Flying into Australia’s Tasmanian main gateway city and capital Hobart after an absence of 27 years wasn’t something I’d planned. However this had been my last driving holiday as well. In fact, Australia is the only country (well maybe NZ) I will drive in.
I’ve been asked in the past why I’ve not written much about my own country, but I assume like others I’ll do more of it as I age … Anyway, I won’t be leaving it so long again to visit as Tasmania has ‘grown up’ substantially since my last time here. In terms of great wine and food trails, tourist sites and many little hidden and unknown gems, it’s real drawcard is the wilderness and the wildlife which live in it. Anyway, I’m going to start at the bottom of Australia and work my way up!
To give you an indication of the size, Tasmania is 68,332 square kilometres (26,383 square miles) in area. The distance from north to south is about 364 kilometres (226 miles) and from east to west about 306 kilometres (190 miles). It’s about the same size as Ireland, Switzerland or the state of West Virginia in the USA.
Upon arrival at Hobart Airport, you will have flown in with either Qantas, Jetstar or Virgin airlines from one of the three main gateways off the mainland of eastern Australia being Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne. The stringent quarantine regulations are not just imposed on international passenger arrivals, but that of mainland Australian residents as well. No fruit, vegetables, fish/meat etc cannot be brought in as the cute-looking dog walking on the conveyor belt will no doubt pick it out. See the website below for further information.
You can easily pick up a car or campervan to travel around Tassie from the airport or city locations if you are considering driving around our smallest state. I cannot stress enough the importance of slowing down as the native wildlife is abundant here and the roads which have been built through their backyard takes its toll on these creatures as evidenced along the way.
If you are not wanting to pick up a car immediately, you can catch the Airporter bus service into Hobart for a cost of A$19.00 per adult one way to your city hotel. On today’s exchange rate A$1.00 = USD0.76 cents.
Bus services between cities and tourist attractions is almost non-existent and I would encourage you to hire a vehicle for ease and convenience. And, like most island nations we drive on the left side of the road … The correct way I say!
Staying at the Fountainside Hotel is not only close to everything along the foreshore and harbour side, it’s practically the first hotel you’ll drive into from the airport to the city centre. This saves time trying to figure out the one-way streets when you’ve not been here before and making it easier to find a suitable hotel which is handy to all that you need.
Late afternoon view of the park with plenty of lovely natural light streaming in. Parking is available on site which is a treat as it’s free with your stay whilst here. You’ll be given a slip to place on your dashboard or risk being towed away.
Large and spacious rooms make it a comfortable place to relax before doing a quick run-around of the close city sights. TasVillas Group have locally based staff who can assist with all itinerary planning, checking availability at multiple properties and locations and offer a fast reliable booking service for anyone contemplating their Tasmanian trip. See www.tasvillas.com
Oh really – Mint Icecream on the menu at Fountainside? So good I had it both nights … Staff here are incredibly friendly and will make your stay a memorable one.
Walk along the foreshore – this is close to where the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race finishes after navigating some of the most unforgiving waters across Bass Strait which separates Tassie from the mainland. This happens towards the end of each year and if you’re a die hard fan, book in early as there’s always a massive influx of revellers, doesn’t matter if you own a yacht or not.
Plenty of vessels to go out on the harbour for you to enjoy – doesn’t matter what time of the year. Summer in Australia is the peak season for Tasmania with everything open, up and running, so from December to end of February it’s quite busy but the shoulder seasons can be as well. My advice is to steer clear of school holidays if you can.
The Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum is situated in Hobart, ‘The Gateway to Antarctica’, on the city’s beautiful waterfront and just 50 metres from Constitution Dock and Mawson’s Place.
The building was opened on Monday 2nd December 2013 which was the 102nd anniversary of the departure from Hobart of the Australasian Antarctic expedition 1911-14 which Douglas Mawson led. Just outside the front door is where they departed.
Phonogram anyone, let’s dance? Some wonderful artefacts still exist.
Afterwards you can go out to the ferry terminal for MONA – The Museum of Old and New Art. Book early as it fills up.
Salamanca is the place to visit as it has fantastic retail shops with all kinds of crafts, food and artistic feasts for the eyes.
Arty crafty and bit of fun around Salamanca.
Gillie and Marc have worked side by side for 25 years. The husband and wife team are New York and Sydney-based contemporary artists who collaborate to create art as one.
Gillie and Marc first met on a film shoot in Hong Kong. On paper, their differences should have been incompatibilities, but their hearts said something else. Seven days later, they were married in the foothills of Mount Everest. This intrepid pair are best known for their iconic hybrid characters Dogman and Rabbitgirl who tell the autobiographical tale of two opposites coming together to become best friends and soul mates – proving everything is possible through love.
Wombats, how could you not love this face? Here at Bonorong it’s a sanctuary for disbanded or injured wildlife run by a passionate team of like-minded people. The wombat is the largest burrowing mammal and an accomplished burrower that early settlers called it a ‘badger’. However, its closest relative is in fact the koala. With its short tail and legs, characteristic waddle and ‘cuddly’ appearance the wombat is one of the most endearing of Australia’s native animals.
Tasmanian Devils are a rarity and these ones have been culled due to a cancerous growth on their little faces and won’t be released into the wild again. The rescue centre offers up-close viewings of endangered native wildlife and guided educational tours.
Koalas are very cuddly and although I’ve lived all my life in Australia, this is the first time I’ve been so ‘up close and personal’ with one.
Surroundings of the bush at Bonorong are beautifully kept and a day trip out with Grayline is definitely worth the visit. See http://www.grayline.com.au to book as it will include a day trip to Richmond.
Historic town of Richmond after the sanctuary is a step back in time with great little coffee shops, antique stores and early Australiana architecture. The town’s most photographed landmark is the Richmond Bridge. Built by convicts in the 1820s, it’s the oldest bridge in Australia and offers a perfect picnic spot on the grassy banks of the Coal River.
St Lukes The Physician Church. There are only a few older churches in Tasmania and most of those erected earlier have either been rebuilt or altered to such an extent that very little of the original building is left. In Richmond there are more than 50 Georgian buildings, many beautifully restored and now operating as restaurants, galleries and accommodation.
The Richmond Gaol is also the oldest gaol in Australia. Standing inside the stone cells gives an eerie insight into the hardships and brutality of convict life in early Van Diemen’s Land.
In 1812 the convict ship Indefatigable was the first ship to bring convicts direct from England to the shores of Van Diemen’s Land. This continued until 1853 when transportation ceased. Over a period of some 41 years more than 74,000 convicts were transported to Tasmania.
Up early for Salamanca Markets on a Saturday and street vendors hard at work selling fresh produce. Love the old scales, brings back memories of how to calculate without a device …
If you don’t have breakfast included in your room rate, then this is the place to come and have some well-earned brunch, especially after visiting all the stalls and listening to buskers belting out some great old tunes. Hard to decide which eatery has the best-tasting as it all smells so inviting. Best to stay for lunch as well.
Next stop north-east coast and Wineglass Bay.