We visited Launceston many times when I was growing up and my favourite experience was visiting Penny Royal Adventures in Launceston. While I was too young at the time for my memories to be very clear, I do remember my sense of wonder and awe from going on the boats and seeing and hearing the cannons. I thought the old Penny Royal World Launceston was an amazing place.
Fast forward 30+ years and I was very excited for the chance to finally visit the Penny Royal Tasmania again. This time with my own three kids aged 4, 8 and 10.
Reading about it beforehand, the site seem quite expanded from the little I remembered and like we were going to have a great time. So the Launceston Penny Royal was the first place we headed when we got into town.
However, all the different attractions did make it seem quite complicated to work out what to do and which ticket to get so I hope these Penny Royal Launceston reviews helps you work out what to do at Penny Royal for your family.
Below, I share my full review of the Penny Royal Adventure Park and describe exactly what you can expect from a visit here as well as information about the Leisure Inn Penny Royal Hotel Launceston and the Penny Royal Restaurant.
Know you want to go? Buy your discounted ticket here now!
Penny Royal Launceston Review
The Penny Royal Launceston history first began in 1972 when a local developed called Roger Smith found some convict bricks in Barton in the midlands of Tasmania. He discovered they were from buildings, including a windmill, owned by early pioneers of Tasmania that settled in land by the Isis River which had been known as Penny Royal Creek.
Smith purchased the bricks and decided to rebuild the mill and make a tourist attraction near Cataract Gorge in Launceston.
It was quite a task, but it was completed and Penny Royal first opened in 1979 with a short boat ride, firing cannons, radio controlled boats and a barge ride with information on how to create gunpowder. It was initially very popular but visitor numbers dwindled in the 90’s and 2000’s and Penny Royal was eventually closed for more than 8 years.
In 2016, Penny Royal Adventures was reopened after an extensive facelift and there is a lot more to do at Penny Royal today.
There is a convict/colonial theme to the land attractions and then an adventure theme to some adventure attractions on the surrounding cliffs.
There is a paid car park on site with many spots taken up by the hotel.
There is a ticket office near the entry where you can get more details, book your Brig Tamar Cruise time (necessary when we visited) and any other tickets. You can also enter the Penny Royal and take a look around or eat at their restaurants without buying a ticket.
Once you have any tickets, you can wander around and do stuff at your leisure. On our visit, only the Brig Tamar Cruise required a set time with us being able to do anything else we wanted when we wanted.
The first thing I noticed is how well presented, maintained and pretty the site is.
We started with the Dark Ride which is right by the entrance. It’s basically a boat ride that goes under the main Penny Royal area while telling the story of bushranger Matthew Brady. As you go through the ride, you are basically looking for him after seeing some scenes like different mills.
There are also some skeletons and ghosts thrown in which I thought was a shame as it detracted from the story. However, it is a fun way to learn a bit of history and we all enjoyed it especially the kids who wanted to do it again.
Gold & Gemstone Mine
The small gold and gemstone mine is an indoor attraction where there is water running over a whole lot of gravel/gold/gemstones. There are green plates you can use to help you fossick for gold.
It’s simple but was a big win for our kids who loved looking for stones and “gold” to take home. It is easy to find some gold specks and different coloured stones and you are given small ziplock bags to take them home. If I’m being honest, I got quite into it too 🙂
Convict Barefoot Sensation
The barefoot sensation is a path where you walk barefoot over a variety of surfaces like a water trough, balls, sawdust, stones, gravel and more. The kids liked it but it is on the simple side so they were finished fairly quickly.
It was a colder day when we visited but they still enjoyed getting their feet wet! There are hand dryers set up to dry feet after although these were hard to use.
This is more for younger kids although our ten year old did enjoy it too.
Brig Tamar Cruise + Sarah Island Ghosts
This “cruise” around the centre of the Penny Royal is the highlight of a visit. Taking about 45 minutes, you are introduced to the era and given information by your “captain” who takes you on a cruise back and forth in the small water area. The boat stops at one point to let off a couple of imitation cannons. Then the cruise stops at Sarah Island.
Sarah Island was the site of a convict prison near Strahan on the west coast. Here, we did a tour under the building to see the ghosts of bushrangers Matthew Brady and Thomas Jeffries while learning more. The tour was done in three groups so the one downside of this tour is having to wait for about 20 minutes while the other groups do their tour without anything to do.
However, this cruise is worth it. It brought back the good memories I had of visiting Penny Royal as a kid and the guide was entertaining and fun.
I also think this cruise helps set the scene for the entire site. We had to do it at the end of our visit due to it being the only time available, but I recommend you do it first as I think I would have got more out of our visit had we done it that way around.
Once you are done with the land adventures, the cliff walk is a great next step. This is a series of a dozen rope bridges on the sides of the cliff at the site.
This attraction is for 5+ year olds and a minimum height of 1.2 metres which is a bit of a bummer if you have a four year old like us.
However, our older kids did love it. Our 8 year old found it hard and scary at times, especially when walking over the waterfall where there were many planks missing in the path. He is a cautious kid, but I still wouldn’t recommend this for kids much younger than him. Our 10 year old rushed through and thought it was easy.
It’s more for kids than adults, although the views up there are nice and it’s the perfect way to set yourself up for ziplining or the Quick Jump.
From the sides of the cliff, you can zipline down. There is a longer 100 metre one across the site and a shorter one over the water. There are good views and it’s a fun, but shortlived attraction.
It’s for 7+ year olds that are a minimum 1.2 metres and a maximum weight of 120 kilograms.
For something a bit different, you can take a 20 metre jump off the side of the cliff instead. Although called a quick jump, it’s more like a slow jump but it did look fun and not too scary even for someone like me who would never ever bungee jump but would do this.
The final attraction is rock climbing. Also on the cliffs, this is for 5+ year olds. We didn’t try this one but it looked like fun and went quite high with a range of climbs.
Penny Royal Adventures has a good range of attractions although it can seem like there are actually two parks on one site with the mix of adventure and convict/colonial themed activities.
The adventure activities seemed squarely aimed at families or beginners to adventure activities that don’t want something hardcore. They are fun and well executed though.
The two boat rides – the Brig Tamar Cruise and Dark Ride – are definitely the best attractions that make this site worth visiting in my opinion. I liked the mix of history and fun and would happily visit again just to do them.
You’d need a solid half day at least to do all the attractions. We spent about three hours here and didn’t do all the adventure activities.
Penny Royal Tickets And Opening Hours
Penny Royal opening hours are currently 9am-5pm Wednesday to Sunday during the school holidays.
Penny Royal prices really depend on the attractions you want to do.
You can purchase the attractions individually or in a group ticket for better value. You can enter the park itself for free (although this won’t be much fun and I don’t recommend it). The tickets start at $5 for the Barefoot Sensation, but generally they are at least $10 each. Kids pay less than adults at some of the attractions. There are also family tickets.
The best Penny Royal promotions are for the ticket which includes everything. You can buy it now here.
You can also buy half day passes which basically get you all the lower land attractions (Park Pass – Dark Ride, Brig Tamar Cruise, Gold Mine, Barefoot Sensation as well as the Cliff Walk) or the higher ones (Cliff Pass – Zip Lines, Quick Jump, Cliff Walk and Rock Climbing). These work great if you are primarily interested in one of the themes of the park or have just a couple of hours.
We had wondered if it was really necessary for us to buy adult tickets to the kid focused attractions like the Convict Barefoot Sensation and the fossicking. It wasn’t when we visited – they could just do the activities while we watched.
We were also confused when looking at buying individual attraction tickets online by all the start times. Other than the Brig Tamar Cruise, it wouldn’t have mattered what we put. You won’t need all the time they recommend either – an hour fossicking is too much.
Of course, if you visited at a super busy time, you may need longer to get around each attraction. We were there in October school holidays.
For the ultimate experience, you can stay on site at the Leisure Inn Penny Royal Hotel & Apartments Launceston. In addition to the super close proximity to Penny Royal Adventures, you are by the Tamar and 10 minutes walk to the centre of Launceston or walking distance to Cataract Gorge.
In addition to restaurants on site as described below, there is also wifi and parking.
Leisure Inn Penny Royal Launceston reviews reveal a variety of room types. You can stay in hotel style rooms or self contained Penny Royal apartments. The apartments range from one to three bedrooms and can accommodate up to six people.
Hotel rooms come in doubles, triples and family options for four.
Note some of the Penny Royal accommodation room options are on the first floor and there is only stair access. There are also two parts to the hotel. One is directly adjacent to Penny Royal Adventures. The other is a couple of hundred metres away.
Penny Royal Restaurant Launceston (And Other Eating Options)
The Penny Royal Launceston Restaurant is located on site and is currently open for lunch daily, dinner every evening except Sunday and breakfast on weekends.
The Penny Royal menu Launceston is limited – there are not many choices but there is good variety within the choices. Three course specials are available for dinner and two courses for lunch from the Penny Royal Restaurant menu.
This restaurant gets great reviews and has great service but it is on the pricier side. I would save it for a special occasion rather than as part of your visit here. I think it would be pretty at night when the Adventures part of the park is shut.
There is also a wine bar with tastings from Relbia Estate and Brady’s Tavern.
Brady’s Tavern is a more affordable choice and serves pizza, pasta and parmas on days when Penny Royal Adventures Launceston is open from 12pm-7pm at time of publishing. It also has a kids’ menu and regular pizza happy hours.
Kids (and big kids) will love the Ice Creamery Cafe also at Penny Royal Adventures. In addition to ice creams, they serve coffee, sandwiches and drinks.
Penny Royal Adventures Location
The Penny Royal Adventures Launceston Tas is located near the city centre at 1 Bridge Road, Launceston.
If you have your own vehicle, it’s easy to drive here and there is paid parking onsite. It’s a 10 minute walk from the centre of Launceston.
We had a great time at Penny Royal Adventures. It’s a fun place with an interesting mix of attractions which has something for everyone. I think it’s also ideal for families since the attractions are somewhat low key but it has something for all ages.
Between the attractions and the food outlets, it caters well to an easy day out.
We will definitely be back!
Find more fun things to do in Launceston in our full guide here. You can also find all our Launceston guides here. If you are looking for accommodation, you can read our Village Family Motor Inn review here.
Sharon grew up in Tasmania, moved away and then came back with her family twenty years later. She loves re-discovering her home state and sharing it with you here.