When I arrived in Hobart, the capital of the Australian island of Tasmania, I literally had no idea what to do. We had a rough plan for a road trip along the eastern coast after a few days, but as we had time to kill in Hobart, we picked up every leaflet we could find the tiny airport arrivals lounge.
Hobart is a beautiful and unbelievably friendly place. I was instantly smitten by its charm and over the three days we spent there, we discovered so much. The food in particular was incredible, but that’s a whole other post for another time. Sydney and Melbourne are on everyone’s itinerary when visiting Australia, but, a few days will definitely be enough for you to fall in love with Tasmania.
Not a fan of art galleries? It doesn’t matter; you must go to the MONA. This is easily the most amateur-friendly and accessible gallery I’ve ever been to, not just from the pieces on display but down to the way it’s curated. Getting there is exciting enough as it is, with a boat shuttle complete with sheep shaped stools to sit on!
On entering the gallery you’re given an iPhone and headphones which are your guide. Using GPS tagging, the phone knows what pieces you’re near and offers the usual information you’d read on the wall as well as commentary from artists and critics. You can even mark things as ‘favourites’ and email yourself a full list once you’re done.
The gallery encourages you to take photographs too, so there’s no need for a sneaky, blurry shot of a piece you like when you can use your camera and capture it properly. The museum ranges from the beautiful, like Untitled by David Noonan, to the bizarre – such as the Cloaca Professional, a machine that imitates the digestive system. And I dare any woman to look at ‘Cunts…and Other Conversations’ and not try to find her vagina doppelganger!
As a non-Aussie, I was oblivious to the devastating and upsetting history of Port Arthur. The port is the site of an old British convict prison, with hundreds of men, women and children being sent thousands of miles from home sometimes for something as small as stealing a loaf of bread.
Free tours run throughout the day, showing you around the prison including the horrifying sensory deprivation cells. You can also take a short boat trip from the port, which houses a few small islands that were home to heaven only knows how many graves of previous convicts. Just over 20 years ago, this place was the site of Australia’s worst gun massacre and a moving memorial can be found here too.
It sounds maudlin, and it is, but the setting is also absolutely beautiful. We took our own lunch of local, fresh produce that we’d bought from Hobart’s wonderful Farm Gate Market and managed to enjoy the sunshine and take in what is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most important historical sites.
Battery Point and the Harbourside
Tasmania is near on impossible to get around without a car, but there are parts of Hobart that are great for wandering and meandering. Battery Point is home to a variety of good restaurants and pubs and it has the feel of a small Surrey village. Matchbox bungalows, white picket fences and ivy-covered brick make up the aesthetic of cute and quaint.
The harbourside is calm and in the sun-dappled autumn afternoon it took my breath away. Hints of Tasmania’s vast, mountainous landscape teased us, and the horizon was entirely uninterrupted by the cruise liners and yachts you’d expect anywhere else in the world. Walking along here is one of the most blissfully peaceful experiences I’ve ever had whilst travelling.
I’ve got a couple of posts coming up on where to eat in Hobart soon, and be warned – it’s food porn at its greatest!