South to west: top kid-approved pitstops
We know it can be a fair drive heading out west, especially with the little ones in the back. But the Lyell Highway is packed with kid-friendly pitstops that’ll make your journey across to Strahan one to remember.
New Norfolk – the heart of the Derwent Valley. Hunt for trinkets at antique stores, stretch the legs along the banks of the River Derwent or pop into one of the friendly cafes for a bite to eat. High Street hosts Banjo’s New Norfolk Market on Saturdays – full of local produce and treasures. For those who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, Leap and Wander Studio offers pottery and clay workshops. Or head up the road to the Salmon Ponds at Plenty. The kids will love running around the beautiful gardens and feeding the fish (they may even spot a platypus!). Plus, Pancakes by the Ponds cook up delicious crepes worth stopping for.
New Norfolk in the Derwent Valley. Image: Stu Gibson
Set on the banks of the Tyenna River, the small town of Westerway is the perfect kid-friendly pitstop. Sit and watch the ducks with an iced chocolate at the Possum Shed Café or stop at the Westerway Raspberry Farm for a berry-flavoured ice cream. Westerway is the gateway to Mt Field National Park, home to much-loved rainforest walks, including Russell Falls. About a 20-minute drive away is Railtrack Riders at Maydena, where the whole family can explore the wilderness in a pedal-powered buggy along a historic railway line.
Exploring the wilderness with Railtrack Riders. Image: Railtrack Riders
Cuddle a lamb at Curringa Farm! This 750-acre working sheep farm offers tours and award-winning accommodation. The kids will love watching the working dogs and saying hello to the alpacas and other farm animals. The café is open by arrangement for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Check their Facebook page for updates on opening hours.
Meeting the sheep at Curringa Farm. Image: Tourism Tasmania
Hydro town turned tourist village, Tarraleah truly is a playground in the highlands. Feed the highland cows, spot Wedge-tailed eagles, quolls and huge trees on the nature trails or tuck into some lunch at the café. Take some time to learn about the hydroelectric history of this small town and marvel at the views of the 290m steel water pipes running down the mountain to Tarraleah Power Station.
View of the Tarraleah Power Station. Image: Stu Gibson
The Bradys Chain of Lakes and Bronte Lagoon
Stop for a picnic and stretch the legs at one of the revered trout fishing waters you’ll pass along the way. The Bradys Chain of Lakes includes Tungatinah Lagoon, Lake Binney and Bradys Lake. Slightly further along the highway, you’ll also find Bronte Lagoon. For families into their fishing, try your luck at catching brown or rainbow trout. Information and licences are available via the Tasmanian Inland Fisheries Service.
Resting at Bradys Lake Camping Ground. Image: @tara.vanlife.aus via Instagram
Discover the history of Tasmania’s central highlands at The Wall in the Wilderness. Spanning 100m, you could spend hours taking in the intricate details of this hand-carved Huon pine masterpiece. Top tip: The next petrol station is at Queenstown. So, if you need to re-fuel, stop at Derwent Bridge. Speaking of re-fuelling… pop into The Hungry Wombat Café for a coffee or sit by the roaring fire with a Sri Lankan curry at the Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel.
The Wall. Image: Tourism Tasmania & Brian Dullaghan via @spiritoftas on Instagram
Lake St Clair
Part of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and the UNESCO Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Lake St Clair is the ultimate pitstop for taking a deep breath of fresh air before your last leg to Strahan. Its Aboriginal name, leeawuleena, means ‘sleeping water’. As you look out across the still, dark reflections, you’ll understand why. There is a visitor centre, café and picnic tables close to the shore of the lake and accessible nature trails for stretching the legs, including Platypus Bay. Fun fact: Lake St Clair is Australia’s deepest natural freshwater lake!
Serenity at Lake St Clair. Image: Tourism Tasmania & Garry Moore
(For little ones who don’t get car sick), count the 99 bends as you twist and turn down into the historic mining town of Queenstown. Kick the footy or chuck the frisbee on the gravel oval, wander through the 30 rooms at the Galley Museum, check out Horsetail and Nelson Falls or all aboard the West Coast Wilderness Railway. You’re on the home stretch now! Strahan Village is around 40 minutes away via the Lyell Highway.
The iconic gravel oval at Queenstown. Image: We are Explorers
Our top picks for even more family fun at Strahan include cruising the Gordon River aboard Spirit of the Wild, tobogganing at Henty Dunes and having a good chuckle at Australia’s longest running play, The Ship That Never Was. For food, you can’t beat the kids’ menu at Hamer’s or a pastry from The Kitchen.
The kids will love The Ship That Never Was. Image: Piotr Babis
Share your journey!
We love seeing your west coast adventures. Please tag us in your happy snaps on Instagram @strahanvillage