Weekend Getaway to Hobart

Easily accessible from the mainland capitals, Hobart is an ideal weekend getaway. Come with us  as we reacquaint ourselves with Australia's southernmost capital city.

Once a year Australia remembers Hobart. That’s when the sometimes-treacherous Sydney to Hobart yacht race takes place just after Christmas. The rest of the time Tasmania pretty much does its own thing, pretty relaxed about ‘the trench’ between this clean green island and ‘the mainland’ as the locals call them and makes an ideal place to visit any time.

hobart

Yet it is what’s under the water that really sets this city apart. Strolling Constitution Dock one morning we pass a woman crouched on the deck beside the fish punt she operates. There are several of these squarish shop-boats, unique to Hobart, moored beside yachts and fishing craft in the marina, and those in the know come for the freshest catch each day.

fishpunt

Today she is writing the day’s specials on a blackboard. On another one headed This Afternoon she adds ‘sashimi grade tuna’. It’s not midday. I wonder if the fish even has the hook in its mouth yet!

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One species of fish has earned Tasmania a place in food dictionaries. In Salamanca Square, a magnet for tourists and one of the oldest parts of Hobart, we visit the brand-new Tassal centre. A handwritten sign on the window says: ‘The Salmon Shop’. Tasmanian, naturally.

smolt

Young salmon, properly termed smolt, swim in a showcase-aquarium at the entrance. In the centre’s classySmolt restaurant crusty house-made ciabatta is piled on the pass from the open kitchen while through another opening we sight an impressive range of wines. Next door, a providore sells cuts of fresh and smoked salmon and all sorts of fishy cookware, books and gadgets. At the rear there is a demonstration table for cooking classes and someone hands out tastes of a salmon dish.

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Later we dine at Flathead (www.thenoshcompany.com), also new in town. Word must have got around fast as the small space is packed. It’s basically a fishmonger’s and the deal is they cook whatever is the freshest and best. You can’t argue with that philosophy and my flathead and chips are as good as it gets. Our starter of Thai fish cakes arrive moist, unusually tender, and just as delicious as I’ve been told.

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Steeply positioned between the busy waterfront and 1270 metre high Mount Wellington and bisected by the lovely River Derwent, Hobart is Australia’s second-oldest city. Founded as a penal colony in 1803 and with a petite CBD dignified by gracious nineteenth-century stone buildings, it is the country’s smallest state capital and birthplace of both a Hollywood heart-throb (Errol Flynn) and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

Mt-Wellington

Perhaps the best thing about Hobart is that food and sightseeing are inextricably linked. Except for the mandatory visit to Mount Wellington, a thirty-minute drive from town, where the summit information centre has been left sensibly sans-food outlets so visitors have no distractions from perhaps the best view in Australia, everywhere else comes with a gourmet side-order.

 

Here’s a mouth-watering wrap:

salamanca

Salamanca Place – beautiful stone ex-warehouses on what was once the foreshore (according to a brass plate in the footpath) now house sensational galleries, craft and jewellery boutiques as well as reviving coffee at cafes in old stone premises, wines at small bars, and good restaurants serving a world of cuisines. On Saturdays this is the venue for the bustling Salamanca Markets which have turned 40 this year!

 

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Battery Point – the high point overlooking the bay, originally planned as the port’s defence, has several restaurants, bakeries and cafes.

 

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Constitution & Victoria Docks – endpoint of that famous yacht race where Mures Fish Centre, established by a dynasty of seafood specialists, dominates the dining scene with two floors of restaurants and an award-winning sushi restaurant, Orizuru, at the rear.

 

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Across Victoria Dock is the acclaimed Henry Jones Art Hotel, and next door Jam Packed, a lively wine bar and cafe lives up to its name with diners and coffee fiends spilling into the sunny atrium behind. Night time finds the IXL Bar grooving. It’s named for the location as all this was once the site of iconic jam company, IXL.

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wrestpoint

Wrest Point – Australia’s first casino, built in 1973, still dominates the skyline at Sandy Bay. Many come for the restaurants as much as roulette – waterside at Pier One, or Level 17 where The Point revolving restaurant serves up a 360 degree view of Hobart, Sandy Bay and more.

tastefestival

 

 

 

You don’t have to be a tourist to eat well in Hobart, though. A scattering of provedores (Lipscombe LarderHill Street Grocer) proudly showcase boutique Tasmanian condiments, olive oils, honeys and deli items.

Then there is the fruit. Come in summer if you can when cherries, raspberries and other berries are at their peak. It’s no accident that the week-long Taste of Tasmania kicks off after Christmas each year.

Hobart is on a roll, as is the entire state. These days hardly anyone calls Tasmania the ‘apple isle’. The shape may be faintly reminiscent of one, but I reckon it’s more like a heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

WHAT’S HOT

mona

 

Museum of Old and New Art - MONA opened in Hobart in January 2011. It houses a collection that ranges from ancient Egyptian mummies to some of the world’s most infamous and thought-provoking contemporary art. The building’s subterranean design and the owner’s unconventional and challenging curatorial approach make it a must-see for any visitor to Australia.

Just twenty minutes north of the city centre this is where you'll also find Moorilla Estate overlooking the Derwent, has The Source restaurant, Moo Brew brewery, and cellar door sales.

 

For top-end Chinese Cantonese food, visit Me Wah, Tasmania’s recently awarded top restaurant and sibling to Launceston’s darling of the same name.

Take a catamaran downriver to The Stackings, the acclaimed Peppermint Bay restaurant and dine waterside on regional food and wines.

Just before catching your return flight, close to the airport, pick up some fresh specially packed Barilla Bay oysters to carry home.

 


THE FACTS

Hobart is Australia's only island state, located south-east of the mainland.

The city is around a one-hour flight from Melbourne. The city has a number of international standard hotels as well as other accommodation.

More information...

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