Travel Log: Hobart, Tasmania
Toast of Australia
I believe Tasmania should be the toast of Australia. Most people visiting Australia would go to the iconic cities such as Sydney or Melbourne. Nothing wrong with that. But i like going off the beaten track. My first visit to Tasmania was to Hobart and after spending a week exploring the neighbouring towns, i felt that Tasmania is undervalued. The nature, fantastic food and wine, the cool crisp air and down to earth people left an indelible impression on me. Tasmania will surely feature in my plans for the future. My friend jokingly urged me to start an ashram there!
Getting to Tasmania
I flew into Tasmania from Singapore. Transiting at Melbourne is better than at Sydney because the domestic and international terminals at Melbourne are under one roof and this makes it easier to transit. The flights from Mainland Australia to Tasmania tend to get delayed sometimes. I remember that on a different trip to Tasmania, the plane had airconditioner problems and I got delayed by a hour! I was worried i would miss my connecting flight.
Delicious Risotto at Maldini
When i arrived at Hobart, it was cold and gloomy. This was expected given that i arrived during autumn which is great as i liked the cold. It was a reprieve from the oppressing April heat in Singapore. I stayed at the RACV Hotel at Hobart which was a comfortable place to stay given its proximity to the Hobart harbour.
I was starving after my long, delayed flight from Singapore to Hobart so after unpacking at the hotel, I walked towards Salamanca Place which is well known for its restaurants. My stomach started to growl when i saw the Italian Restaurant Maldini! I loved Italian food! I was greeted by a flamboyant Italian waiter who sensed my hunger and recommended me a seafood Risotto which was excellent!
Breakfast at Daci & Daci Bakers
While i was walking around Hobart town on my first day, i discovered Daci & Daci Bakers and decided to have my breakfast there the next day. In fact, i had breakfast there everyday! The sprightly chinese lady at the espresso machine made excellent coffee. I think Melbourne is overrated for its coffee. Come down to Tasmania. My favourite dish was scrambled eggs, fresh tasmanian salmon and toast.
Take it Easy
The greatest joy is in discovering and exploring new things. I prefer not to have an itinerary during travel and go with the flow. I didn't even use Google Maps and relied more on my instinct and curiosity. The gloom soon made way for blue skies and i decided to saunter around Hobart harbour. This was perfect for a photographer like me!
Catamaran to MONA (Museum of the Old and New Art)
While roaming along Hobart harbour, a military camouflage catamaran was berthed and i found that it went to the MONA Island which has the world famous MONA museum. The catamaran ride from the harbour to the island was more interesting than the Museum itself. The Wellington mountains in the background, the view of River Derwent and the Tasman Bridge made it an excellent ride. The air was very cold and dry and as the catamaran accelerated, the cold was unbearable and i had to move inside the boat.
MONA is famous for its quirky artifacts and though interesting and unique, i didn't find it appealing. MONA also has a vineyard and after having a nice sandwich and wine, i headed back to Hobart. I would definitely recommend the catamaran ride to anyone coming to Hobart.
Giant Trees at Huon Valley
Having experienced the sea, i wanted to experience the land and i have heard that there is a giant tree near Huon Valley area that is older than Christ. To get to Huon Valley, i took a coach. Trekking at Huon Valley was great but i don't think it is a good idea to do it alone. I found myself surrounded by trees during my trek with no one else in sight. The swinging rope bridge and the cantilevered tree top walk gave me some excellent view points of the river and trees. Now, i am wondering where is that giant old tree!
Best Fish and Chips at Blue Eye
Famished and tired after the Huon Valley Trek, I wandered around the Salamanca area after the coach dropped me off there. I chanced upon a slightly upscale restaurant called Blue Eye. The waiters were enthusiastic and friendly and sat me at a table even though i had no reservations. I ordered fish and chips because that was the easiest dish to order at a seafood restaurant! And given i am a wine student, i paired the fish with a cool climate crisp tasmanian chardonnay. It was the best fish and chips i ever tasted and it was a great way to end the evening.
Hobart is also a gateway for Antarctic and Marine Research and just opposite to Blue Eye is the Centre for Marine and Antarctic Studies. The icebreaker ship Aurora Australis sails from this centre to the Antarctic for research missions.
Sad but True
The weather took a turn for the worse the next day and i decided to go to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. I found Our Land: Parrawa, Parrawa! Go Away! exhibition the most interesting and honest as it talked about the Black War, the invasion of the aboriginal lands by the colonialists. It was a sad part of Tasmanian history that was acknowledged.
Tasmania Is also known for its convict history and has housed many British criminals. And some of them were imprisoned for the most petty of thefts. Port Arthur is one of those prison sites which is now converted to a heritage site. I refused to enter certain parts of the prison as i have heard that some parts of it were haunted!
On my way back from Port Arthur, i stopped by at Richmond, which is a quaint town steeped in Britishness. It was a very peaceful place flanked by vineyards and is known for its iconic bridge which was built by convict labour. It was also known to be haunted!
Another interesting site is St John's church in Richmond which is known to be the oldest Catholic Church in Australia.
There were many other places that i could have visited at Hobart or its surrounding areas but time was running out and did not want to stress myself out. I will keep coming back to Tasmania for sure. My personal observation is that Tasmania remains a bit "disconnected" from Mainland Australia. Some of my Aussie friends say it is a backwater place which surprises me. I find the quality of life here to be high in terms of air quality and fresh produce. I believe Tasmania is undervalued. It is a good thing and perhaps better left that way!
© 2019 Sivakumar Sathiamoorthy