Being from the land of the long white cloud, I had always thought Tasmania (Tassie) was too much like New Zealand to bother visiting. It was a plane trip of a few hours from Sydney, but going north to the sunshine and tropics always seemed more appealing. Until we went! And totally fell in love with this old town.
Mark had visited before, so he knew of Hobart, and indeed, Tasmania’s beauty and appeal. He even filmed at Wineglass Bay, an isolated beach of majestic untouched beauty just north of Hobart, and created a tranquil video on loop to sit in the background on your TV so you can hear the sounds of the beach on a lazy summer’s day.
For us to go together was special. We are travel lovers who love travelling together and we’re exploring places together.
The ‘feel’ of Hobart is immediately different. Hard to put your finger on it, but after you’ve settled in, walked about and eaten some of the food, you get it. This place is both beautiful for it’s quaint architecture, and it’s preserved natural beauty. The people thrive here on good clean living, and some of the best Pinot’s, Chardonnays and Sav Blancs in the country. Even the beer from the Cascade Brewery, Australia’s oldest brewery, is made using natural spring water straight from Mt Wellington, overlooking the town. One of the locals told us the air in Tasmania was the cleanest in the world according to tests. I haven’t looked that up yet, but it seemed pretty fresh to us!
They have their own recipe’s and their own food specialties down in Tassie. Bakery goods are a must try, with pie selections like chicken and camembert, and curried scallop pie.
A traditional market is held at the waterfront every Saturday. The Salamanca Market sits in front of historic buildings, creating a wonderful atmosphere. We stood for ages listening and watching some of the best young buskers we’d ever seen – playing blues, jazz and singing that reaches your heart. The produce is super fresh (like the air) and there are many handmade items for sale, lots of arts and crafts.
Tip: Include at least one Saturday in your Hobart itinerary – you don’t want to miss out on the Salamanca Market.
Along the wharves, which are all beautifully restored, you can find some wonderful restaurants and tour operators. We just love the seafood in Tasmania, so we always recommend Fish Frenzy, for some old fashioned fish and chips on the wharf. Paired with a bottle of champagne, you sit on a picnic bench style table and eat freshly caught seafood.
We have booked a few tours that we want to share with you:
Bike Riding Down Mt Wellington
The ‘down’ bit was what got us! A minivan towing a trailer of the group’s bikes drives up the winding steep road to the top of Mt Wellington, and you gear-up and sail your way down on your bike! Fantastic!!! At the top of Mt Wellington the temperature is much cooler and there is often snow on the ground. It really was a blast coming down the mountain together – but I soon realised once we hit the bottom and had to ride up a few small hills to get back to the waterfront that I was not terribly fit. However, I did it, with a few times pushing the bike. They will actually put the bike back on the trailer and take you in the minivan back to the wharf if you want/need.
MONA by boat
Wow, MONA – Museum of Old and New Art. The guy who created this daring, boundary-stretching fantasy has both a good (and dark) sense of humour and money to throw at his creation. Leaving from the wharf on a catamaran that’s painted in war camouflage colours, was an interesting way to start our MONA experience. Inside, the boat is decorated in clever graffiti art, and has a bar for drinks and snacks.
Arriving at MONA, a number of steps takes you to a building that is largely underground, and cut through layers of rock, which are left exposed in many areas. It feels so right to reveal their no-frills, raw beauty. As you tour through this art experiment of a museum, you will be confronted with many no-frills, raw beauties.
Tip: take the guided headset’s they call The O upon entry. They are free, and provide audio that either explains or enhances the visual. Had we taken these on our second time around we would have know that we’d walked passed a wall of vaginas.
When we had first arrived in Hobart, our taxi driver told us that the guy who funded, created and owns MONA, made all his money as a gambler. He went on to tell us that he’s quite a character around town, and he likes to take exhibitions that other art galleries refuse. He refers so himself as God actually, and has carpark spaces reserved for God and God’s Mistress. So it was no great surprise to us (OK it was actually – it was a really, really great surprise…not so much ‘great’, but it was a really ‘big’ surprise), when we walked into the room that simulates the digestive system, right down the end product….smell included. And that’s MONA. Filled with weird and wonderful and confronting art installations. As of writing this, the current exhibition is called Dark Mofo: New Wonders, New Horrors. We must get back there.
Tip: if you have time for lunch, head outside and find the Wine Bar and enjoy some famous Tasmanian oysters.
Cruising down to Peppermint Bay
A leisurely cruise, departing from the main wharves, takes you besides the shores of Hobart until you reach the idyllic Peppermint Bay. Once we arrived we strolled off the boat and through the grounds to The Stackings restaurant and ate a devine lunch on long tables with our fellow day cruisers. We really enjoyed chatting with another couple at lunch, and everyone along the table was happily in conversation with their unexpected lunch companions.
A bit of free time following lunch meant we could wander up the country road, amidst wildflowers and cows, and visit the tiny village of Woodbridge just 100 metres up the road. There were a few shops – a sweet shop, and arts and craft shop, not a lot, but it was a pleasant walk along the old country road.
Other days in Hobart we spent walking around, particularly in Battery Point, where many small cottages and large Georgian style weatherboard houses date back to the early 1800’s. There is always a stunning bakery café to stop at for a coffee or a cup of tea.
Hot tip: hire a car and take a drive out of Hobart, into the beautiful countryside, and visit both Richmond and Port Arthur. Richmond is a country town filled with antique shops, art galleries and restaurants. It is also home to Australia’s oldest bridge. Port Arthur was one of Australia’s convict prisons and has been recreated as a huge open air museum. The tours around Port Arthur bring the convicts’ life alive. The stories are as vivid as they are shocking. We expected to be confronted with this gruesome time in Australia’s history here, but what we found unexpected was the spectacular beauty of this place, and the wonderfully sophisticated, knowledgeable and entertaining operations of the museum.
We’ve stayed in a few hotels in Hobart now, and can say that if you want to splurge a little, a stay at The Henry Jones Art Hotel, nestled in an old jam factory building, tops the lot. Located right on the waterfront, the halls are filled with art, and the rooms are luxurious, with huge bathrooms. An internal courtyard café and a superb sandstone walled restaurant and bar complete the experience, we look forward to returning again soon.
Did you know?
Mark created a whole new genre when he introduced looped DVD screensavers into the world. As DVD players were just starting to boom in the late 1990’s Mark release an Aquarium and a Fireplace DVD. They proved an instant success and he was soon selling them around the world. He has now moved onto AppleTV and has released a few apps including the Richmond Tasmania duckpond. Search for LivingArtTV on your AppleTV app store.
Check out the full range at LivingArt.TV, if you love Tasmania have a look at “a view on Tasmania” a best of all the footage taken in this great state.
Also have a read of his VICE interview of Mark.