From humble beginnings to the cosmopolitan city that it is today, Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, is rightfully dubbed ‘a historic city reinventing itself’ by Lonely Planet.
HOBART is the only Australian city, albeit the smallest, to be listed in the Top 10 Cities to visit in 2013 by Lonely Planet in its Best In Travel 2013 tome.
Once a convict settlement in the 19th century, a whaling hub, a ship-building port and still very much a picturesque seaside town, Hobart is snugly cuddled between Mount Wellington and River Derwent.
Being the second oldest capital city in Australia, it has much of the old elements still intact, even as modern ones are weaved into its fabric. According to Lonely Planet, the best place to unwind is at Islington Hotel.
Built in 1847, this boutique luxury hotel with rooms filled with antiques, artefacts and contemporary art is redolent of the Victorian era.
Hobart’s ranking in the Top 10 list has much to do with its art scene. The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), located on the banks of the Derwent River at Berridale, a half-hour ferry ride from the city, is known to house thought-provoking and at times shocking exhibits.
Meanwhile the second oldest museum in Australia, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), is one of the few museums worldwide to combine museum, art gallery and herbarium.
Hobart’s intricate art scene trickles its way to its shopping scene. It’s a great place to find fine wood crafts, wilderness photography, arts and crafts and wool products. There’s also fresh produce at the local markets like cheese, chocolate and Tasmania’s unique leatherwood honey.
Markets to check out: Salamanca Market on Saturdays and the Farm Gate Market on Sundays.
Eateries like Garagistes and Ethos are recommended for their focus for organic, sustainable, biodynamic and local ingredients.
Tasmania’s clean and green surroundings produces the fresh and sweet products proudly served in Tasmania’s cafés and restaurants located all over the state. At Christmas Hills Raspberry Café, anything and everything related to the luscious berry is available. There’s even raspberry sundae and raspberry lip balm.
The Barilla Bay Oyster Farm offers tours and samplings of freshly shucked oysters. Sorell Fruit Farm offers a pick-your-own-fruit in season. And on the riverbank at Claremont lies the world-renowned Cadbury Chocolate Factory which offers a tour.
For those who would like something with more grit, Lark Distillery offers a tour and a dose of its silky smooth whiskies.
A different type of tour, noted by Lonely Planet is Louisa’s Walk. An unforgettable way to immerse oneself in a haunting history and culture, this tour tells the story of a female prisoner Louisa’s conviction and transportation to Hobart’s infamous Female Factory during the city’s darker days.
On Saturdays, Salamanca Place, a picturesque and historic part of the waterfront with old warehouses dating back to the 1830s, is the place to be as the area comes alive with a market that emphasises local products, artisanal goods and organic produce.
Also found in Salamanca is retro fashion, Antarctic images, fruit loaves and jewellery by emerging Tassie designers. And the sound of bands playing gypsy, jazz and swing resonates through the atmosphere.
In the summer there are some noteworthy festivals to look out for – the Taste Festival showcasing Tasmanian food and wine on Hobart’s waterfront; the iconic Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race; MONAFOMA’s contemporary music and arts festival; and biennial arts festival Ten Days on the Island, held in some 111 venues over 60 locations.
With a population of some 200,000 people, Hobart is blissfully uncrowded. Getting around within the city is a breeze with the free ArtsBike initiative − also given a nod by Lonely Planet. Also, there is an Island Cycle Tour taking visitors on a thrilling 22km ride from Mount Wellington, or perhaps a two-hour sea kayak around the waterfront with Pedal ’n’ Paddle tours.
The best part about moving about in Tasmania is that the vehicles are driven on the left-hand side of the road like in Malaysia. And four-wheel drive vehicles are available for adventurous souls who want to explore the many off-road opportunities presented in the great Australian outdoors.
Tasmania has natural, cultural and breathtaking locations encompassing some 40% of the state.
There are lots of outdoorsy wonders awaiting in Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park, while the Wineglass Bay Cruise enables visitors to admire its white sands, turquoise water, emerald forests and blue skies.
On the Freycinet Peninsula there is a luxury lodge overlooking the panoramic view of the Hazards Mountain. The more adventurous sort can kayak across Promise Bay to uncover for themselves deserted coves and beaches.
South of Hobart near Geeveston, the Tahune Forest is one of the state’s more accessible natural areas. There’s Tahune AirWalk, a 48m forest canopy on a suspended 600m walk trail, and you can also zip-line through the canopy and across the wild Huon River or hang glide on the Eagle Glide across the river on a guided cableway.
Cradle Mountain, on the other hand, is touted as the symbol of Tasmanian World Heritage Area. Witness many of the mountain’s moods from misty mornings to Dove Lake’s mirror-image reflections.
In addition, there’s more to the mountain than just an abundance of ancient rainforests, waterfalls and wildlife encounters. Visitors can indulge in luxurious lodges and enjoy gourmet meals and soothing spas or stay in wilderness cabins.
Don’t be too surprised if you spot one of the many native animals around the accommodation. These wildlife creatures roam freely around the lodge and, if you’re lucky, you might be able to spot the unique Tasmanian Devil.
Source: Tourism Tasmania/Tourism Australia. Malaysia Airlines flies from KL to Melbourne 14 times per week. Then take internal flights to Hobart. Visit www.malaysiaairlines.com.
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