Scotland on Sunday, City Guide: Hobart, Australia

City guide: Hobart, Australia

Published on Sunday 3 June 2012 16:09

LONG known for its dark convict heritage, Tasmania is becoming increasingly popular as a wilderness destination the 21st century has not yet reached.

Outdoor types can enjoy hiking through pristine rainforests potted with highland lakes, and sail alongside pink granite mountains and white sand beaches where dolphins dance and sea eagles soar. Boutique vineyards make award-winning wines and local produce is heavenly. But Hobart has another ace up its sleeve. For a capital with a population of just 215,000, it has a remarkably vibrant arts scene and, thanks to the opening of MONA last year (see below), this tiny capital city has made a bigger splash in the cultural scene.


Love it or hate it, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) cannot be ignored. A fabulous building, excavated three levels down through a sandstone cliff overlooking the Derwent River, the space juxtaposes the ancient and contemporary art from founder David Walsh’s vast and eccentric collection, and has become Tasmania’s biggest visitor attraction since opening in January 2011. Disturbing, provocative, unique – and not to be missed. Get there by water on the Brooke Street ferry. 655 Main Road Berriedale (


The next landfall south of Tasmania is the Antarctic, and research ships leave from    Hobart. Although part-closed for renovation, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery’s three Antarctic exhibitions are still open, featuring the 100th anniversary of the 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, artists inspired by Antarctica and the natural phenomena of the continent. 5 Argyle Street (





If you are after a little something to take home, visit north Hobart, home of the alternative art scene and the famous Bett Gallery ( and C.A.S.T. (, which exhibit works by some of the best known Tassie artists.


The fashionable Salamanca area is packed full of art and craft shops featuring carvings in exotic timbers such as blackheart sassafras, jewellery stores and artists’ studios.

On Saturdays, 300 licensed traders congregate in Salamanca Place for a popular market that sells everything from

organic leatherwood honey to one-off items of clothing and handcrafted gifts.


A trendy concept restaurant in north Hobart, Garagistes is considered one of the city’s best eateries. In a cavernous one-time garage, with shared tables and no booking, it features an extensive international wine list, locally sourced produce and home-smoked and cured foods. The ever-changing menu is as artistically innovative as it is tongue-twisting.

103 Murray Street (00 61 3 6231 0558,


The Islington is not only the best hotel in town, a delicious marriage of Regency and contemporary architecture nestling in gardens beneath the hulking mass of Mount Wellington, this boutique residence also houses an eclectic collection of Asian, classical and contemporary art. If you think you’ve seen it before, it’s probably a Hockney.

321 Davey Street (


The long, long journey Down Under need not be a trial. Qantas Business Class ( offers a range of up-to-date and classic films, including arthouse and Aussie movies to get you in the mood. Enjoy them with a glass of bubbly from your bed or in the lounge. Contact Turquoise Holidays (01494 678400, or the local tourist agency (


Christine Scott, curator of the Henry Jones Art Hotel, and Sarah Beith, of Despard Gallery, offer two-hour specialist art walks around the city. They might include visits to studios or special viewings, with experienced guides.


It is worth dropping in to the bar of the Henry Jones Art Hotel, a former jam factory on Macquarie Wharf, for a pre-prandial cocktail. A popular meeting place surrounded by original artworks, it has gorgeous views over Sullivans Cove.

25 Hunter Street (+03 6210 7700,


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