For all you art-loving foodies, Erin Cooper shares her inside knowledge of Hobart, Tasmania’s capital.
I’m Erin, and I’m what one would call a Hobartian, i.e. someone who lives in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania. The entire state of Tasmania (that little island at the bottom of any map of Australia), has a population of about 500,000 people, with 200,000 of those living in Hobart. Statistics aside, you should all come to Hobart. Literally everybody should visit my wonderful hometown. Here are 10 reasons why:
- Salamanca Market
Sure, this is the most generic tourist hotspot in Hobart, but it’s highly visited for a reason. The market sprawls the length of the Salamanca area every Saturday morning, selling everything from handmade candles, to locally produced whiskey, honey, wood materials and doggie treats. If it can be made out of felt, Tasmanian pine wood or local Merino wool, Salamanca Market has got it. It’s also one of the best places to chat with the locals and watch buskers. Be sure not to eat before you come. There is so much food to experience. You want crepes? Salamanca Market. Bratwurst sausage? Salamanca Market. Dutch pancakes? Salamanca Market. You get my drift.
Salamanca Market operates every Saturday morning and entry is free. A free shuttle to the market has several stops around the city. See here for details.
2. Constitution Dock
Keep walking along the waterfront from Salamanca and you’ll find yourself in Constitution Dock. This is Tasmania’s answer to the French Riviera; it’s just as beautiful, but considerably cheaper. Constitution Dock plays host to the best fish and chips in Hobart in both conventional and floating restaurants, freshly made to order and caught in Tassie waters. Mako Fish and Mures Lower Deck are always great options. It’s definitely a view you can’t miss.
3. The State Cinema
Welcome to one of the best cinemas you’ll ever set foot in. Constructed in 1913, the State Cinema is still screening films today, making it one of the oldest operating cinemas in the country. They screen a mixture of award-nominated, foreign, arthouse and animated films, with eight screens of varying sizes. If you’re lucky, you’ll get one of the smaller theatres with a twenty-person capacity, complete with leather couches instead of traditional cinema seating. The State, as it’s locally known, has an accompanying café, bar and the usual popcorn and choc-tops (ice cream in a cone topped with a layer of chocolate) fare, but that’s just the beginning. In the summer, a rooftop cinema and bar swings into action, and the neighbouring State Cinema Bookshop is phenomenal. They have travel guides, photography, literature, fiction and of course, books about film and directors.
The State Cinema and bookstore are open seven days a week. They can be found at 375 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart. Visit their website for session times and other information.
4. North Hobart Precinct
Although North Hobart is gaining momentum, it is still one of the most under-rated and under-visited areas of Hobart. North Hobart is host to some of the best restaurants in the city from a diverse range of cuisines. There’s Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean, Italian and Thai, just to name a few. If you’re after a good coffee, North Hobart is the place for that too. And it’s only a ten minute walk from the Central Business District (CBD). Anyone for a food coma?
5. The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)
Tasmania has recently seen an increase in tourist traffic, and most of that can be attributed to MONA. MONA is the brainchild of former professional gambler David Walsh, who funded the entire museum (and all of the works of art inside it) for two reasons. Firstly, he felt a sense of guilt for not using his many millions of dollars made through gambling on something good, and secondly, because he believed Tasmania needed more exposure to arts and culture. Fascinating for its creation alone, the art varies from a wall of vaginas moulded in cement, to contemporary photography and an Olympic swimming pool-sized painting by famous Australian artist Sidney Nolan. But the museum itself is part of a much larger arts emphasis in Hobart, with Walsh funding and organising two festivals a year, Dark MOFO in June and MONA FOMA in January. Hobart literally transforms during these times, with art installations popping up all over the city as it plays host to international artists, musicians, performance artists, pop-up nightclubs, film screenings and light displays.
MONA lies on the outskirts of Hobart. You can get there by car or public bus, but MONA also offers the MONA ROMA shuttle bus and MR-I fast ferry. There are two restaurants and two bars on site, as well as luxury accommodation. Museum admission is free for Tasmanian citizens, $20 for adults, $15 for concessions and free for anyone under 18. For more information on getting there, bookings and current exhibitions, click here.
6. Mount Wellington
The entirety of Hobart sits under the majestic shadow of Mount Wellington, or Mount Welly. Going to the top offers a full aerial view of Hobart and surrounds, and it’s stunning. If you’re in Hobart during the winter, prepare yourself for sub-zero temperatures and a lot of snow. There is an indoor viewing room and several lookouts on the top. And the best part? You can drive all the way to the top (although you can climb it if you like). I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
7. Theatre Royal
Theatre Royal is Australia’s oldest theatre. It was originally constructed in 1834 and opened in 1837. Although it’s been refurbished since then, it maintains all its heritage features, and stages fantastic plays, musicals and dance pieces from Tasmania, Australia and around the world. They offer tours of the building and its workings, for those who love their history and theatre.
Guided tours take place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11am. The cost of a tour is $15 for adults, $12 concession and $10 child, tours run for approximately 45-60 minutes. Visit their website for more information.
8. Honey Badger Dessert Café
Two words: dessert, and café. Honey Badger is tucked away in Salamanca Square, and it’s heavenly. With both summer and winter menus, you’re guaranteed to find your choice of dessert somewhere (the apple crumble is my personal favourite). If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, they also do breakfast and great coffee. A considerable amount of the dishes are gluten-free, and they even have alcohol, if you’re so inclined.
Honey Badger is open 10am-10pm Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday, and until 11pm Friday and Saturday. They don’t accept reservations, so walk on in! You can find them on Facebook and on Instagram at @hbdessertcafe.
9. The New Sydney Hotel
Every trip to somewhere in Australia should involve a pub. One of the best in Hobart is right in the CBD. The New Sydney Hotel is toasty and warm in the winter and has a great selection of local and international wines, craft beers and spirits. They also provide a great pub-style menu, which is more diverse than just a parmie-and-chips (chicken parmigiana and chips. It’s essentially a chicken schnitzel topped with tomato pasta sauce, ham and cheese. The chicken parmie is an Australian pub mainstay!). The New Sydney has live music weekly, and also hosts social science forums in the upstairs area.
The New Sydney Hotel is on Bathurst Street in the CBD. It’s open every day of the week including public holidays.
10. The Macquarie Street/Murray Street Intersection
Yes, it is just an intersection, but worth visiting just to say you’ve been there. This intersection is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere with sandstone buildings on all four corners. Is it trivial? Yes. Is it interesting? Also yes. Besides, you may as well see it while you’re wandering around the CBD.
Despite having lived in Tasmania for my entire life, I’m only just realising now how lucky I am. I live in a beautiful place, and Hobart should definitely be on any tourist’s checklist when visiting Australia. I’ll meet you at Salamanca?
Featured Image: The View from Mount Wellington © Erin Cooper