Hobart, the capital of the ‘Apple Isle’ Tasmania, is also home to good friends of mine, so I’ve been lucky to be a frequent visitor. Here are my five favourite things from Australia’s postcode 7000:
1. Fresh air and attitude: The minute you arrive at the airport, everything is more chilled – both in attitude, and probably temperature too. The air is fresh, the surrounds are quieter, and less traffic and rushing just makes for a great wind-down. Slow food, not fast food, is popular so why not pick up some local goods as Salamanca Market, and then enjoy it in Saint Davids Park nearby, before wandering the old streets and get some fresh air into your lungs.
2. Pigeon Hole: Known as ‘Pidge’ to my friends, as the real name suggests, it does not have the largest floor plan, but the food is delicious, the menu reliable, and the feel very neighbourly. Each time I’ve been here, the baked eggs with taleggio cheese, preserved lemon and parsley have been impossible to go past. A good spot for coffee or quick brunch (or a takeaway tasty cake). All bread is made by ‘Pidge’ at their offsite bakery (and the bread you are served at many a local restaurant is probably from Pigeon Hole).
3. Tip shops: You read right. It is a shop full of things salvaged from the tip. In line with Tasmania’s reputation for having a strong environmental conscience, you can find books, homewares, old electrical goods, pre-loved porcelain, window frames, doors and baths from/for renovations, kids toys and clothes. Go to the tip shops to find a bargain, pick up a pre-loved trinket, or just remind yourself how much good stuff we often throw away.
4. Garagistes restaurant/Sidecar bar: I’m not someone who regularly eats in fancy restaurants but I do appreciate great chef and menu, and I’ve been to this restaurant twice. Garagistes is all about local food and produce, on a set menu, with a Scandinavian influence (the owner worked at the famed Noma in Denmark for a little while). However, I do regularly eat dessert, and their dish featuring basil meringue and honeycomb, among other delicious ingredients, is still my all-time favourite. There are no reservations, but it opens early for dinner so get there early. If you can’t get a seat straight away, you can wait around the corner at their cosy bar, Sidecar.
5. Mona: The the Museum of Old and New Art is contemporary hotspot that made Hobart a magnet for the mainland, and into the Lonely Planet Top 10 Cities. Owned by the very wealthy David Walsh, this museum is filled with his private, eclectic, and at times a little weird, art collection. There are famous names, not so famous names, and a few things you might need to explain to the kids. What there isn’t: labels on the wall next to the art, because you will be given an iPod that will GPS track where you are in the museum, and tell you what you a looking at. Mona also runs a festival, ‘Mona Foma’ in January, which has hosted acts including PJ Harvey and Amanda Palmer, and regularly has concerts on the grounds. Good art needs to enlight all of the senses, so on site is also a restaurant, brewery, winery, cafe, boutique hotel and you can even arrange to make it your final resting place. And don’t worry about finding your way there — there are special Mona ferry and bus services from the centre of the city. The best bit? Entrance is free for Tasmanians, so Mona is making art accessible to more people than ever.