Tasmania’s Top 10 Locations for camping and attractions in one
When you are travelling to a new location what are the things you really want to know the most? It is more often than not, where is a great place to stay that has an equally fabulous thing/s to do near by. We have put together our top 10 locations for both camping and sightseeing which will make for an incredible family camping adventure around Tasmania.
We often choose to find fabulous free and low cost camps to stay, not only because we enjoy finding somewhere different and often off the beaten track but by doing this it means we are able to free up the budget to spend more on some awesome paid experiences for the family. The list we have put together is by no means the only camps and experiences we fell absolutely in love with throughout our adventures of Tasmania, but rather the locations which doubled up as a must stay and a must see/do experience too.
Camping key; *FC= free camp *LC= low cost camp
Attractions key; *FA= free experience *AA= admission cost
1) Hall Point, Sulphur Creek (FC)
Hall Point is a short 3min drive from the coastal town of Penguin. The camp has sites across the rock beach front, with spots back from the beach too and in this case a picture tells a 1000 words! It’s only a short 1 minute walk to the sand beach for swimming and sand play. The Township of Penguin has a playground, IGA, Information Centre, variety of shops and cafes, a pub and a giant penguin statue. The Information Centre also has treasure hunt sheets for the kids to explore and see more around town.
This free camp is for fully self contained vehicles/vans only, has a 48hr stay limit with a strict no dog policy as it is home to a penguin colony.
Baby Penguins (FA)
Wow- what a privilege it is to see nature at its most intimate. During the pup rearing season Jan- April, if you come here at night or are comping here the mother penguins emerge from the surf and come up to the area and feed their young. You can hear the pups calling out and if your quiet and lucky enough you’ll play witness to the babies receiving their evening feed. Times vary from start to end of season. Rain, wind or moon shine- its a wonderful experience.
You can also visit the Burnie Penguin tours for a guided experience, only *30mins further west of Sulphur Creek.
PLEASE NOTE these considerations when viewing penguins.
-No white/ bright lights or flashes. Use only a red light to look at the penguins or a dim light to the side not directly on the penguins. These bright lights frighten the penguins and can lead to the pups missing their evening feed.
-Do not touch, chase or disturb the penguins or the habitats. These babies are home all day and night so you must leave them be, they are young alone and easily frightened. Move slowly and quietly about.
-Do not attempt to feed the penguins.
-Strictly NO dogs allowed on the sites at all, for obvious reasons.
-Enjoy the experience take memories and nothing else.
2) Watermill Cottage- Yorktown (LC)
This gorgeous privately owned accommodation site located in Yorktown, has beautifully manicured gardens with large wide open areas to find your perfect site. In the centre at the far side of the grounds is a picturesque large pond with a working watermill in it. The owner is one of the most friendly gentlemen and he visits on your first night to arrange your stay and have a chat. It was peaceful, open and a very safe place to leave the van and go exploring in places like Beaconsfield and Georgetown etc. You do need to be fully self contained as there are no facilities available on site.
Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre- Beaconsfield (AA)
Only a 10mins drive from Yorktown, Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre was a fantastic experience for both the kids and us adults. With so many different areas of history displayed and with so much of the museum being interactive and kid friendly- the entire family left feeling like we had gained so much from our visit. It covers, the history of mining and periods in history; household and general living, telephones and communication, machinery and buildings. It also has a very well presented tribute to the 2006 Beaconsfield mining tragedy. On entry the kids are all given a seek and find sheet of hidden items throughout the museum, a very great place to visit with kids.
For more info: https://www.beaconsfieldheritage.com.au/
Seahorse World- Beauty Point (AA)
Just up the road from Beaconsfield in Beauty Point is Seahorse World (which is also next to the Platypus House). We loved the value behind the Seahorse educational tour. A fabulous way to learn about the breeding program of seahorses and getting to see each stages of growth and development. Seahorse World breeds and ships these little guys all over the world and I think the highlight would absolutely be at the end of the tour and getting to carefully hold a seahorse. Now where else on earth can you get to do that?
For more info: https://seahorseworld.com.au/
(You can purchase a Tamar Triple Pass for these 3 attractions, to use over consecutive days. We left out the platypus house on this visit and found that the 2 was enough for the limited time we had in the area.)
3) Along the River- Pyengana (FC)
Now this was a special river side camp off the road between St Columba Falls and the Pyengana Dairy. With room for 2 van, (max 3 if you are travelling together) this little spot had all the serenity we have come to love and almost expect of Tasmania- tranquil and secluded with a shallow rock river bed and quick flowing water. It made for the perfect overnight stay for us, out of the wind and in amongst the trees, it was divine.
St Columba Falls- Pyengana (FA)
Aaahhhh life is like a waterfall, running a million miles an hour until the moment it slows in perfect serenity. As one of Tasmania’s highest multi-tiered waterfalls, St Columba is a beautiful must see point of interest. It’s an easy 25minute round trip to the falls and back, and there is a good parking area (space for parallel parking with a van), toilets and the track is shaded by the lush rainforest.
Pyengana Dairy and Real Milk Farm- Pyengana (FA)
Now here is a great little place to take the kids to learn about how to make a farm work for you and not the other way around. Here at the Dairy you can learn about cheese production, storage and most importantly the cheese tastes. Then step out the back and experience the awesomeness of how the cows wear special collars to move about the farm from milking, to feeding to paddock grazing, and how all this is controlled at the gates by collar scanning. The food here is absolutely delicious with rather generous servings and we totally recommend staying for lunch.
For more info: https://pyenganadairy.com.au/
4) Sloop Reef South, Bay of Fires (FC)
When we pulled up to the Bay of Fires IGA we thought which camp do we pick? There are so many options and they are all so gorgeous- but we must say views that come with a peaceful quiet site and serenity take trumps and Sloop Reef South was nothing short of divine. Our camp was at the edge of the path that lead down to the rocks and beach. We really felt very spoilt. With the popular (and often very crowded) Swimcart Beach only a few minutes down the road we had the best all worlds.
Rock climbing on the beach (FA)
Our boys will never tire of climbing anything. The rocks on the Sloop Reef South beach were a great challenge for the boys. They were huge, smooth and so much fun to climb. We spent ages down at the beach, paddling in the water, climbing all over the different shaped rocks and the boys made it their mission to try out all the ranges of formations and sections. So much fun and all to ourselves, life doesn’t get more perfect and with a view like that.......
5) Serpentine Dam (FC)
Well this little hidden gem was tucked up further west past the Mount Field National Park. Along a dirt road you pull into the camp and you are surrounded by water and mountains. We were blessed with a most spectacular flat rainbow just above the dam and across one of the distant mountains. It was quiet, beautiful and secluded. We also took the short trip to the Serpentine Dam wall which is only 2 minutes from the camp. Serpentine Dam is a location where you can really soak up the tranquillity and feel in balance with nature.
The Gordon (River) Dam (FA)
What an educational mine field for the kids. It really is mind boggling to think how many processes would have been needed to be followed and the sheer engineering it would have taken to build this great 140m high, 198m long and 2.7m wide arch dam back in the mid 1970s!!! The kids were able to process the magnitude of the structure, first by checking it out from the upper lookout platform, seeing the water on one side and the drop off on the other. But then after climbing down the some 185 steps onto the wall, the boys were super impressed by the experience and did not mind the road schooling history/ geography/ science and maths lessons that day.
6) Chudleigh Showground (LC)
Wow what a great community and a fabulous safe place to stay and also leave the van for a day trip. Rolling in to this great level camp ground we picked a spot and wandered over to the General Store to pay for the night and were greeted by super friendly staff. The grounds are clean, the toilets immaculate and there was a really friendly vibe among the other travellers. Right across the road is the infamous Melita Honey Farm (and ice creamery), its fun, fascinating and full of delicious treats.
Trowunna wildlife sanctuary, Mole Creek (AA)
Conservation education and rehabilitation, this is what the Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary is all about. The dedicated team of carers have been making the difference in the recovery and release of injured species since 1979. It’s the new R&R for the wildlife of Tasmania. With the sanctuary caring for a great range of species from marsupials and birds to reptiles, your admission gives you access to amazingly informative and interactive talks and tours as well as getting to experience the Tasmanian devil feeding time. Afterwards (or before hand) take yourself on a self guided tour around the grounds taking in all enclosures and free roaming wildlife. I would have to say one of the best part is the opportunity to pat a wombat, a quoll and a Tasmanian devil during the talks. Not many places you can get all that in one sitting. I think the thing that made Trowunna so special for us is that the privately owned park is full of the most incredible staff. After arriving first thing in the morning were welcomed by the operations manager himself, who whilst chatting with us gave us a short tour around the start of the park. A special mention to Lisa who took us on our sanctuary tour..... The information we learnt was better than a walking wikipedia dictionary and no one realised it went 30 mins over because the entire group was so captivated by her knowledge and presence.
For more info: http://trowunna.com.au/
7) Lake Gairdner, Moina (FC)
This was one of the most beautiful locations we stayed. It was quiet, picture perfect and the country style serenity left us feeling relaxed the entire time we were there. We saw baby echidnas popping out of the long grass for a sticky beak, we watched the platypuses swimming about each morning in the creek and listened to the bubbling water over the creek rocks the rest of the time. We felt very safe here and left our van to do our day trips. It was a handy location to leave the van for the 40 minute drive to Cradle Mountain rather than dragging our Matrix along with us.
Tasmazia and the Village of Lower Crackpot- Promised Land (AA)
You cant come to Tasmania and miss visiting Tasmazia and the Village of Lower Crackpot, you’ll never forgive yourself. Tasmazia is a quirky magical world of insane proportions. With 8 incredibly unique mazes from the Great Maze full of fun and laughter all the way down to the hilariously small Irish Maze. Then there is the Village of Lower Crackpot and Embassy Gardens- model villages and collections of crazy cool buildings all created at a 1/5th scale, show casing the quirkiest little township we’ve ever seen and most unique collection of interpretive country embassy displays. This was a ‘really want to do’ for us but now we’ve been, it’s a ‘you truly must go’ kinda place. If your in Tasmania, you simply have to go and get lost in Tasmazia.
For more info: https://www.tasmazia.com.au/
Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park (NP parks pass)
As clique as it sounds, you cant come to Tasmania an miss Cradle Mountain. Located in the Central Highlands of Tasmania you’ll be taken aback by the breath taking views no matter the season or weather. Even if you just stick to the easy walking tracks the beauty and tranquillity of the Lake, mountains and waterfalls will win you over immediately. We took our boys on the 6km walk around Dove Lake. It was beautiful at every angle. We headed left to start with towards the gorgeous rock lookout and finished at the picturesque boat house 2-2.5hrs later. We stopped in the middle for lunch and although we weren’t lucky enough to find one, it is quite common to happen upon wombats crossing the paths with you. There are waterfall walks up near the Rangers Station that are truly worth the short distances too.
8) Tungatinah Lagoon (Back Access), just outside Tarraleah (FC)
Well this little gem is tucked away in the back access section of the lagoon. 4WD will provide easy access to this camp and its divine views of the Tungatinah Lagoon. This little spot was quiet, green and we felt super relaxed. Just a plain simple camp with an amazing view.... could you want much more?
Geographical centre of Tasmania, Bronte Park (FA)
The Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western most points of Tasmania are not exactly the easiest to visit but the one that appealed to us the most sure was. The Geographical Centre of Tasmania, located between Tarraleah and Derwent River, is a coordinate defined monument with a setting of the gorgeous Bronte Lake around it and great history, it just a super awesome place to visit.
The wall in the Wilderness, Derwent River (AA)
Younger kids may not grasp the entire enormity of this experience but our boys 7 and 9 sure got their monies worth. This spectacular 100m long hand carved wooden wall by artist Greg Duncan has showcased his personal interpretation of the historical importance from the Tasmanian Highlands. With scenes from the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger, to environmental plight of the wedged tailed eagle, to workers of the Hydro-Electric Scheme and the forestry industry, you just get lost making up your own interpretation of his story. We suggest starting from the back and working your way around. But don’t stop there, scattered all around the hall is so much more art to be seen and enjoyed not to mention the insatiable cafe soup specials perfect in cold weather.
For more info: http://thewalltasmania.com.au/
9) Macquarie Heads (LC), just outside of Strahan
A great low cost bush camp close enough to Strahan but far enough to be its own experience too. The camping grounds are full of little pockets to camp alone or with friends, there is drive on beach access and if your keen some great walks to explore. The caretaker is friendly and helpful, and the drive out from Strahan is a nice 20mins of forestry and gorgeous landscapes.
‘The Ship That Never Was’- Strahan (AA)
Now this was an experience we almost missed and are so glad we didn’t. The Ship That Never Was is an incredibly hilarious pantomime that just happens to be famous for being Australia’s longest running play. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in Jan 2019, this not to be missed night out is an outrageously great recount of the true story and last great escape from Sarah Island in Tasmania, 1834. It’s extremely interactive and a laugh a minute play that will have you in stitches the entire time. There is no age limit but the show does go for approx 1hr and 15mins and you may be singled out, up and acting before you know it. So be sure to take your jacket and your sense of humour for a great time.
10) The limitless West Coast Beaches
Trial Harbour (FC), Granville Harbour (FC) Sandy Cape Beach (Permit)
These are just must sees for anyone with a small van or even just as a day trip. The endless ocean views of Trial Harbour, the picturesque sunsets over Granville Harbour, the spectacular feeling of driving along the beach track of the Sandy Cape and onwards to the Lighthouse are all experiences that the keen remote travellers will not want to miss. We don’t want to give away all the secrets of the west coast but our photos show you all you need to see to want to go, see, explore!