A weekend in Hobart, Tasmania

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Tasmania has always been known for the beauty of its rugged landscape. Visitors have long travelled to this southern island of Australia to marvel at the ancient forests, the stunning mountains and mile after mile of unspoilt, white, sandy beaches. And there is no shortage of experiences to enjoy the scenery whether it be the famous boat trip up the Gordon River where you can almost touch the ancient forests lining its banks, the walk through the rugged Cradle Mountain National Park, the less onerous Bay of Fires walk or the thrilling boat trip to see the marine life off south-east Tasmania.

However, there are now new attractions that are drawing people southwards. The best known of these, of course, is the unique MONA set on a promontory in the tranquil Derwent River a few kilometres north of the centre of Hobart. Here you can spend days revelling in ancient and modern art treasures of staggering beauty. MONA is sometimes confronting, sometimes bizarre, but always exciting and compelling.

In the past many visitors left Tasmania with the vague feeling that the meals they ate in restaurants somehow didn't always do justice to the much-hyped produce that is found in abundance. Now however, there are restaurants that are committed to sourcing the freshest and best of local produce and cooking it with care, attention and skill.

So here is how you can make the most of a short weekend stay in Hobart. Fly down on Friday evening choosing from accommodation that ranges from expensive luxury (think Henry Jones Hotel or the Islington Hotel) to excellent value (Red Door Apartment in historic Battery Point).

For dinner you can choose from either Dier Makr in Collins St where Kobi Ruzika is turning out beautifully prepared food made from quality local ingredients or Fico in Macquarie St where Federica Andrisani and Oskar Rossi concentrate on European-influenced dishes including stunning risotto prepared a la minute.

On Saturday morning start by wandering down to the Salamanca Market and enjoy the waterfront ambience before an early breakfast at hidden treasure Tricycle where flavoursome congee or beautiful crumpets or a range of other perfectly cooked dishes are accompanied by very good coffee.

You should then head to North Hobart to try the amazing pastries, ice creams and other treats prepared by Alistair Wise and Teena Kearney at Sweet Envy. On the way to North Hobart, maybe you should stop for some sustenance at Pigeon Whole Bakers in the stunning complex in the Mercury building. They have a retail outlet in front of the busy bakery where you can buy stunning pastries or an Eccles cake or one of the beatifully-made loaves of bread to take away.

Then it is out to MONA for lunch on the lawn and to take in as much as your brain will allow in the museum during the afternoon. You can enjoy a delightful Moo Brew beer in one of the bars if you need a rest.

If MONA is not an experience you are after, perhaps you might book into a cooking class instead at the world class Agrarian Kitchen an hour north of Hobart where you can get expert tuition and hospitality from Rodney Dunn and Severine Demanet.

Back into Hobart you might like to drop into Ettie's in Elizabeth St for a drink (you can also have a very satisfying French-influenced meal here)  before heading for dinner at Franklin in the Mercury complex which is the hottest restaurant in town. Reservations are essential to ensure snaring a table, but if you have forgotten then drop in anyway in case there is a space on the shared table or bar at the front of the restaurant.

On Sunday morning Hobart is fairly sleepy but you can always get an excellent coffee and breakfast at Pilgrim Coffee in the CBD before wandering up to the Farm Gate Market for a relaxing morning talking to producers or line up at chef Masaaki's sushi tent for some freshly made Japanese treats.

Then take a drive to Port Arthur and stop at the Dunalley Fish Market for fish and chips on the pier where they only use the freshest of local fish. On returning to Hobart, head straight for the delightful Templo to enjoy an Italian-influenced meal.

On Monday morning before your flight home, make sure you drop into Bright Eyes in the Brooke Street Pier for one of the best coffees in town.

Reviews of the places mentioned in this article can be found here:

Dier Makr
Sweet Envy
Agrarian Kitchen
Pigeon Whole Bakers
Pilgrim Coffee
Dunalley Fish Market
Bright Eyes

If you are here for longer make sure you check our comprehensive A Food Lovers' Guide to Tasmania.

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Our book recommendation

We recommend the excellent and entertaining book by Alice Feiring who is one of the foremost writers on natural wines.