Spend a weekend devoted to modern art, gourmet food and beautiful scenery, plus you’ll return home with a touch of Australian ‘cultural cred’.
Nestled in the foothills of Mt Wellington is the sparkling harbour-side city of Hobart. The unassuming old town has, in recent years, become one of the hottest travel destinations in the country. The renaissance of the historic Tasmanian capital has been dubbed ‘The MONA Effect’, with flocks of curious tourists arriving by sea or by plane to visit the leading-edge cultural icon. After MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) was opened by David Walsh in 2011, the provocative art gallery has been a talking point ever since. MONA may have been the catalyst for many to take interest in the tiny island off the coast of mainland Australia, but it’s the previously overlooked charm of Hobart that’s winning travellers over – the shimmering waterfront, a cluster of trendy cafes and restaurants that showcase bountiful local produce, stylish art hotels, historic neighbourhoods with hidden laneways, boutique galleries, craft shops and a famous outdoor market set amongst the sandstone warehouses of Salamanca Place.
SEE & DO
Salamanca Markets on Saturday
Salamanca Markets is one of Australia’s best outdoor markets. With over 300 stalls lined up along the historic warehouses at Salamanca Place, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Stalls bursting with artisanal food, local delicacies, fresh produce, sweet-smelling flowers, touristy tit-bits or Tasmanian art and craft.Get there early before the crowds, and follow you nose to the freshly brewing coffee. Armed with a cup and a homemade pastry, spend a few hours meandering the market and meeting the friendly producers.You must stop by local artisan cheese maker Bruny Island Cheese Co. and pick up a few of their gooey soft cheeses and accompanying fig paste to take a taste of Tassie home. Lively musicians play folk songs in the nearby square, adding to the lively pulse of the morning.
MONA (The Museum of Old and New Art)
A trip to Hobart would be incomplete without visiting The Museum of Old and New Art, which has been enticing travellers to Tasmania since its grand opening in 2011. Its unusual architectural presence along the cliffs along the Berriedale Peninsula intrigues guests as they alight from the MONA ferry. It’s a cavernous, mostly underground design adds to its subversive presence, whilst the modern art will certainly elicit varying responses from its spectators. Whilst there, enjoy lunch at The Source or a wine tasting at the renowned Moorilla cellar door (yes, of course MONA even has an impressive on-site vineyard).
Explore Salamanca Square and harbour
Explore Salamanca Square where rows of picturesque sandstone townhouses have been converted into cafes, bars and boutique shops. Tricycle Café is a great little nook for coffee or brunch.
Be sure to peruse Tasmanian design in our favourite store The Maker set in the old arcade. Then, meander down to the harbour to admire the historic buildings, piers and docks. Stop for some fish and chips from one of the floating seafood barges, but do be prepared to share with the seagulls.
This old maritime neighbourhood offers heritage character and cute streets with colonial-era cottages to explore. Potter along Hampden Road, sample tea from the charming Pollen Tea Room, peruse second hand pieces at Kookaburra Books and be sure to pick up some baked goods from Jackman and McRoss to enjoy a picnic on the grass at nearby Arthur Circus.
Experience a touch of wilderness only a 20-minute drive from Hobart. Make the effort to hike Mount Wellington and be rewarded with sensational views over Hobart and Southern Tasmania.
The Source at MONA
After a morning contemplating modern art it’s time to relax over a meal at the museum’s stellar culinary offering. This swanky on-site restaurant is a superb lunchtime destination complete with white table clothes and a formidable cheese trolley.
Enjoy the river views with an award-winning glass of wine in hand and a contemporary French a la carte menu to choose from. Surprisingly, at a museum where expectations are challenged around every corner, the menu stays quite true to classic French form. The dishes certainly aren’t as experimental as the art, but something more predictable might be just what we need.
Smolt is within easy walking distance from the famous Salamanca Market. A quick glance through the menu and you’ll notice Italian and Spanish influences amongst thoughtful selection of tapas, gourmet pizzas, house-made pastas and heavy mains. It’s rare to find a menu that would be equally pleasing to carnivores and vegetarians alike, and this might just be the ticket. The desserts compliment the menu, with traditional sweets such as crème catalan. There’s a notable selection of Mediterranean and Tasmanian wines.
Providore by Ethos
Set in a converted 1820s stable yard along Elizabeth Street, Providore serves Modern Australian cuisine with style that could rival any Melbourne joint. It is indeed one of the most on-trend restaurants in town, with an ethos best described as ‘farm-to-fork fare’ that is reflected in the restaurateurs close connection with artisan suppliers. Plus, they even grow fresh food onsite in the herb garden tucked away in the charming courtyard. There’s no dinner ‘menu’ as such – just six courses designed for that specific day. The more casual lunchtime set-up is canteen style – select your own combo from a lip-smacking smorgasbord of fresh, healthy dishes. The coffee is spot on, and if you fancy dessert pop next door to Vita (also by Ethos) for the fanciest fro-yo you’ll ever try.
Jackman & McRoss
The smell of baked goods wafts down the lane at this neighbourhood bakery-cafe. The array of flaky pastries, golden baked pies, loaves of crusty bread, tarts, cakes, slices and meringues piled high will have you wanting to stay for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Tuck into one of their famous savoury pies and you won’t regret it.
Daci and Daci Bakers
European-style bakery, viennoiserie and coffee house is another quality spot for a coffee, some lunch or a sweet treat. The elegant selection of pastries and cakes are made with real butter, free-range eggs, seasonal berries and Belgium chocolate. European favourites are temptingly presented behind the glass cabinet. Feast your eyes over the croissants, tarte tartin, madeleines, Portuguese tarts, ricotta cheesecake, apple streusel, éclairs, macarons and crème brulee. They also have a proper breakfast and lunchtime menu for something more substantial, and a decent wine list for those wanting to linger.
This upscale boutique hotel exudes both charm and comfort. It’s somewhat like having a guest room in a grand mansion, with a touch of personal luxe – an Ipad, up-to-date magazines, tea by T2 and Aesop toiletries provided for your stay.
During your stay do take time to explore the communal quarters crammed with fine art and antiques, and even find a good book to read in the lounge room. Meanwhile, The Islington Kitchen sits in a glasshouse by the garden, in the evenings it’s a warm, convivial experience a touch more personal your typical restaurant.
In the morning the atrium is flooded with sunshine and reveals gorgeous views of Mount Wellington. This tranquil location is ideal for a spot of brekkie before a day of sightseeing.
Henry Jones Art Hotel
This converted jam factory in a prime location along Hobart’s beautiful waterfront was one of the first ‘art hotels’ in Australia. The hotel exhibits contemporary work by local artists, most of which is for sale. Henry Jones remains one of the most sought after places to stay amongst the creative crowds that visit MONA. The warehouse style structure, designer elements and heritage touches make it a unique luxury experience. The unusually spacious rooms blend the historic structure with modern amenities and some have lovely views of the waterfront.
It’s also in a convenient location for accessing Hobart’s main sights, only a stroll to Salamanca Markets or the wharf for the MONA ferry. Wander around the waterfront and you may even spot a few seals frolicking about.
Sneak in a nightcap downstairs at the chic bar where bearded bartenders will make you some seriously respectable cocktails.
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