AUSTRALIA, TA: Hobart’s Half Dozen TreasuresNot unexpectedly on any long, good-weather weekend you’ll find a plethora of Victorians spending their carefree days wandering the shops, gift stores, outdoor markets, art galleries, waterfront attractions, fine restaurants, cafes and world class museums that Hobart is rightly famous for. Just a short flight from Melbourne, it makes a perfect hop, skip and jump for Kiwis wanting to visit Tasmania.
WORDS and IMAGES: ©Shane Boocock 2014
Not unexpectedly on any long, good-weather weekend you’ll find a plethora of Victorians spending their carefree days wandering the shops, gift stores, outdoor markets, art galleries, waterfront attractions, fine restaurants, cafes and world class museums that Hobart is rightly famous for. After all it’s just a short and relatively inexpensive flight from Melbourne, so it also makes a perfect hop, skip and jump for New Zealanders wanting to visit Tasmania.
Not many Kiwis would know it but the capital city of Hobart, home to nearly 200,000 people, is the second-driest capital city in Australia, receiving about half as much rain as Sydney. Hobart has a look and feel about it that reminds me of Wellington without the weather. This city is very pleasing on the eye, bustling and full of historic buildings that seem to have been converted with the future in mind. The mountain backdrop and the River Derwent estuary all add to the pleasure this city gives to its residents and numerous visitors, including those New Zealanders who are visiting Hobart for the first time, especially people wanting to visit the spectacular Museum of Old and New Art: MONA.
To whet your appetite here are a few of the main ingredients that make up a main course menu of all the best that Hobart has to offer.
Salamanca Markets is this year celebrating its 40th anniversary and by the looks of it, the market is still going from strength to strength. Located in Salamanca Place just adjacent to Hobart’s spectacular waterfront, the 200 or so stall holders in the market offer a tempting range of eclectic goods, so look out for: Tasmanian specialty crafted timbers, tasty leatherwood honey, hand-knitted woollen wear, art and crafts, vegetables and local produce such as fine cheeses and chocolate truffles, with some second-hand goods stalls selling vintage clothing, old LPs and obscure books. The area was once under water but was reclaimed in the 1830s using convict labour. Many of the fine old original waterfront Georgian warehouses stand alongside the market housing galleries, cafes, restaurants and some classic Tasmanian taverns . . . just the place to sample local ales. The market is open from 8.30am to 3pm every Saturday.
Lark Whisky Distillery: If you fancy the odd tipple, here are two spots to indulge. Lark Distillery was the first licensed distillery in Tasmania way back in 1839. It was established to produce Tasmanian malt whisky, rich in character with a big finish using Tasmanian ingredients – all day tours are available including lunch. Set back about a block from Hobart’s waterfront, the Lark Cellar Door and Whisky Bar is a whisky lover’s paradise offering tastings, souvenirs and about 130 types of whisky including a range of rare malt whiskies. The Cascade Brewery is for beer aficionados so prepare to be barrelled over on one of their ‘brewery hops’ tours followed by a refreshing cold pint. Cascade started from an unlikely place - the Old Hobart Gaol. Serving time for not paying his debts to England, Peter Degraves felt there was something more to the Cascade streams. It was there, in his cell that he drew up the designs for the Cascade brewery. Once freed, he rolled up his sleeves and made his vision come to life. It is the oldest continually operating brewery in Australia that stated life in 1832. The two hour Cascade Brewery tours happen daily – don’t miss one.
MONA: This labyrinth home of Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart is carved into the foreshore stone of the Derwent River. This ambitious A$80 million development has been described as shocking, amusing, offensive, disturbing, thought provoking and somewhat beautiful depending on your point of view. Whatever you think, the 400,000 visitors who slide through the front door every year all have different opinions. If you don’t want to drive for A$20 you can also catch a ferry to or from the Brooke Street Pier Terminal in downtown Hobart. MONA opening hours are Wed-Mon 10am-5pm.
Hobart Harbour Kayaking: There is only one way to see Hobart from a different perspective and that’s out on the water in a kayak. It’s a wonderful way to explore the hidden coves and backwater bays that dot this city’s waterfront. So step off the street and pick up a paddle! On this relaxed, two-hour tour you’ll experience a journey of fun, serenity and some spectacular scenery. Gliding across the waters of the Derwent Estuary, you’ll follow Hobart’s shoreline to explore historic Battery Point, vibrant Salamanca and the bustling docks of the city’s waterfront.
Learn about Tasmania’s historic capital from your experienced guides as you weave among tall ships, working fishing boats, sleek yachts and modern cruisers. Finally, work up an appetite in time to enjoy some of Hobart’s legendary fish and chips straight from a dockside fish punt. Hobart Paddle is the perfect way to discover Hobart’s true maritime nature. Morning trips start at 10:30am, Twilight Paddle times varies seasonally.
Peppermint Bay Day Trip: On this journey you can be assured of a relaxing, rejuvenating and rewarding day discovering some of Hobart’s hidden secrets on board the luxurious 23m catamaran. The Peppermint Bay Cruise takes in the harbour, the River Derwent and the magnificent waters of the d'Entrecasteaux Channel. The trip leaving Hobart’s waterfront at 11am on through to the sheltered southern waterways of Peppermint Bay, in the Huon/Channel region of Tasmania. You’ll first cruise beneath the high arch of the Tasman Bridge where via underwater cameras, see the wreck of the ore carrier that collided with the bridge more than 30 years ago. The voyage takes in secluded bays, tranquil seaside towns, dramatic coastline and deeply forested hills. On this trip you’ll learn about Tasmania’s rich colonial and maritime history. Lunch is at Peppermint Bay overlooking the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island.
Mountain Biking Down Mount Wellington: Rising to a height of 1,270m, Mt Wellington is a spectacular and panoramic backdrop for the city of Hobart. From the top you’ll see magnificent 360 degree views of inlets, bays and the hills around Hobart all the way to the Derwent Valley on down to the Southern Ocean and across to the Tasman Peninsula are spread out in a stunning panorama. After a practice ride at the summit it’s all downhill from here. From subalpine terrain to magnificent forest the winding mountain road takes you back down to the foothills. For the adventurous at heart, riders can choose the option to experience the thrill of an ‘off-road section’ with a winding, twisting, undulating trail. The journey finishes back on the vibrant Hobart Waterfront (duration 2.5 hours). Departures: 10am and 1pm daily (4pm during January & February). All trips depart Brooke Street Pier. Bookings essential and minimum numbers apply.
Whatever outdoor adventure you choose, Hobart has the ability to deliver a remarkable experience . . . a truly overlooked treasured Aussie hotspot.
Shane Boocock travelled to Tasmania courtesy of Tourism Tasmania: W www.discovertasmania.co.nz
Getting there: Air New Zealand fly daily to either Melbourne or Sydney. Their partner airline Virgin Australia offer onward flights to Hobart via both cities. There are also daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.
Salamanca Markets W: www.salamanca.com.au
Lark Whisky Distillery W: www.larkdistillery.com.au
The Cascade Brewery W: www.cascadebreweryco.com.au
MONA W: www.mona.net.au
Hobart Harbour Kayaking W: www.hobartadventures.com.au
Peppermint Bay Day Trip W: www.peppermintbay.com.au
Mountain Biking Down Mount Wellington W: www.mtwellingtondescent.com.au
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