Many visit Australia’s big draw-cards namely Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. I urge you to venture further, say to the nearby island of Tasmania. Off the beaten path, Tasmania offers unexpected but awesome experiences.
Fun facts: Tasmania is one of the biggest opium producers in the world. The product is used to make pharmaceuticals like morphine and codeine. Also, the island’s Wallaby numbers outpace the local human population by many millions. In the coming weeks, join me as I recount my recent Tasmanian adventure which included Tasmanian whisky, rugged landscapes, intriguing animals and gourmet food worth every cent and calorie.
Hobart is delightful. Surrounded by, waterways, mountains, a pretty harbour, old buildings and a very on trend art and food scene. Hard to believe that when the British arrived here in the early 1800’s and looked around, their first thought was – let’s make this a penal colony! Hobart itself has enough to keep one busy for a few days depending on your interests. We used Hobart has a base from which to do short excursions. While in the city, early one Saturday, we headed to the much talked about and highly rated Salamanca market. It’s a decent market with a wild variety of products on offer but it didn’t set our pulses racing so we grabbed some bread, cheese & cold meat and beat a hasty retreat from the manic crowds to explore the city in three dimensions:
1. Hobart from above- the aerial view:
A sunset on Mount Wellington on the other hand – WOW. Firstly, it’s a lot further than it looks, so factor that in when you drive up some narrow and windy roads. Also take warm clothes, it can be chilly up there once the sun has dipped. There are fantastic views of Hobart and surrounds. I suggest you take some bubbly and enjoy an epic sunset with 360-degree views including the ocean, cities and mountains. And beware of the nocturnal animals crossing the road on your way down.
2. Hobart from below – the artistic dungeons:
A must see whilst in Hobart is MONA: The Museum of Old and New Art. Its like no art gallery I have visited before – that says something as I once worked in the arts and culture sector. The architecture itself is art! Bunkered into a rockface on the edge of the Derwent River, you either drive there or take a boat. On arrival, you get a sense of just how Alice would have felt before she dived down the rabbit hole😊.
Layers into the earth, MONA too proves to be a wonderland. I love the use of technology. An iPod using wi-fi and blue-tooth senses your location to the meter and provides information on the art in your vicinity, including audio and video. It’s no conventional walk through rooms filled with art. There’s nothing ordinary about some of the works at MONA. I have dubbed one of the most controversial installations, “77 vaginas on a wall”. “Cunts…and other conversations” is the official title. The work by Greg Taylor consists of life size porcelain sculptures of individual vaginas. I didn’t find the piece offensive, although I suppose some would.
“Tattooed human skin”, reads the next artwork’s title. Meet Tim Steiner, the shirtless man sitting on a box. He is the artwork! His back carrying the work of Belgian artist Wim Delvoye. But wait there is more: a German art collector owns the tattooed piece which he will collect on Tim’s death. The other standout artwork was the Grotto, by Randy Polumbo. This cave-like room features an explosion of reflective, silver cushions with glass blown coloured sex toys scattered around😊. The Grotto is called the “selfie capital” of MONA and seriously who could resist all the bling? How could you not take a thousand selfies here? I loved the playfulness and had to be dragged away.
Controversial, thought provoking, crazy, funny and downright odd. The emotions provoked while on a visit to MONA are many. I left feeling inspired! But if it all becomes too much, you can always take a stroll around the grounds. MONA features a working winery, or you can settle down for a scrumptious snack and tipple at one of the many restaurants available.
3. Hobart in between: cooking with fire back on ground level
“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” The late Luciano Pavarotti could easily have been talking about the food scene in Tasmania. Franklin’s in Hobart certainly warrants attention. On entry you are greeted by a rather industrial looking space, complete with polished concrete. But at the heart of the kitchen is a large Scotch oven and open plan kitchen– all at once the space is transformed, it’s warm and inviting. The centred kitchen allows diners to take in the well-paced choreography needed to bring a dish together. I was impressed with the calmness in which the team worked.
The tapas style menu is an ode to fresh local produce, served in new and exciting ways – cooked to perfection in the wood fired oven. Some of our favourite dishes were the wood roasted octopus with sweet and sour currants and almonds, fresh burrata curds with heirloom tomatoes and tomatillos, wood baked walnut and roasted greengage pudding with wild fennel ice-cream and the blue cheese served with honeycomb and fried bread. This wouldn’t be our last food experience that demanded we stop and devote our attention to eating.
Did you know that Tasmanian whiskies have been grabbing global awards in recent years? More on that next week.
Things to Know:
South African citizens need a visa
R9.00 buys you 1 Australian Dollar
Airbnb can save you a ton on accommodation
Car rental is relatively inexpensive
Driving in Australia is relatively easy if you watch out for the animals and remember that driving on dirt roads with a rental is generally not permitted