It wasn’t until about two years ago that the travel bug to visit Tasmania and specifically Hobart struck. Truth be told, up until then, Tasmania wasn’t even on the travel list! With the opening of MONA the international art scene (and myself) took notice, firmly placing Hobart on the visitors map. Tasmania however has much more to offer than a trip to the iconic and controversial art gallery. The farm to table approach to food and the abundance of beautiful natural vistas are just another two reasons you need to take that trip across the Straight, right now!
We had decided to take a sneaky long weekend during the Melbourne Cup last year to Hobart. To properly explore the region you need more than the three and a half days that we had allocated, however it was still a tantalising glimpse of all that Tasmania has to offer. We had booked an AirBnB, which was walking distance from the city centre of Hobart . It was a quaint little cottage perched above shopfronts with multiple rooms and was perfect for our needs!
Hiring a car is the best way to explore all that the surrounding area of Hobart has to offer. The drive from the airport to the centre of the city is relatively short and easy. The roads are also all well maintained.
We drove to the top of Mount Wellington (Kunanyi) and spent quite a bit of time awed by the view of the Derwent River and Hobart below us. At the summit of Mount Wellington, a thin layer of snow was still visible in November, which is actually the Australian Spring everywhere else in the country! A small discovery centre sits perched at the summit and provides information on the local flora and fauna as well as the surrounding scenery. We were lucky enough to see a rock wallaby at the top of the summit.
Home Hill Winery, Huon Valley
After a short summit walk on Mount Wellington we drove to the Huon Valley for lunch at Home Hill Winery. The drive from the top of the mountain into the valley took 40 minutes, during the drive we were surrounded by verdant farmland scenery. Home Hill winery had a restaurant which was low key affair, although was bustling with people for Sunday lunch. There were a variety of food options on the menu including fish, quail and vegetarian dishes. We ordered the fish which was ok, although the chicken was the stand out favourite. The wines however were fantastic, we ended up buying one of their pinots to take home!
Willie Smiths Shed, Huon Valley
On the way back into Hobart we stopped off at Willie Smiths Shed to try some of their organic apple cider. We decided to order one of their cider tasting paddles to try their different ciders. The classic cider was a personal favourite! it was a dry style of cider. We had a leisurely hour sipping on cider and experiencing the festive ambience of the venue. The barnyard style bar was full to the brim with people, whilst a live country band belted out tunes!
The day after our trip to the Huon Valley we headed to MONA. We had a car so decided to drive to the gallery. Although, a ferry option from the Hobart waterfront is also available if you want to arrive in style! The gallery itself is massive and there is a lot to do and see here, you could spend a whole day exploring the world of modern art. Although a few hours will suffice as well. The thing about the artwork at MONA is that it all evokes an emotional response, sometimes one of discomfort rather than awe.
There are so many different exhibits to see, my favourite ones were the more interactive exhibits were you immerse yourself in the art or even add to the artwork on display. The gallery has a changing roster of exhibits so its worth checking out whats new before your trip.
Whilst at MONA we decided to take a sneaky pit stop to try Tasmania’s famous Sullivan’s Cove single malt whiskey at MONA’s Void Bar. This bar is located in the shadowy depths of the gallery! Its the perfect pitstop for drinks and snacks before commencing your art expedition. The food options at MONA are also pretty good they have their own restaurant as well as a number of eateries for either a quick snack or relaxed meal. We opted for a quick lunch at the Museum Cafe which was fantastic!
Whenever we told people we were heading to Hobart for a long weekend, the number one thing to do on everyones list was to visit the Salamanca Market. This is an open air market on Salamanca Place, near the Hobart waterfront. We arrived to the market just as it had started raining, although all the stall holders were still open and welcomed everyone.
The market is a treasure trove of boutique and craft items, kitschy Australiana souvenirs, and of course food – fabulous food! After having a browse through all the items on sale we decided to splurge on food! We ordered some freshly shucked Bruny Island oysters, had some fantastic German sausages with sauerkraut and were even able to sample a hot non-alcoholic apple cider, which was perfect for the cold and dreary weather.
Things to do around Hobart
Some of the other historical things you can do around Hobart include driving through Battery Point. The suburb is located on a promontory off the Hobart docks where a ‘battery’ of guns used to be housed to protect the city from attack. This is Hobart’s oldest suburb, its possible to spend half a day in this area, viewing colonial architecture, houses and shops.
You can also walk down to Hobart’s waterfront from the city centre. The waterfront has many eateries and is also the place where the cruise to MONA departs. It is a really serene area with beautiful views of the river and Hobart city. There are countless eateries along the waterfront as well as floating fish punts lined up on Constitution Dock where you can order the mandatory seaside order of fish and chips.
The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens are located close to MONA. We visited the gardens on our way back from the art gallery. During our trip we were able to learn a lot about the native plants of Tasmania and their adaptations to the local climate. The Botanic Gardens also hosts on site a sub-antarctic plant house to help educate the public about this fragile ecosystem. Beware! Its cold inside.
There are also plenty of day tours possible from Hobart. Trips to Bruny Island, Freycinet National Park, Port Arthur and the Tasman peninsula are also possible. They just require a little planing ahead of time. Alternatively, there are many tour operators who have stalls at the Salamanca Market to make the booking tours super easy and from the one spot!
Hobart’s food scene is pretty impressive, you won’t be disappointed with the majority of food options as the city embraces the farm to table philosophy whole heartedly. We found multiple boutique coffee shops within the inner city. Capulus espresso and Small-Fry cafe were located right near our Air BnB. Capulus had multiple locations in Hobart and offered a boutique coffee experience, whereas Small-Fry was a small cafe serving great coffee and breakfast food. We also tried Yellow Bernard which was located in the cbd and was a perfect place to pick up quality coffee on the go.
Tasmania is also renowned for its specialty whiskey and is even home to the world’s best single cask whiskey for 2018: Sullivan’s Cove American Oak Single Cask. During our time in Hobart we were able to sample some of Sullivan Cove’s fantastic whiskey at the MONA bar. We also visited Lark Distillery, a whiskey distillery located in the cbd that has been making Tasmanian whiskey since 1992. The distillery opens its doors at night and serves a variety of their whiskey as well as other alcoholic drinks. The atmosphere here is very relaxed and laidback, and the staff are incredibly knowledgable about their whiskey. We opted to do the whiskey tasting flight whilst sitting by the fireside.
One of the quintessential Hobart things to do is to eat a scallop pie down by the harbour. B was initially sceptical about this, however I was determined to try this Tasmanian classic! This is a fisherman’s meal where freshly caught scallops are cooked in curried sauce and are then encased in pastry, before being baked in the oven. The pies are served everywhere by the harbour in restaurants and in fish and chip shops. For the gourmet scallop pies though you may need to travel to local bakeries. I bought this one from one of the floating fish punts on Constitution Dock by the waterfront.
We had wanted to eat at Urban Greek a restaurant located a short distance from our Airbnb however we hadn’t booked a table ahead of time and weren’t able to get a table. We ended up ordering some fantastic take away to eat back at our accomodation instead. This restaurant is definitely worth a visit if you are keen on greek food, whilst in Hobart.
We also went to an uber hip and broody, Mexican restaurant called Pancho Villa in the North Hobart neighbourhood. We had to drive 20 mins or so, to get to this restaurant however it definitely was worth it. The moody interior decor highlighted the fantastic food and their extensive tequila menu.
- MONA is definitely worth a visit for the architecture, the art and the food options.
- Whilst in Hobart visiting the Huon Valley is a nice way to experience farm to table cuisine
- The people of Hobart take their coffee seriously, definitely try and visit a coffee shop
- Tasmania has banned plastic bags, this means that you will either receive a paper bag or you will need to buy a reusable bag when doping your grocery shopping. It pays to be prepared and shop with re-useable bags
- Its possible to do hikes or cycling around Mount Wellington so definitely look into these options if you want an outdoor adventure during your time in Hobart