When I told people I was visiting Hobart in June, they thought I was mad. Hobart, in winter? Yes! I gleefully replied. I don't know about you, but wearing an actual coat, let alone thermals to go along with it, is a complete novelty. And a hat, and gloves, and boots! Yes, it is chilly, but the charm of open fireplaces in Hobart abound. In addition, the people are warm and friendly, and there are more indoor activities than you can poke a stick at.
Here is my shortlist of suggestions for must-see-and-do spots around Tassie's capital, divided into the categories that always dictate my itinerary—culture, eating, and shopping. (FYI: I stayed at 55 Davey, a spectacular converted Georgian house right in the city).
If you haven't heard of this place, you must have been living under a rock for the past couple of years. Hobart (and Tasmania's) profile has been raised significantly since the opening of MONA (The Museum of Old and New Art) in 2011: a gregarious and world-class private museum containing some of the most collectable contemporary art alongside exquisite antiquities. I suggest not wasting any time, and getting there as soon as you arrive. The best way to get to the museum is via its own ferry service, which can be booked here. It's a large and disorienting place, and that's the point, so try and go in with no expectations and plenty of time.
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is located right in the centre of the city and has recently undergone a significant refurbishment in light of MONA's roaring success. TMAG has stunning and vast collections that paint a picture of Tasmania's rich history, spanning museum treasures (including spectacular decorative arts and taxidermy collections) through to colonial, modern, and contemporary art, as well as many displays dedicated to the tragic stories of Tasmanian aboriginals. TMAG is one of the best examples of its kind in Australia. It may not be as sexy as MONA, but it is just as worthy of a visit. Not to be missed.
The first thing you will notice about Hobart is the stunning architecture. Walking around you will find yourself wanting to see inside these grand old houses, and in some cases you can. My pick is Narryna, a stunning structure built in the 1830s, and only a short walk from town. Filled with period furniture and objects, and housing an amazing collection of 19th century garments, Narryna is a step back in time. Nearby, is another historic house, Markree, where you can book a tour to take in the gorgeous surrounds. After a visit to one of these gems, be sure to take a walk around Battery Point, the inner-city district of Hobart where these houses are located. It's full of beautiful homes, charming views to the water, and plenty of places for eating and drinking pit-stops.
Be sure to visit the stunning Theatre Royal and either take a tour, or try and see a show. If you're a cinema-lover, head to North Hobart and see a flick at State Cinema (and visit its wonderful adjoining bookstore). In town, head downstairs at the State Library and check out the Allport Museum, which is full of fine and decorative arts treasures.
Not far from the centre of the city lies the Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens, where you can see many historic tree and plant collections dating from the 19th century. If you're after some convict history I suggest Cascades Female Factory, a World Heritage Site that tells the story of female convicts in Tasmania.
Before coming to Hobart I asked friends for suggestions of where to go and what to see. Almost every single one of them told me to eat at Garagistes. After an incredible meal there, I am going to tell you the same. No bookings are taken, and it is an exquisite place, so I suggest going on a weeknight, and getting there when they open, at 6. Also check out their more casual sister space, Sidecar.
Farm Gate takes place every Sunday, beginning at the civilised hour of 9am. It's not big, but you'll find local produce of the highest calibre, along with homemade treats, meats, and seafood. If you're looking for a place to get supplies during the week, head to Salamanca Fresh.
A petite little café and tea room located in Battery Point, Pollen serves divine beverages and small meals with an emphasis on local organic produce. The cold-pressed juices and sweets (gluten, dairy, and largely sugar free) are also wonderful. Its open fireplace is very welcome on a cold day.
These two spots are my picks for the best coffee in Hobart. While Ecru is a hole in the wall that just serves (excellent) coffee, Tricycle is a lovely locale for breakfast or lunch, located in the Salamanca Arts Centre.
A large patisserie close to the water, Daci & Daci gets my vote for its excellent sweet and savoury options. Eat in, or stock up on baked goods to keep you going on a walk along the docks.
Nannas know how to do it best. Jams, cakes, tea cosies, and relishes galore. Just up from the site of the Farm Gate market, the CWA ladies are well worth a visit and always happy for a natter.
Easily one of my favourite boutiques in Hobart, Store & co. is a dream come true for an eclectic object lover such as me. You will find antique and vintage finds combined with new items including soft furnishings, clothing, accessories, and books, all carefully edited and lavishly presented. Sublime.
This inner-city store strikes a wonderful balance between homewares, accessories, gifts, books, and stuff for kids. Not your average homewares shop, Inside is the place that you'll find that perfect leather weekend bag, or an unusual piece of contemporary jewellery.
Located above street level, Oyster and Pearl is a small boutique dedicated to locally made and limited-edition womenswear and accessories. If you're looking for a unique item of clothing that you won't find anywhere else, Oyster & Pearl is a little haven in downtown Hobart.
A shopping itinerary wouldn't be complete without a list of antique stores, especially in a city so full of history! On Bathurst Street in town you will find Stonewall Antiques (a small but well-priced store covering a variety of eras and genres) and Antiques to Retro (a larger space with modern and antique furniture, art, and objects alongside vintage clothing and jewellery). Down near the water and Mawson Place, head to Gerard Willems Antique Prints & Maps (for an original historic lithograph of Hobart) and Kent & Kent Antiques (for serious antique finds). In Battery Point, take a visit to Kookaburra Antiques, which has an impressive array of second–hand books, antiques, and vintage clothing. While there, be sure to also visit Rapid Eye Books, just a few doors up, for an excellent and well-priced selection of second-hand titles.
Image credit: Spiritland