delayed numerous times due to Covid and finally we were granted a leave pass. Mum and two kids aged 9 and 6, RATted and ready to roll.
First stop Hobart
Accommodation – Movenpick.
The newly built Movenpick – Hobart comes highly recommended when travelling with kids. You may be familiar with the Movenpick brand because of their world renowned icecream. Horizontally expanding into hospitality and hotels is a natural extension of their business model and you’ll find the same commitment to quality and stellar service. Movenpick have a 100 hotels and resorts around the world with another 50 rolling out by 2025. One of these will be the 96 room Spring Hill, Brisbane Movenpick, an art-deco 15 storey hotel, opening just in time for the Olympics. Movenpick has mastered blending old Swiss heritage with new unrivalled culinary and hospitality experiences.
First impressions are gold standard. The tone is set by the staff. International style with bespoke local influence. Uniforms are crisp clean white shirts, fancy tailored jackets and suits, and 100% Tasmanian smiles with broad Tasmanian accents (yes, there is such a thing). Reception is managed by Curtis, Mark and Bridget who swiftly organise for luggage to be brought to the rooms and the car to be parked. Please note you can bring your car to the front of the hotel for valet parking ($30 per night) even though the signs say otherwise.
The hotel rooms are outstanding. Ours had sweeping views of the Derwent River and bridge and a gorgeous painting of the bridge itself. The kids loved spying on all the surrounding action with a bird’s eye view. Sunrise was a magnificent treat and I made everyone get up early to witness this once in a lifetime opportunity. The beds were large and comfy, consistent with Accor’s signature style, and are maximised for the best possible sleep. If you are not already familiar with Accor’s pillow menu, you are able to choose from several pillows based on hardness and materials. Choose from varieties such as the Accor standard pillow and the ‘pillow of your dreams’. The room is fitted out in boutique Skandi style (as expected with an original Swiss brand). It also features modern contemporary timber chairs, black out curtains, beautiful lighting (with easy-to-use bedside switches) and double shower heads in the bathroom.
Other sought after features of the room include remote control blinds, efficient cupboard and storage system and Ottoman style settees at the end of each bed that are perfect for reading and pausing to take in the views.
The room also features complimentary Hartz water (local Tasmanian mineral water), Google Chrome cast, Biologie amenities and great sound proofing.
While there are lots of amazing restaurants in Hobart, we opted for the convenience of dining downstairs at Tesoro Italian Restaurant. We enjoyed a tasty margherita, kids spaghetti and local scallops all cooked to perfection, and served with heartfelt hospitality. The ceramics used to serve the food gave a real farm to fork authenticity (a common characteristic found in Tasmanian restaurants and cafes).
I’d noticed the neighbouring tables having long intense conversations with their waiters about locally distilled gin, the state of the Tasmanian post-Covid economy and the number of grandchildren who lived on the mainland. It was clear that locals and in-house guests loved coming to this restaurant because the staff were so welcoming and genuine. When I enquired further about the staff, I was told most had been there prior to the Pandemic and had weathered the downturn, during which, many guests and patrons had become friends. I even saw one couple offer for their waiter to take a seat at their table! Something I have never seen before….
Our room rate included breakfast which was served in the inhouse restaurant. The restaurant was opened during the height of the Pandemic and the original design with the breakfast bar beautifully designed for buffets and corporate guests is yet to realise its full potential. The décor is earthy and homely though still had the shininess of being brand new.
For breakfast the kids had the signature special, hot cakes with Movenpick ice cream while I had the house muesli. For some reason, my daughter decided to create an actual “cake” out of her hot cakes and make the most of the fresh strawberries.
After breakfast the kids were offered ice-cream and, of course, they couldn’t resist. Big dollops of creaminess were scooped into cones and quickly devoured. Its free icecream all day for kids under 12 at all Movenpick hotels. This is a huge drawcard when dealing with delayed or long flights. Bribery can go a long way when settling children and icecream is always a winner.
The staff at Movenpick make it a Hobart must. This is a worthy first stop for entry into the wild, rugged adventures that awaits us throughout the rest of Tasmania.
What to do:
MONA, lives up to its reputation. It has fascinating architecture, incredible art and is well-curated to appease both adults and children. Some installations were lost on my kids but the favourite was the word waterfall. The playground was also a huge hit.
Tip: Download the O app before going and check the queue wait times before arriving. Join queues for anything you want to see for a more efficient walkaround.
Botanical Gardens of Tasmania
These stunning gardens are well maintained and showcased so much of Tasmania’s unique foliage and fernery. There are incredible Huon Pines, a 200 year old tree who has a sign saying it needs a hug and a sub-arctic pavilion that is literally the tip of the iceberg.
This is one of those places that is in every tourist guide. It is a remarkable market with many of the traders having been there week after week for years. It is always refreshing to see locals buying from local traders (not just tourists). It means it’s not just a tourist trap.
With a mix of old, new, crazy and conventional, there is something for everyone. There is plenty of parking on site ($2-$3) which is cheap compared with Sydney or Melbourne. It is guaranteed the only place in the world you will see a Tesla and a Ford Telsar parked next to each other. This gives you an idea of the demographic at the markets!
Stop and try Tasmania potato chips on a stick ($6).
Stop 2 Bruny Island
Free Spirit Pods Eco Accommodation
We caught the ferry over to Bruny Island (as recommended by my travel writer and Tasmanian resident Winsor Dobbin) and stayed at a place I had been dreaming about staying ever since I had read Winsor’s review some years ago. We were not disappointed. Greeted by wildlife our two days were filled with the kids finding on-shore mussels (and making fresh mussel soup), getting to know the resident wallabies and pademelons, and kayaking. This reclusive eco-friendly accommodation wants for nothing. Intimate, nature abiding and carefully curated, Free Spirit Pods was well worth the trek out to Bruny Island. We did visit a few of the “must do” provedores (oysters, honey, cheese and chocolate) but honestly “staying at home amongst the gum trees with a verandah out the front” was preferable to on-trend foodie escapades. We did enjoy the beauty of the neck but didn’t stress about touring the south of the island.
Stop 3 Brickendon Estate
An overnight pitstop on our way to Cradle Mountain. Brickendon Estate was an enlightening blast from the Convict past. Well preserved and well maintained, the fourth Generation family run estate has free farm and heritage tours.
Stop 4 Cradle Mountain
We stayed at the highly rated Cradle Mountain Highlanders. The high ratings come as no surprise once you settle in for the night in a cosy cottage. Well priced for the area and surrounded by all sorts of wildlife ranging from wombats to echidnas, Highlanders is one of those places you’ll know you will revisit time and time again. Built from local Tasmanian timber with electric blankets, wood fires, woodland views and friendly staff, Highlanders was a highlight.
Cradle Mountain can be accessed via the shuttle bus and is breathtaking. On a warm day it is worth taking your swimmers to have a paddle. The wildlife is incredible. Wombats, wallabies and echidnas abound, even during the day. The shuttle runs from 8am – 6pm but don’t miss the last bus because it is a long 14km back to civilisation. One of the few world heritage sites that tick 11 of 13 criterion boxes. Don’t miss the Enchanted walk that lives up to its name or the mobs of wildlife around Peppers while sipping a Tasmanian brew.
Accommodation Peppers Silo
An under-rated friendly town with a big heart. Hobart’s poor cousin, Launceston, boasts fine dining, museums and a natural gorge. Staying at the newly established Silo Peppers we were rewarded with a beautifully appointed room, 11 floors high, taking in the expansive views of the river.
Peppers Silo is an architectural wonder. Disused wheat silos have been repurposed into large, stately hotel rooms. The concrete contours sit neatly on the riverside and hark back to an era of vibrant agricultural trade up and down the river.
As a hotel, Silos Peppers has several unique selling points: an inhouse service dog named Archie that guests can walk and a restaurant that pays homage to locally produced goods with free parking. Archie, is perfectly on brand. A super friendly black ageing Labrador that is always smiling and ready to please. Guests form an attachment to the wonder dog, just read the reviews on the facebook page. Sadly we did not get a chance to walk him along the river, his appointment book was that full.
In Launceston, spend time at Cataract Gorge, explore the Queen Victoria Museum and hire scooters to go up and down the river.
Also on the river is the neighbouring council funded all ages park, complete with trampolines, climbing trapezes and pirate ships. The children’s park would be one of the best in the Southern Hemisphere. My kids were elated. Roaming around exploring and making friends. The vibe is childhood 80s relaxed. No helicopter parenting, no shoes and kids owning the joint. The park is perfectly situated next door to Peppers Silo.
How we travelled
We flew Jetstar return to Hobart and hired a car……Car hire prices in Tasmania have had extensive press coverage. Supply had been sold off during the Pandemic and once the borders were open, agencies were able to charge over $1000 per day (or so we heard). Our secret was to hire through www.budgettrucks.com.au. The hire is more reasonable at $140 per day and although it is a commercial vehicle it is a lot cheaper.
Our 10 days in Tasmania were perfect for re-charging the soul and re-connecting with nature. We were reminded how busy our lives were and how slowing down to appreciate fine food, service, hospitality makes travelling more meaningful. Our final wildlife count was 32 Wallabies, 2 echidnas, 33 Wombats, lots of kangaroos, 0 platypus despite lots of trying, pademelons, 4 brush tailed possums and too many to list. Mum lost in all categories but I’m already gearing up for next time.
Written by Sonia Komaravalli
The writer was a guest at Movenpick, Hobart. Thanks to Accor for their hospitality.