There’s no time to be lost, so start your weekend escape by heading straight to the top – the top of kunanyi/Mount Wellington that is. Not many cities in Australia have a majestic mountain as a backdrop. From here you can see the city stretched before you, the River Derwent snaking its way towards the ocean. If the views don’t blow you away, the wind might. Take a short walk on the rocky pinnacle – you’ll see unique alpine plants. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you might prefer to book a tour with Under Down Under and make your way down the mountain on a bike. It will get the heart racing.
The bike adventure ends at the Cascade Brewery. How convenient. It’s time for a cool, crisp and award-winning lager. Standing tall at the base of the mountain, this impressive gothic sandstone building houses the oldest operating brewery in Australia. It’s worth doing a tour if you have time. If not, there’s certainly time to take an Instaworthy shot or two.
Not far from the brewery is the Cascades Female Factory. This historic site was the home to many incarcerated women during convict times. Life here was harsh. ‘Her Story’ is a roaming play that depicts what these women experienced. You’ll shudder.
Time for dinner. North Hobart, or NoHo to the locals, is fast becoming the hip place to eat. Packed with cafés, restaurants, cosy bars and an Art Deco cinema, it’s only a short walk from the city centre. Feel like a dish of fresh Tasmanian tempura scallops or Scottsdale pork jowl to share? Japanese tapas made from local ingredients is what you’ll find at Bar Wa Izakaya. If tequila, not sake, is more your style, then fiesta away at Mexican restaurant Pancho Villa further up the street. Whatever you’re craving, you’ll find something to sate you on this busy restaurant strip.
Post-dinner, make your way to the nightly ghost tour at the Penitentiary – best known as the ‘Tench’ to its original tenants. More than 50,000 convict prisoners spent time behind these walls. Hear their stories as you pass through old courtrooms, mystery tunnels, solitary confinement cells and finally to the dreaded execution yard.
Not quite the ‘spirit’ you had in mind? Then settle in with a Tassie gin cocktail or local pinot at one of the popular drinking holes such as Gold Bar, The Den, Frogmore Creek Lounge or Society in Salamanca.
Good morning Hobart! It’s time to explore the art and culture scene. Head to Small-fry on Bathurst Street for brekkie then to the historic Salamanca Market. The largest open-air street market in Australia is on rain, hail or shine. It’s the place to pick up that specialty gift – think homewares handcrafted from Tasmanian timber, bespoke jewellery, soap made with local botanicals, woollen throws and beanies, and even vodka made from sheep’s whey. Delicious. Once you’ve walked the market strip, amble through the quaint arcades of the old sandstone warehouses and discover a labyrinth of art galleries showcasing the works of contemporary local artists and craftspeople.
A short walk to the docks to book a ticket on the camouflaged catamaran, MR-1 Mona Roma – it’s time for an afternoon at Mona. Book a spot in the ‘Posh Pit’ for drinks and canapés in the exclusive lounge, bar and private deck if you want to travel in style. Or opt for a sheep seat back in cattle class, you can still drink bubbles – this is Mona after all.
Built into the side of 240-million-year-old sandstone cliffs, the building alone is reason enough to visit. You’ll get your best view of Mona as the catamaran approaches. Once you disembark there’s 99-steps to contend with – if that doesn’t get your heart pumping, the exhibitions will.
Expect the unexpected as you descend into the building’s subterranean void. The collection changes regularly, so who’s to predict what you’ll see one visit to the next. Not the kind of place to do things by halves, onsite restaurants Faro and Source are some of Hobart’s best and a wine at Moorilla cellar door that sits above the museum grounds is a great spot to come up for air. It’s easy to get lost for an afternoon in Mona. Catch the last ferry back to the city.
A trip to Tasmania is not complete without a true foodie experience. It’s the one place in Australia where you can connect with the full paddock-to-plate experience, and most chef’s love to share where they sourced the produce.
Drop into bistro Fico* and ask head chefs and owners Federica or Oskar, who met in the north of Italy, why they felt Hobart was the best place to set up their fun dining establishment. Will you be game enough to try their roasted pigeon? Dier Makr* is a great bistro and wine bar in the heart of the CBD. Step into the wine cellar to select an organic wine from the extensive collection. You’re sure to find the perfect wine to accompany your tasting menu made from local seasonal ingredients.
Templo* is a small, 20-seat restaurant in the back streets of Hobart. The focus is on the simple things. It offers an Italian-leaning tasting menu and the matching (mostly natural) wines complete the experience. The friendly staff will talk you through each dish and share stories of where the wine and produce came from.
*Note to self – given Hobart’s foodie status, you’ll need to book ahead for a table at these popular restaurants.
Spend Sunday morning as the locals do – at Farm Gate Market. Bathurst Street is transformed into a busy hub of stalls selling fresh seasonal produce straight from the farm. Taste a delicious range of honey, cheese, nuts and cider, and it’s almost impossible to walk past the stuffed sourdough donuts – dark chocolate and pistachio or pomegranate and vanilla custard? Why choose, have both, you’re on holiday after all.
Now that your tummy is lined, a signature beer and whisky afternoon tour with Drink Tasmania is in order. Discover Tasmania’s history with whisky and sample some of the finest – you’ll soon find out why Tassie whisky is winning so many awards worldwide, Tasmania is also renowned for its craft beers with micro-breweries popping up all over the island. This tour visits two of the local hot spots. It’s the perfect way to wrap up your weekend away.
As you take your last sip of liquid gold, it will hit you – 48 hours just isn’t long enough to experience all that Hobart has to offer.