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Walk down any street in Hobart and you’ll feel a real sense of history that takes just the lightest of scratches to unveil. A mix of salty sea air, beautiful architecture unique to its place and natural environment that is as easy to access as it is formidable, blend together to bewitch all who visit. All of this in just an initial impression - a pretty good start to your affair with this charming capital of Australia’s unique island state, Tasmania.
The phrase “invention is the mother of necessity” probably had its beginnings here as being surrounded by water can do that to a state. Hobart is renowned for breaking new ground - in food innovation with its locally made beer, whiskey and wine - and for being home to the controversial and unforgettable homegrown but internationally acclaimed Museum of Old and New Art – MONA.
Hobart the enchantress lures hipsters and hippies, walkers and wine lovers, hardened travellers and history buffs with her intoxicating cauldron of delights. Just one week in Australia’s most southern city can see you fulfill each one of these sides of yourself with relative ease. So don your hip/designer/comfortable/practical walking shoes and get ready to be wooed by all the old, the new, the hip and the true blue that the old girl has to offer.
A great start would be to get your bearings with a bird’s eye view of the city and the meandering Derwent River from Mt Wellington, with a viewing platform that will make you feel like you have wings. Well thought out interpretive signage will give you a sense of place and prepare you for your days ahead.
Now is as good a time as any to experience your first local culinary delight with a Scallop Pie. These little delicacies of Aussie-fast-food-meets-the-sea are not to everyone’s taste but definitely worth a try. Now you may well have the energy to make your way along the river’s edge to Battery Point - one of the most authentic ways to step back in time with its rows of historical cottages and drinking holes. It is steeped with the historical presence of convicts and bushrangers, whalers and sailors, barmaids and prostitutes, cannibals and criminals – an important part of the social fabric of this place.
And now for some serious, and not so serious, culture.
Save a whole day for your MONA experience – you won’t regret it. The best way to arrive is by water, so it’s a good thing that MONA offers a regular return ferry service for just $22 return. This is the perfect way to see some of the ever present Derwent River and learn a little more of historic Hobart as your captain provides an entertaining and insightful commentary along the journey.
So much has already been said about the MONA experience and reactions range from amazement and joy to shock and disgust. So diverse is the collection on show that truly beautiful, revolting and bizarre works can all be spotted within a few steps.
After numerous hours taking in the three underground floors of art – old and new – come up for air and prepare for yourself for more. This place is like an indulgence for the senses, and now that your eyes, ears and mind are full, it’s time for the food, wine and beer. That’s right, the MONA site comes complete with its own brewery (Moo Brew), cellar door (Moorilla) and restaurant (The Source). Happen to arrive on a Saturday? The Mona Markets (MoMa) will be in full swing and as if that wasn’t enough, two annual festivals MoFo (Summer - January) and Dark MoFo (Winter – June) take over pockets of the city to spread the cultural tentacles even further.
Back in town - whiskey tastings, ingenious local restaurant menus, Salamanca markets and the art district will keep your senses sparking – and we’ve only just skimmed the surface of all that is Hobart.