My 27th Birthday was wonderfully special, and one I will remember for a variety of reasons. Not only was it the first Birthday I’d spent with Tom, but he had arranged and planned every detail of a surprise getaway, and whisked me off to Tasmania for the weekend.
I’ll be honest, neither of us really knew what to expect from Tassie; but she certainly left a mark on us.. Being an archipelago of islands, Tasmania has a stunning array of white-sand beaches. Some are wild and remote, others are ridiculously close to the coastal cities. Many are within the national parks which means their natural beauty is preserved for generations. Tasmania packs in magnificent scenery, jaw-dropping rock formations, sensational food and wine, and impressive cultural landmarks all intertwined by a rather bleak and powerful history. While there’s plenty to explore in Tasmania, a weekend spent in Hobart is the perfect way to get a taste of what Tasmania has to offer.
Here’s our itinerary for how we spent our weekend getaway in Van Dieman’s land:
I recommend flying into Hobart, preferably a day before your ‘weekend’ officially kicks off. Upon your arrival, I would suggest you hire a car from the airport - it’s the only way you’ll be able to adequately explore this beautiful place in the short time you have. We headed straight to our accommodation for the weekend; a beautifully decorated Airbnb with the most incredible views over Sandy Bay.
After we settled in we were ravenous, so we headed down to Battery Point in search of dinner options. We came across food markets in the middle of Franklin Square and grabbed a bite to go, which meant we could continue wandering the city streets at dusk. Dining options are relatively varied in central Hobart, however, Frank on the waterfront stood out to us for it’s relaxed yet expertly-crafted approach to Argentinian cuisine and Post Street Social is the perfect place for nightcap.
We began the day by visiting the infamous Salamanca Markets and wandering around the historic Georgian architecture of Salamanca Place. Salamanca Markets have a reputation as one of Australia’s best markets, so I would highly recommend you take the time on Saturday to wander; preferably before the crowds flock.
We jumped back in the car and headed towards Bruny Island; one of Tasmania’s southernmost islands. Covered in eucalyptus forests with long stretches of rocky coastlines, this island is rugged and remote, yet is a mere twenty-minute ferry ride from the mainland. Once you step foot (or wheel) on the island, there are an abundance of activities to discover.
We decided to venture to the southernmost point of the island; to the iconic landmark, Cape Bruny Lighthouse. The drive to this point was relatively smooth, but with a turbulent change of the weather, the landscape became more eerie and we really began to feel like we were out here on our own. Windswept coastlines, wild birds, rolling hills, wide beaches and limited civilisation - this truly is a spectacular part of Australia that is worth visiting. As we approached the Lighthouse, the skies cleared and we had roughly ten minutes of clear skies which allowed us to admire the dramatic cliff tops and coves that form the rugged coastline of Cape Bruny.
We turned around and made our way north and made some important stops along the way. We drove along the isthmus of land which connects the north and south of Bruny Island and climbed the wooden stairs to the viewpoint, which provided the most spectacular 360 degree views. If you are lucky enough, you just might catch a glimpse of the fairy penguins making their way up the beach.
If you’re a fan of oysters take the time to visit Get Shucked, the locally owned oyster cafe. Their oysters are sustainably farmed directly from the waters off Bruny Island, and with a slogan “Fuel for Love” how could you not visit this place.
Once we had consumed our body weight in oysters, we caught the ferry back to the mainland and headed back to our Airbnb to prepare for dinner. Tom had booked the Astor Grill, which is renowned for its unique and contemporary menu and is one of the best restaurants in Hobart. They serve local Tasmania produce and have a wonderful wine list which perfectly compliments the experience.
We started the day early and had our bags packed and ready before we set off up Mount Wellington. Often referred to as ‘the Mountain’ by the residents of Hobart, it rises to 1,271 metres over Hobart’s harbour and the wide Derwent River. If you’re lucky enough to get a clear day, like we did, you’ll find that the 21 km drive to the summit ends with panoramic views overlooking Hobart, Bruny Island and the Tasman Peninsula. You can opt to hike up Mount Wellington, but when you’re on a tight schedule it’s best to drive (it takes around 20 minutes from the centre of Hobart).
Before flying out, we strolled through the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, visited some nearby beaches, including Blackmans Bay Beach, and ate fish’n’chips down on Franklin Wharf. If time permits, I would suggest you head to the Coal Valley wine region for late lunch and/or wine tasting. As the Valley is a ten-minute drive from the airport, it makes for an easy pit stop.
Unfortunately there just wasn’t enough time for us to experience MONA. However, I would recommend that if you want to beat the weekend crowds, you do this on the Friday you arrive. For the full experience, I recommend taking the ‘Mona Roma’ fast ferry up the River Derwent, which provides exquisite views of Hobart and gives the gallery a fittingly dramatic first impression. You’ll want to put aside a few hours at least for exploring MONA.
The drive from the ferry at the northernmost point to Cape Bruny Lighthouse takes an hour each way, so make sure you factor this into your planning when considering the ferry times to take you back to the mainland.
Unfortunately we were unable to visit Port Arthur Historic Site. I have been told it is one of the most fascinating, moving and interesting places to visit in Tasmania. Port Arthur has a violent and troubled history as a penal colony for some of Australia’s hardened convicts, yet it’s beauty brings this contrasting sense of peace and happiness. Don’t miss the ghost tour. You can easily get there via a public bus from Hobart to Port operated by Tassie Link.