Australia’s southernmost capital city has been a favourite holiday destination for Victorians for years but the rest of the country has been missing out! Hobart, Tasmania is a bustling mecca for arts, food and culture and it’s just a hop, skip and a jump across the Bass Strait.
Hobart attracts a bevy of international travellers, bohemian artists and wilderness-loving adventure types who make the trek to the Apple Isle to enjoy the city where historic meets hip. So if you’re looking for a weekend or a week away, beautiful Hobart has a little something for everyone.
Hobart’s cultural pièce de résistance, MONA, is the brainchild of eccentric philanthropist David Walsh. MONA, which stands for the Museum of Old and New Art, is a bizarre and intriguing collection of art from Australia and around the globe. MONA truly pushes artistic sensibilities to the limit and its exhibitions are a feast of multi-sensory experiences. Prepare for MONA to challenge your expectations of what a museum should be – with what it could be; a visit to MONA is an enchanting confrontation of preconceptions of what’s usual, what’s possible and what constitutes art. We’d tell you more, but we don’t wish to spoil it. MONA is located in North Hobart; there are a winery, brewery and restaurant on site, as well as a library and a cemetery ($75,000AUD will buy you a lifetime membership to MONA and a ‘plot’ for your jarred ashes in the Museum cemetery. We told you this place was quirky!)
Perhaps MONA’s founder David Walsh, who made his extensive fortune as a professional gambler, got his start at the Wrest Point Hotel and Casino. If you fancy a roll of the dice, pop on down to Wrest Point. The accommodation at the hotel offers stunning views of the Harbour and international acts tour through the theatre on a regular basis. Book a table at the Point revolving restaurant, complete with buffets and banquets to suit all appetites, before hitting the tables for truly memorable evening.
Make sure your itinerary includes a Saturday, as no trip to Hobart is complete without a visit to the bustling Salamanca Markets. Over 300 local vendors pedal their wares at the Markets, offering up local artisan produce and handicrafts from across Tasmania. Nestled between the sandstone facades of Hobart’s historic warehouse district, the Salamanca markets are open every Saturday from 8.30am to 3.00pm.
Amble around Battery Point, one of Hobart (and Australia’s) oldest suburbs. It’s hailed as one of Hobart’s most exclusive suburbs and boasts some of the earliest houses built at settlement. Make sure you visit Arthur’s Circus, a small village green surrounded by cottages that were built to house the officers of the garrison at Battery Point. The Narryna Colonial Museum is also worth a look, not only for its collection of fine arts and antiques but also the Greek Revival townhouse that the collection calls home.
Hobart’s majestic mountain backdrop cannot be ignored. The snowcapped Mount Wellington stretches over 1,200 metres above sea level and offers a range of forested walking tracks and hiking trails for nature lovers. There’s also a narrow, sealed road to the summit which is open at all times of year, although access may be reduced during the winter months due to snow and ice blockages. At the top of Pinnacle Road, there’s a viewing platform that offers the perfect vantage point to take in the breathtaking scenery of the Derwent Estuary, the Hobart Harbour and glimpses of the World Heritage Area to the southwest.
Staying and Going
We recommend a car to get around Hobart. Although it’s a small city, it’s long and narrow as it hugs the Harbour and even the most avid walking enthusiast will find traversing the city on foot a challenge. There’s so much to do here, you’ll find it difficult to squeeze it all into a weekend. If you do decide to stay longer, consider visiting some of the surrounding attractions at Richmond and Port Arthur. There’s a great driving tour through the southern Tasmanian wine region just a short drive from Hobart.
Hobart’s climate is quite cool, so make sure you pack for a few different temperatures, as the weather can change rapidly. Also, don’t forget to pack travel insurance, a sturdy pair of walking shoes and, of course, your camera. Happy travels!