3 Days in Hobart

25 March 2014

Australia’s southernmost and second oldest capital is by no means a wallflower when it comes to a weekend away. This cool little capital and core of the Apple Isle has been quietly perfecting its balance of historic and modern charms, polishing up its nightlife scene and making sure its cafe menus show off all things truly 'Tassie'. After patiently biding its time and letting other cities steal the limelight, it's finally Hobart's time to shine.

Often on the receiving end of playful taunts from its mainland siblings, the laughter has quickly subsided as non-Taswegians come to realise what they’ve been missing out on – boutique hotels and breweries, world-class galleries and gourmet experiences, and a mellow lifestyle that underpins the island culture. With the Easter break just around the corner, why not hop across the Strait and see why this colonial capital is suddenly all the rage?

 Sullivan's Cove in the afternoon glow

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Day 1

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Morning

Much like the rest of Tasmania, Hobart’s convict heritage is one of its defining features. The city has some of the most impressive sandstone structures found anywhere in Australia, like its grand Town Hall, Salamanca warehouses and the settlement-era cottages of Arthur Circus. Kick off your 72 hours in Hobart by stepping back in time with a stroll through Battery Point, admiring the sea-farers’ pubs of yesteryear, the workers quarters reborn as quaint B&Bs and historic Kelly’s Steps that take you through to bustling Salamanca. Adjacent to Salamanca Place flanking Sullivans Cove is Castray Esplanade, well-known as the final destination of Hobart's most iconic event – the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Afternoon / Evening

Nobody puts the ‘art’ in Hobart quite like MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art. After shaking things up on the Australian artscape for around four years, MONA continues to lure visitors up the River Derwent with promises of avant garde contemporary exhibits and some priceless antiquities thrown in for good measure. This afternoon, make your way down to Hobart's Brooke Street ferry terminal and take a gentle cruise to the Berriedale Peninsula, where you will be welcomed into a so-called ‘subversive adult Disneyland’. Everyone has a different experience at MONA – and that’s the point.

Even if you’re not an art aficionado, you will still appreciate the space’s arresting modern architecture, which contrasts nicely against much of Hobart’s heritage facades. Built into the side of toothy cliffs, the largely underground MONA hosts everything from large-scale artistic expressions to annual festivals, summertime markets and wine tastings at the adjoining Moorilla Winery. After you’ve had your fill of high culture, hang around after hours for degustation dining at The Source restaurant or a local Moo Brew as you sink into the Wine Bar’s beanbags.

 MONA's stunning southern facade at dawn

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Day 2

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Morning / Afternoon

If Tasmania is the fruit bowl of Australia, then Hobart is its serving platter laden with shiny red apples, juicy stone fruit and Blue Gum honey spun from the state’s floral emblem. Saturday morning in Hobart is very much centred on Salamanca Place and its namesake markets. Even Princess Mary of Denmark, a native Hobartian, can sometimes be spotted browsing the local wares when she’s not busy with her royal duties abroad. Around 300 stalls pop up each weekend, with artisans pushing their paddock-to-plate organic eats, perfumed bunches of fresh lavender and beautifully made handcrafts.

Hobart is cashing in on its newfound cultural cache and nowhere is it more apparent than in the Salamanca precinct. Even when the markets aren’t in full swing (Saturday from 08:300 to 15:00), you can easily spend half a day taking in all the sights, sounds and flavours among the 1930s Georgian warehouses. Some of the best places to indulge your inner foodie are Pigeon Hole, Zum and nearby Machine Laundry Cafe.

Evening

Hobart has been paying close attention to its nearest capital counterpart (Melbourne) when it comes to nightlife, displaying a fondness for small-scale bars and laneway hideaways. The latest craze to sweep through the city is that of the cosy whisky joint, with Tasmanian distillers Nant and Lark serving their liquid gold on Wooby’s Lane and Davey Street respectively (Tassie’s single malts rank among the best in the world, just FYI). If scotch isn’t your poison, Knopwoods has 14 beers and ciders on tap, Sidecar seats a dozen dedicated wine lovers and the Henry Jones Art Hotel’s IXL Long Bar is ideal for harbour-view happy hour.

 A feast for the senses at the Salamanca Market

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Day 3

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Morning

Sundays provide a second chance at market-going thanks to the Farm Gate Market on Melville Street. It may not have the hype of Salamanca, but the seasonal produce is picked the night before so you’re guaranteed the cream of the crop. In Autumn, be on the lookout for figs from Richmond, Raspberries from Cradoc, Hazelnuts from Hagley and Cygnet’s specialty dried apple rings.

If you’re well over-indulged with fresh food, walk it off along the South Hobart Rivulet walk – a two-kilometre riverside trail leading to the base of Mount Wellington and the Heritage-listed Cascade Female Factory. If you haven’t had the chance to visit Port Arthur (just over an hour’s drive from Hobart) but still want to learn about the state’s convict past, the Female Factory sheds light on the lesser known stories of women and children inmates.

Afternoon / Evening

While you’re in the area, while away the afternoon al fresco at Mt Wellington, whose foothills are home to ever-growing Hobart suburbs as well as rambling gullies, horse tracks and walking trails. The iconic monolith keeps a watchful eye over the city and is located a 20-minute drive, a lengthy hike or a 'North-South' mountain bike ride from downtown Hobart.

The summit of this wilderness locale offers the perfect panorama of Hobart out to Bruny Island and the Tasman Peninsula when the weather is favourable. Watch the sun set on your weekend in Tasmania from the open viewing platform but be sure to pack a jumper for those alpine winds! If you’ve still got a couple of hours to spare before flying out, head back down to the waterfront and see how the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery is challenging MONA for the top spot on Hobart’s art scene.

Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg