Tasmania is special. It’s always been special. Wild and untamed, its coastline is wrapped around rugged mountains, ancient rainforests, highland lakes and bucolic countryside. It’s the perfect place for adventure travellers.
But these days Tasmania is also special for its food and wine, distilleries, galleries, cultural attractions and festivals. Just before the pandemic hit, National Geographic included Tasmania in its annual Best Trips list, Condé Nast named it “a must-see” and Monocle magazine listed Hobart fourth in the world’s top small cities.
Hobart’s transition to Capital of Cool was forged in 2011 when billionaire art collector David Walsh opened the Museum of Old & New Art (Mona), a showcase of contemporary art and international treasures. Mona hosts impressive events including Mona Foma in summer and Dark Mofo in winter.
While this year’s Dark Mofo has been cancelled and Mona has not announced its plans for re-opening, there are plenty of things to do in Hobart now that restrictions are easing. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery will welcome visitors from June 23 with a new exhibition, Exquisite Habits, featuring the work of botanic artist Stephanie Dean. Its captivating West: Out on the Edge exhibition will continue until 18 October.
One of the best things about Tasmania is that, by Australian standards, nothing is very far away. You can be bushwalking or rafting in wild rivers by day and sipping Tasmanian Pinot in a slick Hobart bar by night.
The rich soil, clean air and pure water produce world-class food and wine, and it’s very easy to have a “paddock to plate” experience in cafés, restaurants and even local pubs. It’s even easier at farmers markets and roadside stalls, many still with honesty boxes.
Popular Salamanca Market has yet to announce when it will re-open, but restaurants and bars are beginning to welcome guests. Seasonal and regional produce is the star attraction at gastro-pub Tom McHugo’s and at hot restaurants like Templo and its pint-sized wine bar offspring, Sonny.
Another favourite is Lucinda Wine Bar whose wine list spans more than 130 varieties from around the world. Tasmania itself produces world-class wine, especially its sparkling whites. Pinot Noir also attracts a lot of interest, as does the island’s cider, whisky and gin, produced by award-winning distilleries such as Sullivan’s Cove and Lark.
Kick back in slick waterfront bars and restaurants but also explore the city’s laneways and side streets. The CBD and historic Battery Point are easy to walk around, and you’ll find great places to relax, browse and buy.
The gorgeous Vibe Hotel Hobart, set to open in Argyle Street later this year, will liven the CBD with its striking façade and hospitality offerings. It’s an easy walk from here to the waterfront and Salamanca Place, and it’s a great base for exploring Tasmania.
East of Hobart, visit historic Richmond and the Coal River Valley wineries, or head south-east to World Heritage listed convict sites, including Port Arthur.
Learn to cook with the Gourmet Farmer, Matthew Evans, at Fat Pig Farm south of Hobart, or head north-west to the The Agrarian Kitchen Cooking School and Farm in the picturesque Derwent Valley. Its ethos of seasonal cooking is beautifully expressed at The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery in New Norfolk.
Artists, authors, craftspeople, designers, cooks, food and beverage producers, musicians and performers, all find inspiration in Tasmania. Living on an island at the end of the world brings out the creativity in people.
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