With my plane tickets crammed between the pages of my book, I looked out through my aeroplane window as the city lights were drawing away. I was less than an hour away from Melbourne and on my way to a place unknown to many of us. A place with hidden treasures that you stumble upon, and natural landscapes that take you by surprise.
Resisting the wave of urbanisation that has permeated the rest of Australia, Tasmania manages to maintain its natural beauty in pristine condition, whilst retaining its strong farming and seafaring roots.
For visitors, the compact nature of Tasmania is a great advantage. Landscapes unfold before you like a forgotten black and white film with their unspoilt beauty and seductive allure. With good roads and few cars, it’s possible to drive from one end of the island to the other in a single day. Not that you would want to.
There’s too much to see.
First and foremost is MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art, an edgy and truly world-class institution located within the Moorilla winery on the Berriedale peninsula in Hobart. Described by its owner, Hobart philanthropist David Walsh, as a ‘subversive adult Disneyland’, three levels of spectacular underground galleries showcase more than 400 often challenging and controversial works of art. You are not guaranteed to like everything you see, but what you are guaranteed is an experience of a lifetime that will have you talking about the works with your friends for weeks to come.
On Saturdays in Hobart the pace quickens with the iconic Salamanca Market, which was established in 1972 and has run every Saturday ever since. Vendors and craftspeople sell their local products, woollen scarves, scented candles, handmade wooden ornaments, vintage clothes and books, unique antiques, and touristy items. They fill the streets with a vibrant array of colours, aromas, and flavours while the sound of singing can be heard as young artists busk on street corners. This intertwines to create a labyrinth of trades and art that you will lose yourself in.
Walking back to the port you’ll have the opportunity to mingle with the locals in the salty smell of the air and fresh fish.
Just 90 minutes away from Hobart is the Port Arthur Historic Site. A place that combines the tranquility of nature with the sad history of convicts. The prisons, hospital, asylum, isolation area, and church are all still standing and you can imagine the brooding silences and the haunting screams of the decades it operated as a penal settlement in the 1800s. You can visit all of Port Arthur’s restored buildings, including the Old Asylum (now a museum and cafe), and the ghost tour.
You should also take the ferry that circles the Isle of the Dead. Here you will shiver yet simultaneously be intrigued as you walk upon the gravestones of some of the most notorious convicts of Australia.
All you have to do is book.
To find out more, go to discovertasmania.com.au