If you have read any travel magazines or newspapers over the past 12 months you will know that Tasmania is the hottest place to be right now. Full of history, as Australia’s second oldest cities with the most concentrated number of heritage listed buildings and wharfs, this most southern capital city is coming live thanks to modern art, eco-tourism and some of the country’s best quality produce.
You can visit for a night, a week or a month and you will be left wanting more. I was lucky enough to see a fair bit of this little Australian treasure, but here are my tips for what to do and where to go in the state’s holy grail, Hobart.
THINGS TO DO
Climb and descend Mount Wellington
Once you arrive in Hobart you will release that this is no easy feat! But you can opt to do this in number of different ways. You can drive up it – a fabulous way to admire the amazing houses on the way to the top and stunning landscape (unless you are the driver of course). If you’re a little more adventurous (and incredibly fit) you can hire a bike and cycle up it, or run up it. Or, if you want to best of both worlds Mt. Wellington Descent do bike tours that drive you to the top of the mountain where you descend the marvellous mountain by bike. www.mtwellingtondescent.com.au
Visiting Mount Wellington when you first arrive to Hobart is a great way to get acquainted with the city’s landmarks and local islands from a bird’s eye view. You will be blown away (both metaphorically and physically) by its beauty and wind, pack warm clothes because this peak is usually capped with ice.
Visit the markets
Salamaca Markets are by far one of the most famous markets in Australia, and it is no wonder why. Stretching over the areas many streets, there are more stalls than you can poke a sausage at (and there are plenty of those too!). Once you weave through the maze, you will notice all stalls are proudly Tasmanian, whether they are knitted beanies, soups, wood cutting boards and other arts and crafts you will notice they are all proudly Tasmania, and why wouldn’t they be? If art and craft isn’t your thing you might enjoy the vintage clothes stalls, fresh produce and some amazingly talented buskers. Salamanca Markets run every Saturday of the year (www.salamanca.com.au).
If you’re a food fanatic or looking for somewhere to eat on a Sunday (sadly, most eateries around the city are closed), you must head to the Farm Gate Markets (farmgatemarket.com.au) to ogle over the beautiful colours of the veggies, buy organic tea and artisan bread, or if you want something on the spot there coffee and juices vendors as well as people selling a range of sweets and savoury snacks. And there is no need to travel too far to enjoy Tasmania’s largest farmer’s market, they happen right in the heart of the CBD!
Admire the Art
Gambling guru and art lover, called David Walsh has open his private art collection to the world in an underground gallery nestled onto the banks of the Derwent River and has named it MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). You can navigate your way through the many levels with your own personal iPod guide and get lost in the ancient relic exhibitions or laugh at the modern art including an overweight Ferrari symbolising modern day consumerism or the “Poo Machine” which releases itself at 2pm everyday…. I suggest eating before you see this one! Speaking of eating, you can get lunch from the wine bar that sells sensation cheese boards and the museums own Moo Brew beers or Moorilla wine, or the BBQ they cook on the green each Saturday throughout the warmer months, and of course, the famous Source restaurant (more on that below!). www.mona.net.au
Being home to the one of the best arts schools in Australia, Hobart is full of interesting and un-and-coming creative types who showcase their work around the city. To see some of the best local collections head to Salamanca Arts Centre (www.sac.org.au), a creative hub for dance, theatre and visual arts and numerous galleries. Over the course of a year, more than 6000 artists are represented herethrough numerous performances and exhibitions, so you won’t be short of entertainment! Or head to the other side of the harbour to Henry Jones Design Centre, here you will find an exciting showcase of the finest pieces of Tasmanian Art and Craft, featuring work in furniture design, sculpture, ceramics, glass, jewellery and Tasmanian wood (www.henryjonesdesign.com.au).
This historical, picturesque little city is best seen by foot, and thankfully you don’t ever have to walk too far to get from one place to another. The best starting point would be Salamanca’s water front and working your way up to Hobart’s oldest suburb, Battery Point, which has the highest density of heritage listed buildings in the country. You will be amazed by beauty of it’s quaint architecture and how much this area looks like it has been ripped out of a picture book. From there, walk down to Sandy Bay, one of Hobart’s most affluent areas which is home to beautiful bsitros, boutiques and premier real estate by the water. Then walk around back to the City’s water’s edge. This will lead you all the way to the botanical gardens and around the North Hobart where you can weave in and out of the CBD’s streets and do some shopping along the way.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
To find the perfect place for a coffee, breakfast, snack or lunch you can read my blog post about Hobart’s Best Cafes.
Ethos Eat Drink:
Tucked away in one of Hobart’s oldest builders in the middle of the CBD, Ethos is the perfect place to unwind either in its cosy dining room inside, or in its sunny courtyard. They take their food very seriously here and no detail goes overlooked. The many changes daily depending on the season what ingredients are the freshest. You can opt for a drink with share plates like a pork san choy bow or chickpeas with chilli accompanied by some of the best homemade bread and butter I have ever had. But the real highlight here is the “Feed Me” plate – this will cost you $65 per person and will have you full of some of the Hobart’s best food over a few courses.
Ethos Eat Drink – 100 Elizabeth Street – Hobart, TAS
The name of this restaurant has a dual meaning; firstly it is the name of the stunning John Olsen painting you are greeted with when walking into the restaurant within the MONA museum, and secondly, all the produce used to make the phenomenal food is sourced locally. With views over MONA’s grounds and the Derwent River, this is the perfect place to relax after a morning filled with art, or a special occasion. The food is French inspired, fine dining at its best and absolutely delicious. The crab raviolo is a little pocket of heaven and an appropriate interlude for the spring lamb with peas accompanied by the best, butteriest, most beautiful mashed potato to ever cross my lips (and there have been a lot, trust me!)
The Source – 655 Main Road, Berridale – Hobart, TAS
This trendy wine bar and former garage is where ex Tetsuya’s and Noma (best restaurant in the world) chef Luke Burgess is serving up some of the city’s most talked about food. You don’t get much bang for buck here with a tiny piece of beef served with boiled lettuce costing a whopping $42! The food seems to be all talk (complex and fine details) and not enough action (fairly flavourless considering the hype and price). But the venue and wine list (or more appropriately wine book featuring wines from across the globe) are impressive and definitely worth the visit.
103 Murray Street – Hobart, TAS
The New Sydney Hotel
You know a pub is good when both visitors and locals fall in love with it, especially when it is “Tasmania’s Best Small Pub”. With old fashion pub charm, memorabilia adorning every square centimetre on the wall and blazing log fires, it is easy to feel at home and ready to let you hair down. The live music brings the place to life and fills the dance floor quicker than you can say ‘pint please’. The food is also a draw card; you can find great quality pub food such as chicken parmigana and steaks.
The New Sydney Hotel – 87 Bathurst St – Hobart, TA
Grape Bar & Tapas
In prime position along Salamanca’s famous strip of bars and restaurants, Gap Bar& Tapas is the cream of the crop. You can choose to sit outside and watch the world go by or inside for a more private, intimate social occasion. Either way, you can enjoy their tapas menu and impressive drinks list featuring an array of home grown wines and ciders, a perfect place for an afternoon drink or a place to settle in and drink the night away.
Grape Bar & Tapas – 55 Salamanca Sq – Hobart, TAS
The Brunswick Hotel
The Brunswick Hotel is a quintessential gastro pub done perfectly! The atmosphere is incredibly warm, and so are the friendly staff. You can enjoy a great meal in the dining room like the hand rolled herb pasta with mushrooms, baby leeks, hazelnuts and gruyere, a lamb burgers, pork belly or a traditional bangers and mash. On weekends you can find an acoustic guitarist and singer to entertain you while you settle into a few craft beers in this beautiful, historic venue.
The Brunswick Hotel – 67 Liverpool Street – Hobart, TAS
A DAY TRIP
Freycinet National Park
Whether you love nature or you’re ambivalent to it, I guarantee you will fall in love with this part of the world in an instant. Home to the world famous Wine Glass Bay, the whole park is an untouched, ruggered sanctuary filled with crystal clear beaches, rolling mountains and wildlife. Depending on your fitness, enthusiasm and time constraints, you can pick a number of different walking trails ranging from 40 mins to 5 hours.
If adventure by foot isn’t your cup of tea, you can jump on board a 4-wheeler for a whole or half day tour with All 4 Adventures (www.all4adventure.com.au). Or if in the air is more of your fare, you can take a scenic seaplane tour with Tasmanian Air Adventures –http://tasmanianairadventures.affiliatenation.com.au/.
During the warmer months is it definitely worth packing a picnic and your swimmers. Or if fine dining is more up your alley, stop off at Palate Saffire Freycinet restaurant for an incredible meal while enjoying one of Tasmania’s most breath taking views.
Freycinet National Park is a 2.5 hour drive from Hobart, and it is one of the most scenic drives I have ever been on with skills lakes, quint seaside villages and rolling hills covered in wineries to keep you entertained on your journey. If you are tempted to stop drop by Kate’s berry farm for some hiking snacks, or Tasmania’s oldest seaside town, Swansea, and visit Banc for dinner, one of Tasmania’s finest regional restaurants. Banc serves fresh, regional produce matched with some of Tasmania’s finest wine (www.thebancrestaurant.com.au).
WHERE TO STAY
Henry Jones Art Hotel
What was once the IXL jam factory is now the Henry Jones Art Hotel on Hobart’s historic waterfront, the hotel is home to more than 300 local artworks and its rooms are a perfect blend of historic charm with a modern twist – www.thehenryjones.com.
There is enough to see and do at MONA, it could be a holiday in itself. So if you love art, great views or a comfy bed, the pavilions are the place for you and are luxury accommodation at its best – www.mona.net.au/mona/accommodation/the-pavilions
Grand Mecure Hadley’s Hotel
This refurbished hotel in the heart of the CBD is on the intersection of Australia where every building on it is an original. The rooms are huge, comfortable and have views overlooking the CBD and Hobart’s water front; you couldn’t pick a more prime position! (grandmercurehadleyshotel.com.au).