AUSTRALIA-Many adventure-seeking families take the opportunity when the kids are young to set off to travel the country, but it usually involves a campervan.

So imagine embarking on a 14,000-kilometre trek with two kids under five — on tandem bikes.

“Are we there yet?” is a frequent backseat complaint but these kids have been far from bored. Almost a year ago, a Tasmanian family began a journey with a difference: mum and dad riding tandem bikes, with the kids in tow. Nicola and Andrew Hughes hail from quaintly named Flowerpot, south of Hobart.

They set off on January 7 with Hope, now five, and Wilfred — also known as Wilfy — who has just turned four, to explore “the places and people north, south, east and west”. “We just see it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while the kids are the right age to get them out of our normal life and put big challenges in their lives,” Mr Hughes said.

“But also let them see the great diversity of people that make up Australia and realise that our little place in Tasmania is very special, but it’s not all that’s out there.”

Along the way, their trip has doubled as mobile classroom with several schools taking part in projects by sharing the family’s experiences on the road via Skype.

When it comes to what they’ve learnt as a family, the Nicola and Andrew say they have been “slightly surprised” at how the kids have coped and how adaptable they are.

“Kids are very capable of doing not only doing physically challenging projects, but they are mentally up for it, long days on the bike and being out in nature,” Mr Hughes said. They think it will take a few years for the children to absorb the experience. For Hope, it’s been a “confidence boost”.

“She will run up to a group of kids in a heartbeat now and she will be in a game with them almost immediately,” he said.

The family has also seen the benefits of limited screen time.

“Watching their imaginations grow and they way they have developed play has been really interesting,” Ms Hughes said.

“That idea of thinking ‘we need to take toys on the trip for them to have something to do’, well now we pull up at a camp site and they will grabs some rocks and make a racing track or set up a cubby.

“They’ve had a little bit of [screen time] but on whole very little and their imaginations have just skyrocketed.” Both agree another of the other high points has been meeting fellow Australians.

“That 50 kilometres around the coastline where 80-90 per cent of Australia lives, we’ve generally avoided that and we’ve been in the empty part,” Mr Hughes said.

“The people that are in those quiet parts of the country are generally more friendly and we’ve made good friends really quickly.

“The less people there are the more friendly they are.”

But they have encountered some negativity from people who disapprove of their mission and think it is dangerous.