It wasn’t so long ago that the Australian mainland considered its southern island cousin as something of a backwater. But no longer. Tasmania is having the last laugh as a prime destination for travellers wanting great food, wine, art and history. And the capital, Hobart, is at the vanguard of Tasmania’s renaissance. In 2013, it was named one of the Top 10 Cities in the World by Lonely Planet.
Here, how to experience the best the city has to offer – in a day.
A clean start
Hobart isn’t short of places for great coffee and breakfast but for something a little different, head to Machine Laundry Cafe. Arrive early to snare a seat in the retro laundromat (yes, you can do your washing while you eat) reimagined as a café. For serious fuel, the porridge is a traditional winner but the pick is the “Old New Eggs”, served with beetroot relish. Over at Pigeon Hole Café, they take their pickling and preserves as seriously as their coffee and brunch menu. As much of the fare as possible on the daily changing menu comes from a single local farm.
Machine Laundry Cafe: 12 Salamanca Sq, city. Pigeon Hole Cafe: 93 Goulburn St, West Hobart; pigeonholecafe.com.au
To market, to market…
If you’re lucky enough to pitch up on a Saturday, the Salamanca Markets are a non-negotiable post-breakfast visit. More than 300 stallholders pack the Hobart waterfront selling everything from local cheese and pork products to handmade local fashion, jewellery and glassware. Make sure you wander down the side alleys where hidden gems lurk in the niches of the gorgeous Georgian facades.
Every Saturday (except Christmas Day and Anzac Day), 8am-3pm, Salamanca Place, city
More than any other attraction, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is emblematic of Hobart’s coming of age. Set up by enigmatic entrepreneur David Walsh, this brilliant (and sometimes confronting) art gallery – the largest private museum in the country – shows everything from ancient Egyptian works to evocative contemporary art. Take the ferry from the centre of town direct to MONA and, after a tour of the gallery, stay for lunch at The Source restaurant where you can sample Moorilla wine and Moo Brew beer, both also part of Walsh’s empire.
655 Main Rd, Berriedale; (03) 6277 9900; mona.net.au
Ye olde stroll
Unless you’ve got time to climb Mount Wellington or pop out to Bruny Island, take a leisurely afternoon stroll to the historic Battery Point precinct. Located just south of the CBD, you can take in colonial architecture that is largely unchanged from the 1800s, including the Greek Revival house, Narryna, built in 1840 and now a museum.
Narryna Heritage Museum, 103 Hampden Rd, Battery Point
It’s all Greek …
Urban Greek’s main game is a roll call of every mouthwatering Hellenic dish you can imagine, from dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with flavoured mince meat and rice) and spanakopita (spinach pie) to char-grilled octopus and galaktoboureko (custard-filled filo pastry doused in syrup). But it’s also a great spot for a drink: pull up a stool at the bar and nibble on a few small delicacies. There’s an excellent range of local wines as well as a handful of fascinating Greek imports.
103 Murray St, city, (03) 6109 4712
To dine for
Scandinavian by design, Spanish-Italian in flavour and Tasmanian in its sourcing, Smolt is the perfect place for a celebratory meal in Hobart. Set on Salamanca Square and soaked with light, Smolt’s kitchen turns out a finely honed, daily-changing menu of tapas and more substantial mains depending on what’s available from local farmers and fishmongers. Expect nosh such as Tasmanian oysters baked with pancetta and garlic butter or house-made saffron fettuccine with veal ragu. Wash it all down with a glass of local pinot while you start thinking about your return trip.
2 Salamanca Sq, city; smolt.com.a