Maths genius David Walsh has made a fortune from casinos and gambling sites around the world. Now he’s gifted Hobart with the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA
), a 6,000m2 subterranean complex on the banks of the Derwent showcasing his collection of contemporary world art and ancient relics. Entry is free and visitors are guided through the collection with an iPod that tracks their location and tells them about the work they’re looking at. A bit of a Tasmanian devil, Walsh displays his wicked sense of humour in works such as an overweight Ferrari, dozens of plaster casts of vaginas, and a mechanism that digests food. This wonderland of ideas for adults is a 10-minute drive from downtown Hobart or a picturesque 45-minute ferry voyage ($15 return). 655 Main Rd, Berriedale 7011. (03 6277 9900 mona.net.au). Wed–Mon 10am–6pm.
The 20-minute drive to the top of Mount Wellington
promises gobsmacking views but rug up – the peak is snow-capped in the cooler months.
EAT AND DRINK
Grab brekky at the Machine Laundry Café
– a colourful, friendly café that doubles as a laundromat and does a wicked eggs Benedict. 12 Salamanca Sq, Hobart 7004. Mon–Sun 7am–2pm.
Tasmania’s restaurant du jour is Garagistes
– a former garage where ex Tetsuya’s and Noma (Copenhagen) chef Luke Burgess is serving provocations such as crisp black pudding crumbs, sea urchin chawan-mushi and glazed octopus. 103 Murray St, Hobart 7000. (03 6231 0558 www.garagistes.com.au). Wed–Sat 5pm–late; Sun 12 noon–4pm.
One of Hobart’s gastronomic centres, Henry’s Restaurant
at the Henry Jones Art Hotel, offers both popular classics (pork belly fettucine, roasted Redbank duck) and chef Andre Kropp’s ‘evolutions’ alongside a selection of excellent Tassie wines. Mon–Sun 6pm–late
. The cakes and pastries at Sweet Envy
are the stuff of legend – go for a coffee and a tart and try not to collapse in a sugar coma. 341 Elizabeth St, North Hobart 7000. (www.sweetenvy.com). Mon–Sat 8.30am–6pm.
The waterfront strip of colonial sandstone buildings in Salamanca features a number of wine bars and pubs, but our tip is to head to the quiet backstreets of Battery Point to a lovely locals’ pub, the Shipwrights Arms
, where the walls feature naval memorabilia. 29 Trumpeter St, Battery Point 7004. (03 6223 5551).
Hobart’s best stay is the Henry Jones Art Hotel
. Occupying a refurbished IXL jam factory on Hobart’s historic waterfront, the hotel is adorned with more than 300 local artworks and its suites combine original sandstone and exposed beams with ultra-modern glass bathroom pods. 25 Hunter St, Hobart 7000. (www.thehenryjones.com).
For accommodation with 70s and 80s retro appeal and great views of the city and harbour, the Wrest Point
– Australia’s first casino, which opened in 1973 – is the go. It’s also ideal for gamblers and conference-goers. 410 Sandy Bay Rd, Sandy Bay 7005. (www.wrestpoint.com.au).
It’d be a crime not to visit Tasmania’s stunning natural beauty even on a short visit. A drive north to Freycinet National Park
takes under 2.5 hours. Explore pink granite mountains with postcard views of beaches such as famous Wineglass Bay. You can stay right in the national park at Freycinet Lodge
in cosy waterfront cabins and enjoy local produce such as oysters and crayfish in the resort’s The Bay Restaurant. Coles Bay Rd, Coles Bay 7215. (www.freycinetlodge.com.au).
On your way there stop at some wineries just outside Hobart such as Meadowbank
to taste and stock up on the region’s fantastic pinot noir and sparkling white. 699 Richmond Rd, Cambridge 7170. Mon–Sun 10am–5pm.
The historic town of Richmond
is worth a look too, for the oldest still-used bridge in Australia, built by convicts in 1823, and the 1836 St John’s Catholic Church and burial ground. Richmond 7025
. Just before Swansea stop at Kates Berry Farm
for some of the best strawberry and raspberry jams you have ever tasted. 12 Addison St, Swansea 7190. Mon–Sun 9.30am–4.30pm.
Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar all fly to Hobart. Time Out recommends stopping by the Virgin Australia Lounge for a wine and a snack before take-off and catching some Live2Air TV onboard.