We were drawn to the cool climate wines and criminal history of Tasmania, the island state off the coast of mainland Australia. We’re very happy that we added it to our itinerary and made the trek. In this post on Hobart and the next on the Great Eastern Drive, we’ll share our high points and why we think “Tassie” is definitely worth a visit.
We Perused Downtown Hobart
We began our Tasmanian adventure in the state’s capital, Hobart, booking a room at the downtown Best Western. Not much happened in the area after 6 p.m., so it’s a good thing we picked Hobart because of its day trip proximity! We did enjoy walking around the Battery Point and Salamanca areas (the latter known for its Saturday market – too bad we missed it!) and the views of the Derwent River. Check out The Black Footed Pig for dinner – it was our favorite meal yet!
We visited Port Arthur
You can’t go to Hobart without making the 1.5 hour scenic drive to Port Arthur, a World Heritage-listed historic site detailing the convict history of the area. The harbor cruise (included in the AUS$39 pp admission price), was a highlight and offered anecdotes about a few of the most interesting Port Arthur prisoners. The walking tour explained how the convict and layperson communities coexisted, and pointed out some of the ruins and what purposes they served. We even got to check out some of the original buildings that have been refurbished to look just like they did in the 1800s! At the end of the tour, you can search the Port Arthur database to see if any of your relatives passed through. We can safely say that none of our extended family members were ever incarcerated there.
We Took In The Scenery… and Lots of Oysters
On the way back to Hobart, we stopped at Bangor Wine & Oyster Shed in Dunalley, where we were immediately in awe of the beauty and the history of the 5th generation owned farm, vineyard and tasting room. The oysters, sparkling wine and local cheese tray were outstanding and highly recommended.
We Visited MONA
Another must-see destination in Hobart is the Museum of Old and New Art, or MONA. The word “museum” doesn’t properly describe this thought-provoking, challenging, insightful place. The building itself is a work of art, carved into the side of a mountain and featuring three stories actually designed around the owner’s personal collection. We don’t want to give away details about the exhibits you’ll find here, but let’s just say we saw pieces we will never forget. Interesting note: there are no wall plaques at MONA; they instead use iPhone looking devices that are geo-tagged with the description and an interview with the artist, which was an added bonus. We would recommend at least 3 hours to see it all.
We Went to the Top of Mount Wellington
Driving more than 4,000 feet up a mountain on the opposite side of the road is no easy feat, but we made it thanks to John’s navigating skills. The summit is so high up, in fact, that its often covered in snow even in summer. You can take a 4-6 hour hike to the top or drive and wave at the hikers like we did. We luckily had clear weather the day we visited, and we could see all the way to Port Arthur.
On to the Great Eastern Drive from Hobart to Launceston!