March 3-10, 2017
Lovely beginning of autumn days
OK, Hobart, I fall in love with you upon arrival at the airport. A seal sculpture rotates around on the luggage conveyer belt as we await our bags. A naughty group of bronze Tasmanian devils climb all over some luggage in the lobby. This place is going to be fun.
We enjoy our first views of Hobart with green hillsides, blue water, nestled beneath Kunanyi, or Mount Wellington. (In 2013 Tasmania adopted a dual-naming policy as found in other territories in Australia and New Zealand, as a step towards broader recognition of Tasmania’s first peoples.) Our accommodation in Battery Point is Pretoria House Apartment Air B and B, with hostess Nickey McKibben. Charming cottages and stately larger homes butt next to each other over the harbor, just above Salamanca. It is very charming. Also, Battery Point is the birthplace of Errol Flynn (for my Dad). Another plus is the washer and dryer and getting all of our clothes washed.
We walk and swoon and walk and then enjoy a great dinner at Blue Eye. The server describes the wine that comes from her friends winery up the road and knows all about the fish caught today. Ah!
There is an amazing breakfast/brunch cafe a few doors down from where we are staying. It is Jackman and McRoss. I adore it, the croissants are the best ever and all the food looks wonderful. The coffee is great, the service is nice, ambience is just wonderful. This is a new “happy place”.
Then, we meet Hobart Walking Tours. It turns out that it’s just us today and we met our personal guide, Lisa, in front of Henry Jones Art Hotel, at 10AM start to Hobart History, People and Places Walking Tour. We learn the the Henry Jones is the best places to stay during the Sydney to Hobart yacht race every summer, just after Christmas. We learned that they claim to have the cleanest air on earth, the fittest people on earth, that it’s the cheapest Australian capital city in which to live. More interesting yet were the stories of the people of Tasmania. The earliest inhabitants are thought to have arrived in Tasmania 400,000!! years before the English colonists. These Aboriginals were thought to have been separated from mainland Australia’s groups about 10,000 years ago when the seas rose to separate them. Like many native people, they were wiped out due to violent conflict with Europeans and infectious diseases to which they had no immunity. Barry and I were reminded of the US history of atrocities against native Americans and also the inhumane treatment of African slaves. However, I was surprised to hear from the tour guide that many people now living in Tasmania do have traces of Aboriginal DNA.
In 1803 Hobart became a penal colony and the stories of the nearly 75,000 poor souls who were sent there until its closing in 1853 are enough to give anyone nightmares. According to the tales that our guide told, children as young as 11 were sentenced to prison from England to Hobart. She told us a story of many innocent women who were framed of using counterfeit currency were brought to Hobart because they needed women on the island. Even though many of the women were married and had children in England, they were told they were “divorced by way of distance”. The punishment for crimes committed by prisoners in Hobart were especially grusome. Grisly stuff, this! Now, surrounded by such beauty, in another time, this was hell on earth. After the end of the prison, it becomes a pioneer town, full of rough and tumble types.
Barry and I pick up another tour with Lisa at 2PM for The Alcohol History of Hobart. This one includes wine, whisky, vodka and cider tastings. Again we meet in front to the Drunken Admiral and find out that the hotel and restaurant is named for Lord Nelson, hero of Trafalgar. He was killed in battle and his men was placed his body in a cask of brandy, lashed it to the Victory’s mainsail, placed under guard. This is how the “Drunken Admiral” returned home.
Tasmania is foodie heaven and is know for “Paddock to Plate”. They are also known for their seafood, wines, produce, dairy products and more. It is difficult to find a poor restaurant review and easy to see that they are blessed with local, high quality food. Food centric festivals and events abound. The biggest is Tastes of Tasmania Festival http://www.thetasteoftasmania.com.au at New Years that adds to the festivities shortly after the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Crowds in excess of 350,000 come for a week long celebration of Tassie food!
It is renowned for it’s wine, but Tasmanians and other Aussies drink most of it themselves. They export very little. We are able to sample several wines and see excellent displays at the Gasworks Cellar Door.
Our visit to Lark Distillery in Hobart is very, VERY pleasant. As we sipped wee drams of delight. The distiller whom we speak with gives us a great pitch on how the water is the best in the world and barley is phenomenal and their whiskey is better than any you would find anywhere, including Scotland. We nearly bought a pricey bottle, but decided that we couldn’t take the risk of breaking it on our travels.
We are able to sample goods from Grand Ewe. Their Sapphire Blue cheese that is out of this world and enjoy the whey vodka so much that we buy a couple of small bottles to lug home for sharing with Heather and Justin. We also enjoy some Pinot paste, made from the marc of the pinot wine pressings. This sweet fruit paste is nice paired with cheese. We buy a couple of tubs of it as well. Their farm sounds wonderful, they welcome visitors and we put this on our “Next time in Hobart” List!
The restaurants around the docks have gorgeous seafood plates and we had to stop for some ice cream because the line was so long, we knew that it would be good. No regrets, it is Devine.
MOMA , The Museum of Old and New Art, is a “can’t be missed attraction” in Hobart. However, we run out of time and miss it! It is an eclectic mix of modern art and antiquities. We had seen it on TV and we were looking forward to visiting it. Visitors can drive there, pick up a minibus or even a catamaran from the waterfront to get there, fifteen minutes outside of Hobart. Next time….next time….
We are a short walk to Salamanca from our apartment. It is an area of former whaling ships’ warehouses that have been remodeled to become shops and restaurants. We enjoy walking through the shops and pick up a few small pieces made of local Tasmanian timber, called Huon pine. I also get a small, colorful and whimsical print by Esther Shohet. Her work is in a gallery that features the apartment where we are staying and the heavenly cafe which we enjoyed, Jackman and McRoss. (https://www.esthershohet.com.au) The print that we got is similar to this one> her work is so fun!
Tragically, we missed Market Day at Salamanca. It is on Saturday when we will have left and includes booths in the street in which artists and farmers sell their wares.
Next visit to Tasmania we WILL:
- Take the Bruny Island Food Tour https://www.brunyislandtraveller.com.au
- Visit MONA
- Visit Cascade Brewery
- Tour vineyards
- Take a cheese making class at Grand Ewe
- Take lots of hikes
- Maybe take a cooking class at The Agrarian Kitchen http://www.theagrariankitchen.com/The_Agrarian_Kitchen/the_agrarian_experience.html
Our guide book says that Tasmania “encompasses the historic, the healthy and the hedonistic”. I couldn’t agree more. So, we have flirted with Tasmania, but must return. What a magical place.