Taking in the views at the summit of Kunanyi/Mt Wellington

The best family-friendly activities in Tasmania this winter

Discover the best family activities in Tasmania this winter: festivals, food and fun.

Animal encounters

Cute kids love cute animals, and Tasmania is literally crawling with wildlife – and so many options for getting up close and curious with them. At Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary near Hobart, visitors can meet everyone from wombats and snakes to a geriatric cockatoo. Hand-feed the local forester kangaroos and, if your timing is good, view a live medical procedure through the window into the veterinary clinic. This winter, see Bonorong in a different light with their Bite Size Night Tours - an after-dark feeding experience for small groups where you can (very carefully) serve the Tassie devils and quolls their dinner. 

In the north of the state, Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary has a similar ethos of conservation and education; they’ve been breeding endangered Eastern Quolls to send to a purpose-built wildlife enclosure in New South Wales as part of a rewilding program. 

On the east coast, you can walk a wombat at Nature World or head back at night for a very special glow tour to see which animals and plants glow with natural bioluminescence.  While you’re in the area, aspiring herpetologists will love the indoor reptile exhibits at Serpentarium Wildlife Park

For a more aquatic experience, the unique Seahorse World in the Tamar Valley is a working seahorse farm that offers the chance to not only watch and learn all about these mysterious creatures but also hold one in your hand. Tasmania Zoo and Zoodoo both offer a variety of native and exotic creatures, or take the ferry to Maria Island where you are guaranteed to see a wombat in the wild – you might also see forester kangaroos, Cape Barren geese, native hens, bandicoots, wallabies and more. BYO or hire bikes to get further afield to the island’s beautiful beaches and historic ruins.

For something completely different, winter in Tasmania is a wonderful time to take a dry sled ride led by Huskies, with Sled Dog Adventures in the south. Based on a beautiful property that also houses River’s Edge Wilderness Camping in Lonnavale in the Huon Valley, the sled rides operate from May to September. 

Meet Maria Island's wombats

Credit: Stu Gibson

Hand-feed a tortoise at Serpentarium Wildlife Park

Credit: Ros Wharton

Travel with pooch power at Sled Dog Adventures

Credit: Dearna Bond

Frosty festivals

Dark Mofo has done so much to encourage Tasmanians and visitors to embrace winter over the past decade. The festival is on a bit of a break this year, but there are numerous others to choose from. 

Sing your heart out at the Festival of Voices this winter (28 June-7 July). With a focus on community and warmth, a festival highlight is the Big Sing Bonfire (29 June) where everyone is encouraged to rug up and sing loud. Their silent disco will also get little (and full grown) bodies moving and laughing. 

Long a fixture of a Tasmanian winter, the Mid Winter Fest at Willie Smiths (July 12-13) will celebrate the darker months for the last time this year. Bring the kids along to see the Big Willie effigy burn, join the wassail to bless the season’s apple harvest and enjoy live music and delicious local produce (the toffee apples are highly recommended). Pagan-inspired dress ups are optional, but very much encouraged. 

Beaker Street Festival is a week-long homage to cool science in August with a bunch of family-friendly options on the program, including Hobartica – an Antarctica-themed area on the waterfront where visitors can meet Antarctic scientists or even hop into a family-friendly tent sauna session. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and Adam Spencer are both doing solo shows and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) will be open at night for free interactive presentations by scientists. For young nature lovers, the festival hosts the premiere of Becoming Platypus, a new documentary from Hobart’s platypus whisperer Pete Walsh, or families can learn together on a walking tour with tree expert Yoav Bar-Ness.

Don't miss the last ever Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest

Credit: Natalie Mendham

Fun with food

Dark Mofo may be on hiatus for 2024, but its signature event the Winter Feast is decidedly on. Expose the kids to a variety of interesting and unique meals and snacks in the excitement of a flame-lit night by the water (June 13-16 and 20-23). They’ll especially love the firepits, and the giant marshmallows and s’mores kits you can buy to melt on them, or perhaps they’re keen for an ice cream with a unique flavour combo by palawa kipli, a sustainable Aboriginal food business that also offer bush food tours on Aboriginal land in Hobart.

And what child (or teen, or adult) could say no to a festival of chocolate? Chocolate Winterfest is held in Latrobe on the central northern coast of Tasmania on August 13. The program includes a chocolate-themed wearable art trail, decorating competitions, a teddy bear chocolate treasure hunt and chocolate mystic readings, amongst other quirky cocoa-inspired activities across town. If you can’t get there on that day you can also see chocolate being made through viewing windows at Anvers Chocolate Factory in Latrobe on other days (they also have a small chocolate museum).

Down south, look through the showroom windows to see chocolate products being made on the manufacturing level at The Tasmanian Chocolate Foundry in Taranna on the Tasman Peninsula. For more sweetness, learn how honey is made and view a hive through the glass at The Honey Pot in the Huon Valley or at Melita Honey Farm in Chudleigh near Deloraine. 

Catch the light display at Bicheno Beams

Credit: Adam Reibel

Bright night lights

It gets mightily dark, mightily early in winter in Tasmania: all the better for getting the kids looking up at the stars or illuminated light shows. Bicheno Beams (29 June-20 July) is a free family-friendly laser light show each evening in the popular east coast beach town. 

In the northwest, Moonlight Stories sees projections of art onto the iconic Table Cape lighthouse. This year the artwork tunapri, by Tasmanian Aboriginal artist Caleb Nichols-Mansell, tells a beautifully lit-up story of Country with an accompanying soundscape for free every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening in June (places must be booked). 

In Hobart, Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin, aka Glow Girl, guides family-friendly glow tours where small groups explore what glows at night – see fluorescent marsupials, owls, flowers, lichen, fungi and more. If indoors is more your style, Lisa also offers a glow show; a studio-based education on how to spot an aurora australis (the southern lights), sea sparkles (bioluminescence), ghost mushrooms, glow worms and fluorescent creatures. 

Walk On kunanyi runs guided night walks on Hobart’s magnificent mountain: learn about local nocturnal wildlife (you’re quite likely to see possums, pademelons, wallaby, owls and bats) and the night sky. Get a real sense of time and space as you look down on Hobart’s twinkling lights, and lucky ones might even see an aurora on the horizon. 

Visit the mini-village at Tasmazia

Credit: Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett

The quirk factor

Let the little ones feel big for once at the unique Old Hobart Town model village in Richmond. Feel like giants as you wander around the miniature rendition of what early Hobart looked like in the 1820s, complete with handcrafted buildings and miniature people going about everyday life. The north of the state also has a whimsical mini-village, Lower Crackpot, at the Tasmazia site. One of the largest maze complexes in the world, Tasmazia offers eight individual mazes with various levels of complexity, as well as a bunch of kid-oriented options for screen-free entertainment.

Indoor fun

If the weather is not co-operating, or it’s just time for some indoor entertainment, Tasmania has some top-notch museums and shows to take the kids to this winter. The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) in the north and TMAG in the south each have permanent and evolving displays that are great for families. 

TMAG’s mapiya lumi/around here is a room entirely dedicated to under sevens and full of fun little corners and levels to explore, and their Antarctic room is an educational and interactive space for all ages - touch the frozen map of Antarctica, see real stuffed penguins, huskies and albatross and pop on the 3D glasses for films about the Southern Ocean and the icy continent. At QVMAG kids can visit the planetarium or become animal detectives or dinosaur detectives, and at TMAG there’s a Hidden Creatures gallery trail and app, discovery backpacks and museum toolkits to make the whole visit one big adventure. 

Just across the road, Hobart’s Maritime Museum of Tasmania keeps kids enthralled with lots of engaging displays, bits and pieces from real boats, and interactive elements.

In Ulverstone, The Hive Planetarium has a weekly all-ages show, Tycho goes to Mars, plus almost-daily shows suitable for ages five and above. On the west coast, Australia's longest-running play The Ship That Never Was has audience members big and small laughing and gasping at the incredible story of the convicts who stole an almost-completed ship to escape the harsh penal life of Sarah Island. Celebrating 30 years of shows in 2024, the production is held in an undercover but open-air theatre in Strahan, so rug up (and be prepared to be roped into the show – audience participation is part of the fun!).

Want even more ideas?

Here's 100 more reasons to experience Tasmania this winter.