Georgia is a writer and researcher living in Hobart, with her violinmaking husband, 3 children and a scruffy dog. A seventh-generation Tasmanian on her father’s side, you don’t have to ask Georgia twice to talk about the treasures of her island home.
Hobart is a small city with a rich and dirty history and, I have to tell you – this town is the place to be!
There has been a cultural and economic revolution here since my 90s university days or since you did that family fly-drive holiday in the 80s. We moved our family and business from the state’s north to the waterfront capital 3 years ago, and we have not looked back. There has been such dynamic development that I feel like a tourist every day in this burgeoning city. And as much as we want to keep this island paradise to ourselves, I invite you to come on down and if you like, enjoy this experience of a day out touring the riverfront.
A sleepover experience...
You have to stay at Macq01 hotel. Built on an old pier, Tasmanian stories soak into the bones of the place. The developers commissioned researchers to scour the state’s archives, bars and nursing homes for common tales of island characters. They found myths and legends of creatives, dreamers, rogues and rascals in spades. Each of the 114 rooms is designed to bring one character to life, revelling with style in Tasmania’s wild history. The hotel storytellers (yes, that is their full-time job!) offer guests complimentary story tours invoking, whalers, madams, convicts and colonialists and celebrating the ancient and ongoing culture of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people.
Accommodation in Hobart can be hard to find, especially when the festivals are on. So it is a good idea to book well in advance. Airbnb's abound, so if a more home-like experience is prefered, then you will find some stunners.
The sights on foot
The River Derwent is broad and welcoming and an early morning stroll from the hotel will take you across the wharf, past the bobbing yachts and Antarctic voyagers through sandstone Salamanca Place, to one of Hobart's oldest suburbs, Battery Point. For breakfast, I recommend coffee and pastries at Jackman and McRoss on Hampden Road. Window shop the vintage and antique shops, bookshops and home store and admire the sweet Georgian cottages. Back to the waterfront through our favourite, Princes Park. On the site of the old battery, 'the boat park' as the kids call it, offers a rolling hill with just the sort of lush, manicured grass you want to lie on. Take in the views from under the trees before meandering back via the natty Japanese sushi train restaurant, Kosaten (I recommend the fried chicken) and picking up some souvenirs like a set of locally designed and produced napkins from the award-winning luxe store, Luc Design.
If it is Saturday, Salamanca market is on, and you can disappear in there for hours. One of the biggest anywhere, the market has 300 stalls of art, craft, fruit, flowers and food from around the island and the globe. The dilemma here is: do you follow up gozleme with the handmade custard doughnuts or w with the smallest pancakes in the world? The Lark Distillery isn’t far away either if you don’t mind a whisky...?
There is nowhere I would rather spend an hour or two than in Nancy, the Eye Am Hair copper caravan of hairdressing love. Your travel compadres can have a drink at the Hobart Brewing Company next door while you settle in for their expert hair cutters to give you ‘The Whole Shebang’, ‘The Zhuzhing haircut’ or just get ‘ The Quickie'. You can elect a silent cut if you aren’t feeling chatty or a ‘Mystery Mane’ if you are up for anything. And you might want a quick ‘zhuzh’ before heading out to Walshie’s.
What? There's a gallery to visit?
Speaking of rich and dirty, David Walsh, our eccentric and generous millionaire, is drawing the world into Hobart with his art fun-park, MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art). The museum and Dark Mofo winter festival have ignited the city's’ cultural flames, and art-and-fun-loving tourists are flocking because Walshie sure knows how to throw a party. MONA’s best side is from the water, so to get there, catch a Mona Roma Ferry from the Brooke Street Pier and take in kunanyi/Mount Wellington, from the deep grey Derwent. Spring for the ferry’s ‘Posh Pit’ where you’ll be served bubbles and nibbles and the captain might do some river history-telling.
You don’t have to like art to love MONA. Just sipping Moorilla Estate or a Moo Brew on the lawn, listening to music and soaking up the vibes is an afternoon well spent. But, the museum is phenomenal and lives up to its reputation of being dark and dirty: a treasure-filled Triassic sandstone cave. You have to see it. Of the two restaurants, MONA describes The Source as their ‘swankiest’, and it is. Faro is fancy in a more ‘experimental tapas, house sangria and cocktails’ way. Like everything MONA does, these dining experiences poke at, stretch and then drive a tank through the boundaries in their avant-garde pageant of island produce. Open your mind and enjoy the adventure surrounded by art and water.
At sunset, I have something special for you. Grab your glass, and head out to Armana. This white gazebo overlooking the rivers is the creation of by renowned American artist, James Turrell. Sit under its canopy and wonder as it flaunts a supernatural light show, only visible as the sun rises over the Derwent or sets behind kunanyi.