At the top of the Tamar Valley, Kelso is a small town which makes a great base from which to explore the Tamar Valley. With just 146 people in the last census, this is not the place to go for city lights. However, if you love nature and getting away from it all while being in a location with plenty to explore in the region, Kelso, Tasmania may be for you!
Located by the river, Kelso is a small smattering of houses without any shops or restaurants. The only place of note for travellers is the Big4 Kelso Sands Holiday Park. Kelso is a pretty, relaxing place in proximity to some of the Tamar Valley’s big attractions, particularly Seahorse World and Platypus House in Beauty Point and Greens Beach. Beaconsfield is also not far away.
Kelso was settled in the 19th century on Kelso Bay on the western side of the Tamar River near the mouth at Bass Strait. The first European inhabitant was William Kelsall who settled here in 1804.
It’s believed the name Kelso may be a derivative of Kelsall although it could also be named after a town called Kelso in Scotland. It’s known for its fishing of flathead, mullet and whiting.
Below, you will find our full guide to Kelso including full details of nearby attractions, a map and information about staying and getting here.
Kelso Tasmania Map
Kelso Tas is located about 59 kilometres or 50 minutes north west of Launceston. The quickest way to get here is up the A8 from Launceston towards George Town but then crossing the Tamar at the Batman Bridge and taking the A7 the rest of the way to Kelso.
Things To Do In Kelso
While there isn’t anything to do in Kelso itself besides relax and take it easy with maybe a fishing rod in hand, there is plenty to do in the surrounding region.
You can read our full guide to things to do in the Tamar Valley here or below are the best attractions in the immediate surrounds of Kelso.
Located about 15 minutes drive from Kelso is Seahorse World, a commercial seahorse farm which has (usually) hourly guided tours for visitors.
This 40 minute tour takes you around various rooms at their farm while you learn about the seahorses on display. It’s surprisingly interesting and our family were all entertained looking at the breeding tanks (male seahorses grow babies in their bellies!), the nursery and the primary and secondary seahorse tanks that the seahorses move through as they age.
Onsite is also The Cormorant Café which has great views as well as a gift shop.
Platypus House is located right next to Seahorse World, a quick 15 minutes drive from Kelso on a pier. There are guided tours through the centre hourly, and it’s recommended to book ahead.
This place is perfect if you want to learn more and get up close to platypuses and echnidas.
At the start of the tour, there’s a brief introduction to both creatures before heading into a large room featuring some big tanks which are the home of the resident platypuses (all rescues).
After you get plenty of time to watch the platypuses, you move onto the next room where you can close to echidnas. It’s quite amazing how close and interesting they are.
Overall, this is a great place to visit which is fun and educational and will give you a better understanding of these creatures.
You can read more in our full review here.
Green Beach is a small town located just eight minutes drive north west of Kelso right at the mouth of the Tamar. It’s a pretty beach which is much nicer than what you’ll find in Kelso and worth the drive.
It’s also home to the closest shop (which has takeaway) and a bar. There’s also a golf club.
It’s possible to take surfing lessons at the beach and there are toilets, change rooms, a playground and fitness equipment here. It’s all very nice.
Narawntapu National Park
Narawntapu National Park is located just a couple of kilometres from the centre of Green Beach, close to Kelso. It’s home to much wildlife including Forester kangaroos, Bennett’s wallabies and pademelons. There are gorgeous beaches and some great walks in this national park which runs along the coastline from Green Beach to Port Sorell.
For something nice and easy, you can drive into the park to the main parking lot and there is a 270 metre walk to Badger Beach Lookout. This beach is just gorgeous, completely unspoilt and always people free when we have seen it. From here, you can also walk down to the beach.
There’s also a full day walk that runs along the stretch of the park from Bakers Beach to Green Beach.
Since this is a national park, fees apply. There is a booth where you can buy a day pass on entry into the park. If you are thinking of visiting other parks while in Tasmania, it’s worth buying a pass. More information here. The roads within the park are unsealed.
York Town Historic Site
York Town Historic Site is about 7 minutes drive south of Kelso. You will most likely drive right past here on your way into town.
This is the site of the fifth oldest settlement in Australia after Sydney, Norfolk Island, Risdon Cove and Hobart. It was first settled in 1804 and, at its height, there were around 300 people who lived here. It was settled to help secure Bass Strait for the British. Its time was short lived though and it was largely abandoned by 1809 in favour of Launceston.
While no ruins remain, you can visit the site which has a toilet, picnic facilities and a 15 minute walk around the site complete with information boards. A wooden structure has been erected to give you an idea of what the buildings would have looked like back then.
It’s an interesting and easy site to visit and the walk is easy although the path is slightly overgrown in parts. It’s worth stopping here to stretch the legs and learn some history on the way past.
Find more things to do in the surrounding Tamar Valley here.
Kelso Accommodation Tasmania
The only accommodation option in Kelso itself is the Big4 Kelso Sands Holiday Park. There are other options in the surrounding Tamar Valley which you can read about here.
This Kelso caravan park Tasmania is the only option for Kelso Tasmania accommodation.
Located just to the north of this tiny town, the Big4 Kelso Sands Holiday Park is on a big site with Tamar River frontage. It’s a pretty spot with good value cabins and many facilities on offer.
There are two and three bedroom cabins and cottages as well as powered and unpowered sites. There’s a solar heated pool in the summer months as well as a playground, sporting grounds and the usual amenities block and camp kitchen. In the evening, there are many potaroos around.
It’s an easy, relaxing place to stay.
Kelso Tasmania Weather
Kelso’s weather varies from averages of 11-23 degrees in summer to 6-13 degrees in the middle of winter. Rain is most common in winter.
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.