I have been to Tasmania a few times over the years to immerse myself in its natural beauty. It has great hiking trails and eco tours that are second to none. More recently though, I went down for different reasons – Christmas and presents…. I mean family. Christmas and family. And food. And wine.
I really like Hobart. Old buildings, small town charm and delicious local produce. As much of the city is based around the Derwent River, it also has a real nautical feel to it. As a water baby, that makes me feel at home.
There are many great places to visit down there but the five stand out places for me are:
1. MONA (The Museum of Old and New Art)
This privately owned museum is only a fifteen minute drive or half an hour ferry ride from the centre of town. As you drive in, you immediately realise that it is more than just a building with exhibition pieces inside. MONA has its own vineyard which it uses to produce wine for its restaurant and bar (they also brew their own beer – Moo Brew. The wine is Moorilla Wine. Both are distributed throughout Australia too if you would like to try it).
Wandering through the vineyards are wild rabbits, guinea fowl and even a peacock! Then there’s the outdoor art pieces like the wooden triangle huts (which probably have a much more exotic name) and the steel, life sized truck statue. All of this before you even make it to the ticket box!
Once inside, a glass elevator takes you down three levels, deep into the sandstone structure to begin your journey through the exhibition. There is a wide variety of pieces, themes and artists to get your mind running wild. The standouts for me were what I call the Wall of Vaginas (~72 plaster casts of real vaginas of which my fiancé proudly stood for photos next to with a Cheshire cat grin. And just to put that into perspective, he NEVER smiles in photos) and the light that turned into words when you caught it with your peripheral vision.
Allow yourself three hours to have a good look around the museum.
2. Lark Cellar Door & Whiskey Bar
Situated on the waterfront in the centre of town, this modest meeting spot hosts some of the best whiskey to ever pass your lips. The bar holds over 150 different premium malt whiskeys for you to try (probably not all in one go, but it’s your life – do what makes you happy).
Lark runs distillery tours and whiskey classes for those wanting to learn more about their products and whiskey in general. My suggestion is to eat before you go – some of the spirits have a very high alcohol content and having a lined stomach could help maintain your dignity throughout your visit.
If you aren’t a fan of whiskey, they also produce a fine gin and a rum. Tasmanian beer, wine and cider are available, as is coffee, cheese platters and bar snacks.
3. Salamanca Market
Held every Saturday morning at Salamanca Place, the markets are home to some of Tasmania’s finest food, alcohol and craft. Whether it’s fresh seafood, exceptional cheese, colourful and tasty produce, rich deserts, creative brews or fun treats, you are after, you will find it there.
The markets also have plenty of different handmade trinkets and gift ideas for people who aren’t so blown away by food. The best thing about the markets though, is just the pleasant atmosphere. Take your time to stroll around and talk to the friendly locals. Take in the sights and sounds while getting some incidental exercise and fresh air. A top Saturday morning out!
4. Sandy bay
Sandy Bay is only a ten minute drive, directly south of the Hobart central business district. (Are you picking up a theme here about how close everything is in this city?!). The waterfront has a calm little sandy beach (who would have thought?) which you can walk along, take in the scenery or if you are brave, take a dip.
I’m not going to lie to you here – the water is bloody cold. And that is in the middle of summer. But if it’s refreshing you are after, or to dust off the cobwebs from the night before (which may or may not have been my motivation), you’ll get it from taking a dip at Sandy Bay.
5. Coal River Farm
This new restaurant in Coal River Valley has only been open for a few months but it has already made a name for itself. Offering modern Australian cuisine with all ingredients sourced from the valley in which it is situated, this place is a shining example of sustainable dining. The menu changes with the seasons to utilise whatever is growing and being produced nearby.Chocolate is also produced onsite and if you are lucky, you could probably secretly get more than one free taste tester. (Alright maybe I was more sneaky than lucky – I just waited until the lady behind the counter turned her back each time.)
The entire venue has a lovely, family friendly atmosphere and there is plenty of space outside for the kids to run wild. It is the perfect place to get the quintessential Tasmanian food and wine experience that Tasmania is famous for.
Have you been to Hobart? What’s your favourite spot?