From the mainstream to the off-beat and avant-garde, the cultural possibilities of Australian travel have never looked more exciting than in 2011.

The arts movement began to disperse from its traditional capital-city-centric base back in December 2006, when the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) opened in Brisbane, much to the chagrin of the arty set further south. The space signalled a growing maturity in the northern capital.

The newest centres of cultural significance that are drawing travellers from afar are a little surprising: Canberra and Hobart.
The NGA in Canberra out-blockbustered most big-city galleries this year with its magnificent Masterpieces exhibition. The show gave Canberra back its cultural credentials.
It has capitalised on this with the recently opened indigenous wing of the NGA and an ever-expanding list of exhibition spaces. Add a swathe of chic new hotels, wineries and restaurants and the era when Canberra was a backwater only suitable for torturing school kids with awful dioramas has long gone. We described the importance of the new NGA wing aptly in our AT Wire enewsletter: “Another Reason Why Canberra Doesn’t Suck”. It’s a headline we are bound to repeat a lot in 2011.

But the most important new cultural centre for 2011 will be the Gallery of Old and New Art in Hobart (MONA for short). MONA is the largest private collection of art on public display in the southern hemisphere (worth $100 million). The gallery is about the same size as GOMA and is on the site of sister ventures Moo Brewery, Moorilla Estate cellar door, The Source Restaurant and MONA luxury pavilions. Quite honestly, it’s The Place to go next year. Say you knew about it first.

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