The Tasmanian capital has transformed over the last decade; today you’ll find a unique fusion of creativity, heritage, wilderness and culinary prowess.
There’s been a lot for Hobart to write home about over the last decade. When the (quite literally) groundbreaking subterranean Museum Of Old and New Art (MONA) opened in 2011 it proved the catalyst for a cultural renaissance in the Tasmanian capital that’s showing no signs of abating.
All par for the course of a visit today are cutting-edge festivals such as midwinter’s Dark Mofo, hip eateries that make use of the freshest Tassie produce and boutique hotels that key into the city’s heritage and character.
A pretty old port town tucked between the River Derwent and Kunanyi/Mt Wellington, it’s easy to feel like a local here.
Feel like a local
The city is so compact, in fact, that within a couple of days you’ll find you know your way around pretty well and have probably adopted a regular coffee haunt for your morning flat white.
And there’s no better way to introduce yourself to its charms than by exploring its historic waterfront and surrounds on foot.
Here, old piers that stretch out into the harbour and the elegant sandstone buildings that flank it have been repurposed into modern spaces with boutique hotels and waterside eateries; at the vibrant Brooke Street Pier you’ll find a market space for Tasmanian goods and design as well as the departure point for the MONA ferry and other adventures.
A stone’s throw from here, Salamanca Place is home to galleries, theatres and restaurants in its 1830s Georgian warehouses as well as the must-visit Salamanca Market on Saturdays, where you’ll find purveyors of the best local produce.
Take Kelly’s Steps from Salamanca Place to explore the historic suburb of Battery Point – home to the country’s oldest folk museum, Narryna Heritage Museum, an 1830s merchant’s house that tells the story of early colonial life in Hobart, and some of the city’s earliest cottages at Arthur Circus.
History & Culture
Back down near the waterfront, stopping for a sip of Tassie single malt whisky at Lark Distillery en route, the Tasmanian Museum And Art Gallery offers a fascinating insight into the land you’re standing on, including essential learning on the history and culture of the Tasmanian Aboriginal, or palawa, people.
And you don’t have to venture far from Hobart to find Tassie’s famed wilderness. Kunanyi/Mt Wellington is only 20 minutes from the centre by car or the hop-on, hop-off Explorer Bus. From the summit on a clear day you’re treated to a panorama of the city, its waterways and Bruny Island beyond.
How to spend 72 hours in Hobart
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys will take you out of the city to the rugged coastline of pristine Bruny Island on a thrilling wilderness cruise in one of its famous yellow eco boats.
The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens are the second oldest in Australia after Sydney, with 14 hectares of cold-climate flora to explore and a Subantarctic plant house.
A bit of a hidden gem, the Hobart Rivulet offers glimpses of the city’s history as it winds up from the city to the foot of kunanyi/Mt Wellington over 2.7 gentle kilometres.
Along the Rivulet Walk you’ll come across the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site; stop for a while to reflect on the sombre stories of the female convicts this institution once housed.
Further upstream is the Cascade Brewery, which, established in 1824, is Australia’s oldest continuously operating brewery; enjoy a pint of pale ale and cheese plate in its heritage beer garden.
The funky art-filled Alabama Hotel offers affordable rooms with a boutique touch.
Decked out in soul-soothing shades of green on the waterfront, Moss Hotel steeps you in Hobart heritage.
MACq 01 Hotel is a storytelling hotel on Hobart’s historic Macquarie Wharf that brings Tassie’s history to life.
Hobart has perfected the art of fine dining with a twist, with creative chefs working their magic with the freshest produce Tasmania has to offer, from veggies to seafood, in considered spaces tucked into interesting corners of the city.
Try hip neighbourhood Italian joint Templo; CBD bistro Fico and edgy eatery Dier Makr. Or head to In The Hanging Garden, originally devised for Dark Mofo and occupying almost a whole block in the centre of town; this multifaceted venue brings together food trucks from some of the best local producers including Bruny Island Cheese Co.
And acquaint yourself with the homely cafes and bakeries that feel part of the Hobart fabric, such as local institution Jackman & McRoss in Battery Point and the CBD.
Whether it’s your first visit to MONA or your 50th, it’s worth carving out a whole day in your itinerary to explore all this ever-eclectic and always-evolving museum has to offer.
Arrive in style by catching the MONA Ferry: cruising from the waterfront along the River Derwent on a camouflaged catamaran is all part of the immersive experience.
Then spend a few hours underground absorbed in art, curiosities and experiential installations from the likes of light artist James Turrell; the galleries have had a revamp in time for the museum’s 10th birthday with more than 350 highlights spanning ancient to contemporary from owner David Walsh’s idiosyncratic personal collection.
Come up for air to explore the grounds and installations like House of Mirrors by Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney (the world’s largest travelling mirror maze).
For sustenance, choose between The Source Restaurant, burger bar Dubsy’s or futuristic Faro. Then sip on MONA’s own Moorilla wine and Moo Brew beer at the Moorilla Wine Bar. For total immersion, stay the night in one of the luxury Mona Pavilions overlooking the river.
Best walks in Hobart
On the doorstep of Hobart and encompassing Kunanyi/Mt Wellington, Wellington Park is a wilderness laced with walking tracks including the two-kilometre Myrtle Gully Trail and the Organ Pipes Track, one of Tasmania’s 60 great short walks.
Don’t miss: North Hobart
Take a brisk walk up Elizabeth street from Hobart’s CBD to check out the hipster haunts of North Hobart: from cool cafes like Room For A Pony and Born In Brunswick, local institution and live music venue Republic bar & cafe, and an arthouse cinema with great bookshop to browse.
Conscious Traveller trip
Pigeon Hole Cafe in the quiet streets of West Hobart, not far from the city centre, is a cosy little spot that’s committed to a ‘no waste’ food philosophy and supported by its own farm, Weston Farm, guaranteeing only the most seasonal of ingredients end up on your plate at brunch.