Travel

Hobart unmasked: the hidden treasures of Tasmania's southern capital

Mount Wellington has a magical vista over Hobart - sometimes, it's covered in snow, even in summer.

Imagine a getaway so captivating that it leaves you daydreaming about relocating to the very place you just visited. That's precisely the kind of spellbinding experience Hobart, Tasmania, cast upon Alana House during her 4-night escape to the Tasmanian capital city.

By Alana House

Mona, Mount Wellington and more: unveiling Hobart's wonders

You know it’s been a great getaway when you start Googling properties for sale at your holiday destination.

I have been staring longingly at listings ever since flying home from a 4 night escape to Hobart.

The Tasmanian capital punches well above its weight for a city with only 250,000 residents. It offers a great mix of bars and restaurants in close proximity to natural wonders.

Hobart is a walkable city, with a beautiful dock and harbour to get something to eat or just take a stroll.

My partner and I stayed at the Crowne Plaza in the centre of the city and were lucky enough to be upgraded to a suite. It was bigger than some apartments I’ve lived in and even had a freestanding bathtub.

It also gave us access to a private rooftop bar with views over the city and harbour, where complimentary drinks and canapes were served from 5-7pm every night, followed by a complimentary hot and cold breakfast every morning.

It was a great base for our stay, with shops, bars, restaurants and the harbour all within easy walking distance.

Salamanca Market is a hop, skip and a jump from Hobart CBD.

We hit the ground running on our first day, heading to Salamanca Market, which runs each Saturday from 8.30am to 3pm, in historic Salamanca Place. The market is filled with more than 300 stallholders selling everything from fresh produce to handmade gifts.

My first port of call was Smith’s van to feast on one of its famed scallop pies. Delicious!

Then we drove to Mt Wellington, which towers impressively over the city. The landscape at the top is otherworldly and alpine-like and often whipped by icy winds, but it is well worth braving them for the fantastic views of Hobart and much of southern Tasmania.

On our way back into town we spotted a red hop-on hop-off bus ahead of us and decided to follow it. It was a genius move as it led us to the picturesque Cascade Brewery, where we sipped a couple of pots of cider in the late afternoon sun.

Our other favourite bars during our trip were The Still and Rude Boy.

Housed in the old Mercury Print room, The Still is a stylish venue that serves more than 150 local spirits by the measure. I ordered the best Old Fashioned I’ve ever tasted, featuring Lark Symphony No.1 Whisky, mango, maple syrup and orange.

Rude Boy has a laidback vibe, with friendly staff and gorgeous tropical décor. We sat in a curved velvet booth sampling the bar’s signature rum cocktails and eating delicious fried chicken.

Rude Boy in Hobart is worth a pit stop, says Alana House.

On our second day in town we headed to Mona, the Museum ofOld and New Art. Even if you’re not a huge art fan, it’s a must-do experience.

The museum is located on the banks of the River Derwent in Berriedale, 11 kilometres north of Hobart and approximately 25 minutes by water on a high-speed ferry from Brooke Street Pier.

Mona is a dramatic art gallery near Hobart that's a great visit, even if you don't love modern art.

It has been designed to be approached from the water, with visitors disembarking from the ferry and climbing a long staircase, in the manner of the ancient Greeks ascending to their temples.

At the top of the staircase is a playground and impressive sculpture garden, including a full-sized wrought iron cement truck.

Inside the museum you spiral downwards into its underground galleries, where you discover startling artworks such as the famed “The Great Wall of Vagina”, featuring porcelain vulvas sculpted from 51 women and remarkable installations such as “Fall” by a German artist, Julius Popp, which consisted of words made out of drops of water falling from a great height. 

The writer Alana House on top of Mount Wellington.

When you need to take a breath from the intensity of the art there are a variety of restaurants, food trucks and cafes on site. We dined at The Source restaurant, where I ordered one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten in forever: fried buttermilk cauliflower, almond cream, tahini dressing, pomegranate burnt honey, puffed wild rice & garlic crisps. It was insanely good.

We rounded out the fun by listening to live music and sipping glasses of wine on outdoor beanbags overlooking the river in the gentle winter sun.

Our favourite day trips

While there are plenty of adventures to be had within Hobart itself we also enjoyed taking day trips further afield.

Port Arthur is situated a stunningly beautiful corner of Tasmania. We travelled there via Dunalley for a seafood feast at The Cannery, overlooking Boomer Bay.

We ordered a seafood platter for one plus six oysters, which was an ample feast for 2, paired with delicious Lost Pippin cider.

After lunch we drove to the former penal colony, where we roved around the grounds reading plaques detailing fascinating – and often harrowing – tales of prison life as we explored the ruins.

Hobart is well-positioned for day trips to southern Tasmanian hotspots, as well as great to eat, drink and explore.

A boat tour was included with our entry ticket and gave a great commentary about the Isle of the Dead cemetery island off shore and the country’s first children’s gaol, Point Puer Boy’s Prison, which housed inmates as young as 9.

I decided against going into the ruins of the church as my workmate Billy reckons he was grabbed by a ghost when he was there. In broad daylight. Shudder.

We also took a Pennicotts Tasman Island Cruise, a three-hour wilderness cruise along the spectacular coastline between Port Arthur and Eaglehawk Neck.

It was absolutely stunning, filled with dramatic scenery and wildlife encounters. Pods of dolphins frolicked around the boat, albatrosses swooped through the air and we pulled into coves crammed with seals and furry black pups, who poked their heads up between the rocks to check us out.

Another great destination for a day trip is Bruny Island. We drove to 30 minutes from Hobart Kettering and caught the car ferry to the island. Our first stop was The Neck Lookout, which gives a fabulous view of North and South Bruny Island, then we drove to the far end of the island to Cape Bruny to climb to the lighthouse.

Sadly the famed Bruny Island oyster hut had run out of stock by the time we drove past, so we grabbed a sandwich to eat overlooking the water in gorgeous Adventure Bay, then sampled chocolate from Bruny Island Chocolate Company before queuing for a ferry back to the mainland.

Bruny Island has dramatic landscape and small food producers.

We also enjoyed a long lunch at the Agrarian Kitchen in New Norfolk during our stay. Based about 35 minutes out of Hobart, the famed restaurant is located in the town’s former mental asylum. The vast space features large windows and high ceilings lined with the original pressed metal, while the old exercise yard has been converted to a kitchen garden.

Our set menu featured endless courses of luscious morsels sourced from the garden and nearby producers, including the most delicious brussel sprouts I’ve ever tasted.

If you dine at the restaurant on a Saturday, our Hobart friends advise taking a twirl around the New Norfolk Market beforehand. Located in High Street, it features local produce, food stalls, artisan breads, homemade jams, sweets and baked goods, crafts and plants.

We are eager to return to Hobart soon - there are so many more great restaurants we want to try and natural wonders to discover.

It’s a city that feels like home, with the added bonus of an undiscovered backyard that beckons you to explore.  

Read more about Tasmania's undiscovered beach gems.

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