Tasmania: A weekend in Hobart

By Rebecca Gibb

Kiwis miss a brilliant break if they don't visit Tasmania, writes Rebecca Gibb.

Hobart's waterfront, with Mt Wellington in the background. Photo / Tourism Tasmania
Hobart's waterfront, with Mt Wellington in the background. Photo / Tourism Tasmania

Meburnians flock to Hobart on long weekends for the food, art, wine and island air. New Zealanders, however, seldom make the trip. Just one per cent of all New Zealanders who visit Australia go to Tasmania, preferring warmer Queensland and Sydney, which means 99 per cent are missing out.

Its capital city shares the same relaxed waterfront atmosphere, art, food and wine scene as Wellington. However, Hobart doesn't share Wellington's inclement weather, being Australia's second driest capital, just behind Adelaide.

Summer and autumn are great times to go with seemingly endless daylight. Here's a 48 hour guide.

SATURDAY

Eat breakfast at Retro cafe (31 Salamancar Place). Established in 1990, it started the city's booming cafe culture, and is an institution for locals.

Retail therapy: Now in its 40th year, Hobart's Salamancar district has more than 200 stallholders tempting you with their wares. A small craft market in the 1960s has become a megalith, selling everything imaginable. The market is open 8.30am-3pm and it pays to shop early to get the best buys. Salamancar was once under the sea. The land was reclaimed using convict labour in the 1820s and 1830s. It then became a hive of activity for local producers exporting fruit, and whalers boiling down their catches to produce oil.

Visit Mona: Hire a bike or jump on the Mona boat, which will take you out to the recently opened Museum of Old and New Art. Multimillionaire David Walsh opened his private collection to the world in January last year and already more than 400,000 people have visited. You could spend the whole day, as there's so much to see. You'll be given an iPhone-like device that identifies which artworks you are near, and provides a layman's view of the piece as well as the eloquently titled "art wank" about it. Moorilla winery is also based at Mona so you can sip between exhibits.

Wine and dine: Head out for an early dinner at Garagistes (103 Murray St). There's a no booking policy so arrive around 6pm to be sure you get a seat at one of the communal tables. The restaurant is housed in a former car workshop and retains its industrial feel. The menu is simple and dominated by sharing plates with all produce sourced in Tasmania. The wine list, however, is international. All 160 wines are sustainably, organically or biodynamically produced.

SUNDAY

Take a hike: A walk up Mt Wellington blows away the cobwebs. At 1271m-high, it looms over Hobart. The natural rain shadow it casts gives the city its dry climate. The hike requires moderate fitness but the views are worth the sweat. Or, a local firm can take you to the top and give you a bike to freewheel to the bottom.

A farmer's lunch: Salamancar market is all bells and whistles but, on a Sunday, local farmers and food producers take over a council carpark on Melville St from 9am-1pm. Health bunnies should try the salad bowl, which consists of fresh produce such as walnuts, tomatoes and free range eggs. For more information see tasfarmgate.com.au.

A dose of history: Swot up on Tasmanian pub quiz facts at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. On the waterfront, the majestic Victorian building covers all periods of Tasmania's history including its indigenous people, British settlement and its past as a penal colony. You can get a full dose of the city's offerings by picking up an Artbike at the museum. It's a free cycle scheme which allows you to pedal around Hobart's galleries at your leisure.

TRAVELLERS' TIPS

Getting there: Air New Zealand and partner airline Virgin Australia fly to Hobart daily from Auckland via Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Fares start at $360 per person one way.

Rebecca Gibb travelled to Hobart courtesy of Tourism Tasmania.


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- Herald on Sunday

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