The little island of Tasmania or Tassie to locals is home to some of the most stunning scenery and produce but is sadly often not on a tourist main track when visiting the larger island of Australia.
A few things have of course change since we were all handed the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, and one of those is that domestic tourism has grown in many countries, including down under as Australians can’t travel to the beaches of Bali or Thailand and now are “forced” to seek alternative destinations…….
Over the years I have visited Tasmania for a variety of reasons, be it to explore the wonderful vineyards, be challenged on the very excellent golf courses or hike up and down the many hills……. nature seems to always be at the heart of the visit.
Getting to Tassie?
There are a few ways to travel to Tasmania, either via the daily ferry from Melbourne and Sydney or fly direct to Hobart or Launceston from the various capital cities in Australia. There is now even an international flight from the beautiful city of Auckland in New Zealand three times a-week to Hobart. We flew on the QantasLink Boeing 717 from Melbourne, which is a quick 65-minuets flight arriving just after lunch.
Hobart’s “international” airport is only a 20-min drive and I highly recommend renting a car as the island is great to explore and in-general easy to get around. The roads are well maintained and with the many boutique villages in the countryside and wonderful wineries its really worthwhile making that effort to explore the countryside.
Staying in Hobart
We stayed in the “city”, which is many ways is only a big town playing home to around 210,000 residents. The bay and surrounding hills are very easy to navigate around so it’s easy to understand why people have made Hobart their home.
There is plenty of good hotels or serviced apartments in the city and most are with-in easy walking distance to the waterfront. Our choice was the newish Crowne Plaza Hobart, located in the upper part of the city compared to the new Movenpick, or if you are looking at something more “trendy” the art inspired Henry Jones https://thehenryjones.com/ or the very fancy MACq01 https://www.macq01.com.au on the waterfront or slightly further outside the city center is the very stylish, but homely boutique hotel the Islington https://www.islingtonhotel.com/.
As explained Hobart is easy to get around and both taxis and Uber’s are easy to get hold of and even overnight parking at the city hotels is good value.
Places to see
There is plenty to do and see in Hobart. Starting with the Constitution Dock, which is iconic and plays annually host to the big celebration to the winners of the sailing race Sydney to Hobart. The harbor is also home to the brilliant Saturday Salamanca Market, where traders sell the best of Tassie produce, from arts & craft to warm doughnuts and the amazing truffle oil. Walk through the streets as you admire the old sandstone warehouses that play host to galleries and cafes. A short walk along the lanes and you get to Battery Point, a historic district with narrow lanes and colonial-era cottages. Stop for a coffee or afternoon tea or a look at the boutiques as you walk back into the city.
For Art Lovers
Tasmania is not just about the wonderful produce and landscapes, but in the past decade has become the centre of art in Australia with the amazing Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) https://mona.net.au. The museum is brilliant and a must for every visitor to Hobart. Take the 15-minuet uber chic Mona ferry from the waterfront dock and be enthralled as you make way around the fascinating displays. Mona is weird and wonderful, but as the founder and owner David Walsh makes clear “its Disneyland, with cocktails, and a few works of quite-good-but-not-amazing Australian modernism”. The beautiful buildings are really what makes the environment so special with all the artworks located three floors below or mostly subterranean and how the art is displayed. Located within on the Berriedale Peninsula, which is also home to highly rated and Mona owned winery Moorilla. Mona offers a range of dining, from fine dining to cafe style that is set around the grounds so you can enjoy the open areas and outdoor setting. There is even accommodation, the Mona Pavilions, should you wish to stay and spend the extra time getting to know and enjoy Mona.
Taking full advantage of the tasty produce Hobart is also home to an excellent selection of nice restaurants and its really worthwhile exploring and booking well ahead. Highlights from our visit was the modern “Urban Greek”, where the meat platter for two could be enjoyed by most your close friends! The uber chic Lounge by Frogmore Creek at the MACq01 hotel, where classic service was matched with gourmet dining and stunning views over the harbour. Only a few minuets walk along the waterfront is another cool hotel, the Henry Jones which is home to Peacock & Jones. Exceptionally friendly staff combined with another great meal summed up our dining experiences on the island. The wine lists in-general reflect the many cool-climate varieties and styles with the sparkling wines, Chardonnay’s and Pinot Noir’s leading the wine lists, but also now with local Malt whiskies and gin’s that grace the pages.
Exploring the region
With the countryside so close we decided to take a drive to visit the villages where the produce is grown. The quaint town of Richmond is at the heart of the Cole River Valley region and only a 30-minute drive east of Hobart. The town is charming and is home to a number of boutiques including a few very nice antique shops and of course the town’s pub! As you drive through the countryside there are plenty of wineries, cheese markers and fruit growers to visit and try a few of the local products. Make sure you stop at Riversdale Estate https://riversdaleestate.com.au/ that is just over halfway in Cambridge during the journey to Richmond. The estate sprawling vineyards and lovely home creates a beautiful backdrop with the hills and Barilla Bay as the backdrop. Have lunch in the French style bistro or book afternoon tea in their gorgeous pink inspired tea-room.
Overall it was truly an enjoyable trip, my only complaint was the extra weight gained from the many lovely meals!
The blog was undertaken by John Grindlay and was NOT paid for by Tourism Tasmania, Crowne Plaza, Qantas or Virgin Australia, but by www.theairlinereviewer.com team to ensure a fair review and transparency.
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