A family-friendly way to navigate Tasmania’s capital and its highlights is to hop on a double decker tour bus. The Red Decker bus company offers 24 or 48 hour passes which are ideal for breaking up your exploration of Hobart and getting the most from your sightseeing, especially if you have young ones needing naps or that get easily tired.
The tour loop takes 90 minutes in total which was the perfect time length of engagement for our boys aged 4 and 7 years. You can either remain on board the entire loop as we did (we had been to most destinations many times prior), but if you jump off at a destination of your interest, the bus is then conveniently available at that same spot each hour for you to reboard and continue your journey.
We rode both in the open air upper level and down below. There are fantastic 360 degree views from mountain to water from the top deck. It can really be enjoyed in all seasons; just get rugged up! The pre-recorded commentary is easy to understand and offers general points of interest about Hobart and also makes for a fascinating history lesson. My older boy was very interested to learn that convicts were often used as servants in the bigger houses and had their own outside area to live in. There is also the option to listen via headphones in other languages.
There are so many jump-off-and-look-around highlights, (make sure you press the buzzer prior to the stop you want to alight) but some that are especially enjoyable for families with primary school and under children include:
1. Princes Park
On the Castray Esplande (opposite the CSIRO) is a fun filled playground that features a large pirate ship. Princes Park is also home to the oldest building in Battery Point built in 1818, The Old Semaphore Station. It was used to signal boats entering the harbour and to send messages to the Port Arthur Penal colony.
The park offers lovely views and a grassy hill to roll down if you, or the kids feel so inclined as mine did! Note: there are toilets at this stop.
Find it on our Map.
2. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is Australia’s second-oldest museum and is also an Art Gallery. It cares for objects as diverse as fossils and fine art. Highlights for kids include the room dedicated to the Tasmanian Tiger (note: some images in here may be distressing), animals unique to Tasmania and the Antarctic area to mention just a few. Look out for regular events and school holiday activities.
Note: Open 10am-4pm and Free entry. Not usually open Mondays. More info: www.tmag.tas.gov.au
3. Doone Kennedy Aquatic Centre Hobart
If you have swimming gear on hand this is a fantastic place to spend some time and is suitable for toddlers and older children. Heated indoor pools and fountains, a small elephant slide and a half tube water slide make hours of entertainment for the kids.
The water is warm all year round!
4. Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens includes 14 acres of beautiful gardens that were established in 1818 and set within convict built walls. The Japanese Gardens, sub-Antarctic house and the enormous Vegie patch are all highlights. Café, gift shop and toilets available. Open daily and free entry or gold coin donation.
More info: www.gardens.rtbg.tas.gov.au
5. Victoria Dock
Victoria Dock is one of Tasmania’s oldest docks. Look around at the myriad of boats (or a cruise ship if your timing is right) and take some photos in front of the iconic Tasmanian sculptures. A great place to grab a meal. The Lower Deck at Mures is perfect for a casual sit down fish n chips and includes colouring-in for kids. They also make a great kids meal. Tip: don’t feed the seagulls!!
Tickets to Red Decker bus tours can be purchased at their shop at Brooke Street Pier or at the Travel Centre, all of which are included sites where you can hop-on. You can also purchase tickets on-board. Our driver Dave was a self-confessed ‘Peter Pan’ who never grew out of his love of buses and his passion for his job certainly shone through!
Other points to note include that the bus is wheelchair accessible, kids 0-5 are free, but be aware that there are no toilets on board. Tours operate 7 days per week and timetables vary for Winter and Summer. Additional tours such as the Cascade Brewery and Mt Wellington can be added on to this tour. You can find more information at www.reddecker.com.au
Writer and family travelled as a guest of Red Decker bus tours.