Tasmania Part Two: Hobart

art, hikes, national parks, tasmania 3 Replies


On the drive from Bicheno to Hobart

Part one of the Tasmanian epic is here.
For the last couple of days in Tasmania, we parked ourselves in the port town of Hobart. We left Bicheno early because it was a Saturday, and we wanted to make Hobart in time to catch the Salamanca Markets, which everyone I asked about Tassie said was a must-do. The markets are relatively large, with a section for crafts and tourist items, as well as a farmer’s market section.  There were plenty of food stands (including, for some reason, the “smallest pancakes” booth) and musical buskers.


Honestly, I’m not entirely sure why they are so heavily hyped. They reminded me of most craft fairs and markets I have attended in any town. They were extremely crowded, and did have a festive feel to them. I was tempted by some of the Tasmanian wood craft, particularly some beautiful cutting boards, but I ended up walking away with just a jar of honey and a Tasmanian devil potholder (best $5 I’ve ever spent). I was back in Salamanca Place a couple days later, and I can suggest it’s a great spot to enjoy a few galleries and get a cup of coffee or lunch.

After the markets, we did a bit of a wander around town and had our first of several fish and chips experiences. The Tasmanian scallops were so unbelievably good; worth their weight in currency. Downtown Hobart was easily walkable, and I killed a few hours on the beautiful pier and a exploring number of pretty parks.

The next day, I scheduled myself into a tour of the Cascade Brewery. A few months ago, I did the tour of the Budweiser brewery in St. Louis, and I thought it would be fun to compare a little brewery to that mammoth operation. Plus, I was hoping for samples. The brewery grounds are stunningly green and lush, with the imposing Victorian building glaring down from the hill.

My favorite story from the tour was that when it first opened in the early 1800s, the brewery had an open bar for the workers. After awhile, this seemed inadvisable, so they decided that they would only open the bar four times a day. A bell, which still stands on property, signaled to workers when the bar was open. This lasted until not so long ago, when health and safety standards came into effect.

We were, in the end, rewarded with samples. It was a day from a postcard, and I sat in the beautiful garden with my several beers until Partner-in-Crime arrived from the maritime museum to peel me off the floor whisk me off to our next destination.
We headed about an hour and a half out of town to Mt Field National Park, where we expected to be dazzled with wonder at Russell Falls the most photographed falls in Tasmania (or something along those lines). On the way, we had another disagreement with the GPS, whose affinity for dirt roads was becoming rather tiring. But, we made it eventually, and were pleased to find that the falls were a mercifully short 10 minute hike (good for me, after all those drinks). The falls really were quite photo worthy.
We carried on to the top of the falls, and beyond, to see what further sights we could see, and were soon rewarded with a view that struck me emotionally more than perhaps any other natural locale I’ve experienced. Photos do it not justice, naturally, but tucked away in a mossy alcove was Horseshoe Falls. Not even close to the largest or grandest falls I have ever seen, or even saw on this trip, the delight I felt came from the sense I got that I had entered a fairy land. It was cool, quiet, green, with beams of light peeping through the messy forest. There was not another hiker in sight, and P-i-C and I just about melted into the scene.

Dragging ourselves away, we walked on a bit further and found a couple more excellent trails to explore in the park. 

Another pademelon on the Tall Trees walk.
Hiding in the enchanted forest.
Ciao, kangaroo.
We devoted our final day in Hobart to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), a wild child of a museum just outside of town. MONA is a world class museum featuring the private collection of an eccentric local bazillionaire. The collection spans the old (mummies, ancient artifacts) to the new (installation art, film). There are no plaques on the walls, but rather all guests are given an ipod with a GPS system that provides information about pieces that you are near. You might get just a short paragraph (none of the curatorial material tries to explain the art, but gives a sense of things the collectors thought about and so forth) or you might have the chance to listen to a 15 minute interview with the artist. Each one is different and  the level of engagement is up to the viewer. The collection and curation is fascinating and well thought out, and I actually found it to be an exhausting day because there was so much to take in. There seemed to be an overarching theme to the collection that dealt with the human body and mortality, so it is a pretty a dark museum, but not without points of light and a good deal of humor.  
This installation was a wall several stories tall with a device that somehow pulled words
frequently used in the media and dropped them out with water. Crazy.
P-i-C and I sitting on a bean bag sofa on the ground watching a video installation on the ceiling.
Like you do.
With just a bit of time to kill before our flight home, we took a quick drive to the sweet, touristy little town of Richmond, where there are a number of Tasmania’s oldest buildings, and a disproportionate number of adorable B&Bs.

All the way to the airport, and onto the airplane, I tried to tempt P-i-C into staying in Tasmania for another week. Or, maybe finding employment for a year and taking up residence in a cottage with a handful of livestock and a rented dog. 
Strangely he said no, but I know I’ll win him over. 
Hold our spot, cows. We’ll be back one day.

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