Hobart, gateway to the wild

Hobart, the capital of Australia’s most southerly state, Tasmania, is a great destination.

There are many reasons to visit Tasmania, Lonely Planet recently noted: “It’s a joint effort in Tassie – the home of the world’s first green political party – where local produce plays a starring role at restaurants, hotels are moving to ban single-use plastics en masse, and activity operators are committed to ensuring clients tread lightly, all of which help to safeguard one of the last truly wild places on Earth.”

The Gordon River on Tasmania’s West Coast

Hobart acts as a bounce point for day trips to the wildness of Bruny Island, to hiking and cycling trails, the fertile Huon Valley with its artisan producers and one of Australia’s few game restaurants (Old Bank of Geeveston), wineries in the Coal Valley and Derwent Bridge areas, the 19th century penal colony of Port Arthur, the farming areas of Tasmania’s Midlands before journeying on to the wild West Coast, Freycinet’s Wineglass Bay and the East Coast, or to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). (For your trip to MONA be sure to book the Posh Pit on the ferry. You’ll be served bottomless award-winning Moorilla wine with a light meal.It’s the most suitable introduction we can think of to one of Australia’s most famous, or infamous, museums.)

A ‘wild’ dining experience at the Old Bank of Geeveston

Hobart is not only a landing point and base, but also a destination in its own right. Every journey must start somewhere. So, let’s start in Hobart, the most picturesque and accessible capital city in Australia.

Port Arthur historical site, a day trip from Hobart

From the 1,270m-high Mount Wellington (or from a seaplane) you can get sweeping views of the harbour and outlying waterways. Huddled around Constitution Dock, its harbour is fronted by charming historic buildings filled with restaurants, art and craft.

One of our most accessible cities, it only takes a few hours to walk around Hobart town and see many of its points of interest. Yet there’s a lot to see over several days, including museums, galleries, historic buildings, breweries and distilleries as well as markets.

Hobart, a picturesque city slung around its waterfront

Somewhere to stay

There’s a range of accommodation available in Hobart to suit most budgets, from modern hotels to historic pubs. We always keep in mind the ‘walkability’ factor, how easy it is to get around, as well as comfort if the weather is cool.

Salamanca Wharf Hotel is a self-contained apartment hotel. Our studio apartment not only has a spacious lounge and dining area, it also has both a full kitchen and laundry, essentials for a longer stay.

The open living area at the Salamanca Wharf Hotel
A touch of luxury at the Salamanca Wharf Hotel

Backing onto Salamanca Place, the hotel is well appointed and handy to restaurants and galleries, Saturday’s Salamanca Market (one of Hobart’s top tourist attractions), and it’s just a couple of blocks from the city centre.

Salamanca Place houses many galleries, restaurants and the Salamanca Markets, held each Saturday

Something to eat

For a small city, Hobart more than packs a punch on the food and wine scene. From small quirky cafes to hatted restaurants, it’s easy to find dining options to suit your taste and budget.

Seafood from Mures Lower Deck. Their chowder is famous.

The cooler southerly climes make us long for comfort food. Close to our hotel, the convict built RockWall Bar + Grill is one of our favourite restaurants on Salamanca Place for steak and fish. Machine Laundry Café is a quirky choice for a rustic breakfast or lunch. No, the name is not a lie. You can wash your laundry there while dining or playing chess on the huge board outside, or wander up the stairs to Battery Point’s Jackman & McRoss for pastries.

Lunch at The Glass House, Brooke Street Pier, Hobart

The Glass House offers a terrific lunch overlooking the harbour, while nearby you can eat at Mures or on the wharf.

Machine Laundry Cafe – rustic food, great coffee, a laundry and chess

Salamanca Market, held every Saturday, is Hobart’s most famous craft and food market. We love their range of quirky crafts and usually have a shopping list of items to buy, even before we start on food. Who can resist a beanie with a possum on top? And of course, every foodie needs a Sassafras bread knife that measures each slice so you don’t hack the bread off in chunks! Add an interesting Mediterranean breakfast and that’s us done, but I’m sure you’ll find interesting items to purchase.

Bruny Island plum puddings

For foodies, the Farm Gate Market held every Sunday morning are a real treat, especially around Christmas time. They show off artisanal food and produce not seen elsewhere, from bread, sweets and pastries to heirloom produce. We never leave empty-handed and even order our Christmas puddings directly from a Bruny Island artisan maker who we found at these markets.

Chef Pete preparing our meal from scratch at Ed’s Spuntino
Meatballs at Ed’s Spuntino

After the markets, make a stop forlunch at Ed’s Spuntino, just a block away. As we sip a coffee, we watch Chef Pete make meatballs with house made tagliatelle from scratch, his four-hour sauce and pecorino on top. It’s a delicious meal! Plates of handmade gnocchi sit waiting to be claimed. With a glass of Italian wine in hand, this is a gem of a place. It’s as personal a dining experience as you are ever likely to get; an experience we’ve only found in Tasmania.

Bar Wa Izakaya has great atmosphere, food and drink.

While there is a plethora of dining opportunities close to the docks, make sure you visit North Hobart for some unique dining opportunities. If you don’t have a car, it’s a longer walk, or a short cab or Uber ride.

Chilli omelette at Room for a Pony

We love both Born in Brunswick and Room for a Pony for their Melbourne-style café culture, Bar Wa Izakaya for its funky vibe and belly-filling ramen, seafood and sake, and the bespoke Templo for its innovative food and interesting wine list, but these are just a few of our favourites.

Something to drink

With a car, we venture further out to award-winning wineries and distilleries.  

Pooley Wines cellar door
Lunch at Frogmore Creek Winery

Travelling north to the picturesque town of Richmond, (which is worth a few hours’ stop for its galleries and Richmond Gaol alone), the Coal River Valley makes a great day trip visiting wineries such as Pooley Wines, Tolpuddle Vineyard and Frogmore Creek, where the lunch is excellent, some dishes as beautiful as a garden. Coal River Farm and Wicked Cheese are also worth a visit.

Frogmore Creek Winery

Stefano Lubiana Winery & Osteria and Derwent Estate Vineyards both offer tastings of their superb wines, worth a trip or a stopping point if you are heading to The Agrarian Kitchen in New Norfolk.

Cascade Brewery, the oldest continuously producing brewery in Australia

Beer lovers are not forgotten either. Overlooked by Mt Wellington, Cascade Brewery has been making beer continuously since 1824. Besides the atmospheric building and delightful gardens, the brewery tour is also worth taking. Be sure to book for your brewery experiences, including a stop for lunch in the restaurant.

The atmospheric Cascade Brewery tasting room and restaurant

Tasmania is home to some of our best distilleries, including Lark Distillery (which has a tasting room close to Constitution Dock), Sullivan’s Cove Whisky and Old Kempton Distillery, a short drive away in the Midlands. Old Kempton Distillery also has a café and can supply a tour and tapas platter if you book ahead.

Old Kempton Distillery, less than 50km from Hobart

As your last supper, allow enough time for your final taste of Tasmania at Barilla Bay Oysters, very close to the airport. The taste of salt will linger on your tongue until you get home.

Barilla Bay oysters

No matter how far you travel, the memory of Tasmania’s wildness and its grounded, local produce-driven cuisine will remain on your memory for a long time. If you have planned ahead, you may even have a case of Tasmanian wine waiting for you at home so that, upon your return, you can continue your taste journey!

Stefano Lubiana wines

NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast were guests at some of these experiences.

Read more about Tasmania on Good Food Gold Coast:

Huon, the valley of fresh

Tasmania’s Wild West

Make a stop in Tasmania’s Heartlands

Fresh Traditions at Osteria @ Petty Sessions

Two Paddocks to Plate (Fat Pig Farm and The Agrarian Kitchen)

A Tasmanian Getaway

Hobart TAS, Australia