I love to hear from friends, or strangers, their top suggestions for places I am visiting so I thought I’d pen (type) my little mini break to Tasmania in case it’s useful to anyone.
On Monday my sister and I flew from Sydney to Hobart and settled into our accommodation, the Customs House Waterfront Hotel. It’s a modest establishment, the staff are lovely and it’s cozy enough, what it lacks in frills it makes up for in location.
This is the view from our window
We went straight on an exploration of our immediate neighbourhood, Salamanca and Battery Point are a short stroll to the right if you’re facing the water. Battery Point is in a word…neat! Everything is quite manicured and consistent in terms of architecture and landscape, really it’s a delightful little town – my favourite part of Hobart. We took lunch at a tiny but gorgeous cafe, the Pollen Tea Room, my favourite blend of healthy and hipster.
I imagine at the weekends the Salamanca market would be a colourful experience in this darling part of Hobart. At night the trees are lit up with fairy lights (I’m a sucker for magical lighting) and the area becomes even more romantic.
We took a quick stroll of the CBD but there’s really no need, it’s like most city centres – not the heart of the place. We came back to Battery Point for an early dinner at Magic Curries (just across the road from Pollen Tea Room), they were indeed magic the 2 dishes we chose. Like our hotel, the restaurant was not fancy but the product was full of flavour and had plenty of sustenance.
Due to significant cloud cover we decided to save our planned trip to mount Wellington for another time and instead took a stroll about 20 mins to our left along the water and eventually found our way to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. They are sprawling and stunning with an array of botanical offerings – take a stroll through all that greenery and fresh air and you’d be hard pressed to not love life. I’d happily return here every other day with a book and/or a picnic to while away a few hours.
For the afternoon we took a shuttle bus to the quaint town of Richmond, through the Coal River Valley and it’s beautiful landscape that’s unmistakably Australian, the drive is half the enjoyment. Richmond is reminiscent of a little village in the English countryside, the river and bridge over it are the highlights purely for their prettiness. Amy sampled the local culinary delicacy – a curried scallop pie, I had some local tassie walnuts in a spinach and avocado salad that was as delicious as it was simple. The main street hosts some darling gift shops and cafés, there’s also a historic gaol if you’re that way inclined?
MONA!! One of the main reasons I was drawn to Tassie and it didn’t disappoint. You MUST take the ferry there, it’s the coolest boat I’ve ever been on and the wharf is a stones throw from our hotel. I enjoyed some of the installations but mostly I enjoyed wandering slowly through the contemporary design of the site itself, super cool but also quite rustic and complimentary to the natural landscape. The moorila winery and vineyard added to the beauty of the place and provided a beautiful contrast to the urban appeal of some of the buildings. There are several options for dining amidst the scenic surrounds, we have not had a disappointing meal anywhere in tassie yet.
MONA has a trampoline they let the big kids play on.
In the evening we dined at Ethos Eat Drink, an exceptional culinary experience, fine but relaxed dining with a focus on local sustainable produce (some of which came straight from the planter boxes that line the entry). They offer a set menu in the evenings of either 6 or 8 courses and they were more than happy to veganise it for me. We loved that the menu was nondescript and simply listed the ingredients in no particular order that would feature in the dishes. I find that a lot of fine dining experiences are either French or Asian inspired so I loved that the dishes and decor were distinctly Australian in a contemporary and natural way, you’ll see what I mean from the plates and table pictured. It’s very reasonably priced too, $70 for 6 courses.
We hired a car and covered some solid tassie ground to finish our visit. Beginning the day at Mt Wellington with a spectacular view of Hobart, I couldn’t capture in a photo the beauty of the view, the freshness of the air and the span of mountains and valleys spectacular in their vastness.
We then hit the highway toward North Tasmania, travelling an hour or so before having a little pit stop in the sleepy town of Oatlands (no other reason led us there except timing and proximity to the highway). We pulled in right next to the still operating Callington Mill. Across the road from the mill I was delighted to find the Companion Bakery serving, amongst other things, chais and dandelion lattes with rice or soy milk and treats made from local produce including spelt flour from the mill across the road. Makes my heart flutter these little things.
On we went on our journey north, the next stop being the Bridestowe Lavendar Farm. I knew it wasn’t the peak season for viewing, I’ve seen pictures of the lavendar in full bloom and it is stunning but I wasn’t disappointed by the off season landscape anyway.
From here it was a short drive to the cellar door of Jansz and Piperbrook wines, not that I was in the market for some plonk but the vineyards are always romantic in my eyes. Geese on the lawn and all.
The drive is really special, the landscape being distinctly Australian – sheep and cows grazing in fields, rustic and barren land, mountains and valleys for days. Some roads hint a little English countryside, some a bit American woods, and then returning to pure Aussie bush.
We finished our journey a few minutes from the city centre of Launceston at Cataract Gorge, a natural oasis of water and bush land. The light on the water at dusk was breathtaking.
In the 4 days we spent in Tassie there’s not 1 thing I regret doing, and most activities were purely impulsive. I can’t say that about visits to most other cities I’ve seen. Every little piece of Tassie we explored was a treat.
I’ve only just found this website but if you have longer than 4 days to discover Tasmania, visit here.