After traveling for 46 hours, our last flight of the journey to Australia finally landed in Hobart and heads hit the pillows in our hotel at 11pm; we crashed and slept like babies, which was a perfect way to quickly clear away any jetlag! We slept like babies, but we also could barely wait to see what Tasmania had to offer.
A new hotel in Hobart located right on the water on an old industrial pier, Macq01 does an excellent job of bringing the history of Tasmania to life. At the core of the hotel is a focus on storytelling and each room is dedicated to a historic figure from Tasmania’s past. Our room was dedicated to Edward Abbott, the country’s first foodie and author of the first Tasmanian cook book – how fitting! The room is modern in design with a few organic elements to add warmth and comfort. The bar and restaurant are popular with locals so you don’t have to look far to get a feel for the energy of the city. Views of the harbor and city are a nice bonus. This is a perfect home base for exploring the area. See our Flickr album for more hotel site-inspection photos.
The next morning, we hit the ground running. We only had one full day to see Hobart and, just like our whirlwind tour of Edinburgh a few years ago, we planned ahead and knew we weren’t going to waste any time!
Breakfast at Room for a Pony
The morning started with a nice long walk up the hill to a quirky little restaurant called Room for a Pony. Our first attempt at navigating the strange names given to Australian coffee – what do you say when you just want a plain black coffee?! (More on that later), and a unique and hearty meal of roasted pumpkin and potato with scrambled eggs and hollandaise sauce (not something I would have dreamed up on my own, but surprisingly delicious!) and we were ready to tackle the city!
We meandered our way back downhill toward the harbor and enjoyed the interesting Victorian era architecture blended in with a few 1960s-style utilitarian concrete structures. One benefit of our long flights is that we had plenty of time to remember all of the things we had forgotten to pack and we had a shopping list of things that needed to be acquired. Luckily, we spotted a very familiar-looking red bullseye logo and made our way to Target to do some necessary shopping (deodorant is a must when you plan to do as much walking as we did!). This also gave us a chance to see the less touristy parts of the city; it was a Saturday and a beautiful sunny day so the locals were out and about!
Salamanca Market, Hobart
Every Saturday, Hobart plays host to Salamanca Market, a large outdoor street fair full of local artisan stalls and food trucks. This is an excellent opportunity to buy a few gifts for friends at home, taste some of the local flavors, and even do some whiskey and gin tasting at the McHenry booth! October is springtime here and the colorful blooms all around the market created a festive, cheerful vibe.
The Highlight of the Day: Whiskey and Beer Tasting!
Our one day in Hobart also happened to be my birthday! So, to celebrate, I booked us a half-day guided tour with Drink Tasmania to taste some of the newly popular local whiskeys and craft beers. We were not disappointed! The tour began at the Lark Cellar Door where the shelves are heavy with both local whiskeys and a healthy collection of Scotch whiskeys. Lark is the distiller that can be thanked for reviving the distilling industry in Tasmania after working to revise some of the old temperance laws in Tasmania. This new era of distilling is still quite young and Lark was the first to begin distilling whiskey in the mid-1990s.
We opted to begin with the Belgrove Rye, one of the more unique whiskeys coming out of Tasmania these days. Living in Maryland, the original home of rye whiskeys, we felt an obligation to try this one first and I’m a bit dismayed to report that Belgrove is making ryes far better than the rye’s I’ve been tasting in Maryland lately (cough, cough, Sagamore). From there, we hopped in the tour guide’s van and drove out of the city to a non-descripted industrial park, which also happens to be home to one of the best whiskeys in the World!
Sullivans Cove Single Malt Whiskey was voted best in the world in 2014. That well-earned accolade has certainly helped to put Tasmanian distilling operations on the map. Surprisingly, the operation at Sullivans Cove is quite humble, which always makes for the best distillery tours. On this tour, we had the rare opportunity to dive deeper into the filtering process. Collectors take note: Sullivans Cove hopes to release a small batch of unfiltered whiskey in 2018, which will make a nice addition to any whiskey-drinker’s bar!
Just down the road from Sullivans Cove is a tiny storage unit that serves as the headquarters for the Last Rites brewery, a very small operation pumping out beers with huge personality. My favorite, was the bright an citrusy “Pay Your Dews,” actually brewed with Mountain Dew!
Our tour ended at the Hobart Brewing Company located just next to our hotel. The head brewer here hails from Colorado so there was a nice familiarity to the atmosphere and flavors of the beers. This is a great spot to while away the afternoon and enjoy the great weather in the beer garden.
Jetlag sets in
I wish I could say dinner was at a special local restaurant with more unique local ingredients. But, sadly, after walking over 7 miles during the day, I was afraid I would fall asleep in my dinner! So, we split a simple plate of fish and chips while sipping on Moo Brew, another local beer, and called it a night!
The biggest lesson learned during my time here is that Hobart and its surrounds have so much to offer; one day is not enough; and we most definitely need to plan a return trip! We missed out on many local experiences and, with a little more time in the area, I would have liked to add:
- A visit to Port Arthur to learn about Tasmania’s history as a convict colony
- Wine tasting around Hobart and its surrounding countryside
- More whiskey tasting! I would have liked to spend more quality time getting to know the distilleries at McHenry and Lark
- At least a half day to explore MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)
- Hands-on cooking and tasting at Agrarian Kitchen
- Cheese tasting at the Pyengana Dairy
- A bit further out, but I would have loved venturing out to the Tasmanian West Coast Wilderness Railway for a unique steam train ride. The route has such steep hills, the train needs a third, thoothed rail (San Francisco streetcar style) to make the climb
If Hobart and Tasmania are not on your radar, they should be. This is typically a destination for a second or third trip to Australia, but I found it to be an easy and approachable introduction to Australia as a whole!
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