One Perfect Day in Hobart

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Dec 14, 2016

by KENDALL HILL, Writer

Forget what your weather app is telling you, Hobart is hot. Quirky small hotels, audacious works of art and an exciting dining and drinking scene have more and more mainlanders rethinking their weekend plans. Here’s how to size up Tassie’s compact capital in just 24 hours. 

Kick off the day with a light show

5:00: Start the day in a reflective mood at MONA (655 Main Road, Berriedale). Take a cab to Berriedale and park yourself on heated benches beneath American artist James Turrell’s Amarna installation at MONA’s rooftop plaza. This so-called Skyspace, the largest of more than 80 similar structures around the world, is essentially a rectangular canopy with a partially cut-out roof. Turrell’s calibrated light show is projected onto the canopy’s underside to enhance the natural light show beyond. Witnessing the southern sky’s mercurial moods is a meditative experience that should leave you feeling inspired and thoughtful – and probably quite hungry.

Have a moreish breakfast

07:00: It’s a cab ride to Battery Point, where you can step back in time among the streetscapes of old Hobart Town. This bijou neighbourhood is known for its perfectly preserved cottages, constructed for the officers of the garrison at Arthur Circus, and for the most delicious bakery in town. The double-fronted Jackman & McRoss (57 Hampden Road; 03 6223 3186) is part shop and part café, with layers of loaves and tarts, cabinets of sweet temptations and a pie roster that ranges from slow-cooked beef to scallop and wakame. Bentwood chairs and bare boards complete the atmosphere, which is always heady with the aromas of baked goodness. Break your fast on potato rösti with avocado or hot buttery slices of buttermilk and raisin toast straight from the oven.

Take an artistic tour

09:30: From Battery Point, stroll down Kelly’s Steps, a Hobart landmark, and slip inside the sandstone labyrinth of Salamanca Arts Centre (65-77 Salamanca Place). Within these converted warehouses are quality craftspeople such as The Maker – aka Leonie Struthers – who transforms Japanese fabrics into women’s and children’s clothes, cutting every piece by hand with vintage shears. Co-op gallery Off Centre displays works by talented ceramicists, painters and glassmakers. Handmark Gallery features creations by Tasmanian jewellers, sculptors and furniture makers, including cabinetmaker Stuart Williams, who adorns his occasional pieces with starkly beautiful island scenes.

Refuel with locally roasted beans

11:30: Stroll into town and follow the in-crowd to Pilgrim Coffee (48 Argyle Street) for its daily choice of white or black single-origin beans. For caffeine on the go, pop around the corner to Ecru (18 Criterion Street), a takeaway coffee window fuelled by caffeine evangelist Richard Schramm’s locally roasted beans. Or linger with a cold-drip over at nearby sister café Villino (30 Criterion Street).

Fine-dine at a winery

12:45: The cool-climate wineries of Coal River Valley are a civilised 20-minute cab ride from downtown. Book a table for lunch at Frogmore Creek (699 Richmond Road, Cambridge) and sample chef Ruben Koopman’s innovative, territorial cooking. Taste the Tasmanian terroir in a dish of rolled breast of Marion Bay chicken with serrano, pecorino croquettes, avocado, pumpkin toffee, witlof and mojo picón. The glass-walled dining room and deck embrace bucolic views over pinot noir and sauvignon blanc grapes to bushland beyond and the Mount Pleasant Radio Telescope Observatory. Contemplate the universe over an elegant riesling from the vineyard cellar.

Get in touch with your green thumb

15:00: Heading back to the city, drop into the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (Lower Domain Road, Hobart) for harbour views, colonial history and botanical beauty. If you’re lucky, you might see the last of the orchids in the conservatory; if not, there are glorious parklands to explore at any time of the year. The circa-1818 gardens, still with extensive convict-built walls, contain remarkable collections, including the Sub Antarctic Plant House – unique in the world – and a notable array of conifers. 

Take to the skies

16:30: Cab it to Sandy Bay and wander along Marieville Esplanade, admiring the luxurious waterfront mansions and the Royal Tasmanian Yacht Club’s squadron of sailing boats. Then walk east along Sandy Bay Road for five minutes to Wrest Point Casino (Australia’s oldest), where your ride awaits on the helipad. A 20-minute Par Avion helicopter flight over Hobart takes in all the highlights, from Tasman Bridge and Bellerive Oval to the city’s patron peak, Mount Wellington. Or set a course north to Pontville and touch down beside the Gothic splendour of Shene Estate (76 Shene Road), a Colonial pile turned into a gin and whisky distillery. Take a behind-the-scenes tour with the owners (by appointment) then chopper back to Wrest Point Casino and call a cab.

Taste a top drop

18:30: Head to Willing Bros Wine Merchants (390 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart; 03 6234 3053), where Carl Windsor and his hospitable crew await with Tasmanian wines and produce. There’s a huge collection of wines to choose from, sourced from intriguing makers across the state, the country and the world. The short menu of “wine food” might include chicken liver parfait and a “bacon” made from smoked duck breast. If it’s there, have a taste – Windsor makes it himself.

Toast the shimmering city

20:00: It’s a 25-minute walk down Elizabeth Street to Sullivans Cove and Brooke Street Pier, where the tasteful team behind luxury boutique hotel The Islington have created a jewel box on the water. John Goodyear and David Meredith’s bar and restaurant, The Glass House (Franklin Wharf), is lined with crystal cabinets displaying their collection of Murano glass and cased in floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the shimmering river and city lights. Interiors of copper bars, beaten-silver tabletops and marsupial-print settees strike the right balance between glamour and good humour. Toast the moment with a glass from the Tasmanian-focused wine list or a snifter of something stronger (the whisky selection is impressive).

End on a high

21:00: Walk upstairs to Aloft (Brooke Street Pier), a restaurant open scarcely a year but already renowned for original, Asian-accented Tasmanian dishes such as the pig’s ear cooked in master stock and spiked with Sichuan pepper and the condensed-milk ice-cream with dollops of coffee-and-salted-caramel syrup and scraped frozen shortbread. The calibre of the kitchen is thanks to chefs Glenn Byrnes, a graduate of Rockpool and Garagistes, and Christian Ryan, ex-Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill in London. Aloft’s dining room soars above the Derwent River and captures twinkling views of the harbour city that almost eclipse the food, but not quite. 

SEE ALSO: Explore Hobart’s Waterfront