During the European spring of 2017 we stayed for four days in Slovenia with our friends Samo and Mircha. We were blown away by their hospitality and how much they packed into our stay. Even though it was only a short visit we had a fascinating and varied experience of Slovenia*. We vowed to repay the favour if they ever visited Tasmania.
Well, we had the chance to do this in December 2018 when Samo and Mircha made their way to the bottom of the world, to our home town of Hobart, Tasmania.
We wanted to make sure that they had a good range of experiences so we planned a “program” based on the following criteria:
· All activities to be in Hobart or as day trips out. There were to be no overnighters in other parts of the state. We didn’t want to spend too much time driving as they were only going to be here for a week.
· In terms of the natural environment we wanted a mix of coastal, mountain alpine and lowland forest.
· We’d include a range of cultural activities including Port Arthur, MONA, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) and Salamanca.
It occurred to us, after the visit was over, that the week we had put together represented a pretty good recipe for how to spend a week in and around Hobart, showcasing the south of the state. So, if you too find that you are hosting visitors to Hobart who are looking to you for inspiration, or you are visiting and want some ideas of how to organise your time, then this post might be for you.
Here’s how we spent the week.
Day 1: Central Hobart
Day one was a Sunday, and with a spot of jetlag hovering about our guests (since yesterday’s late arrival), we started late and took it slowly. It was a sunny, pleasant early December day. A good opportunity for a stroll.
We parked near the Cenotaph (lots of free parking leading up to Christmas) and walked into town via Hunter Street, Constitution Dock, and along the waterfront to Salamanca.
We then headed up to Battery Point via Arthurs Circus before stopping for a beer. There were lots of possibilities for a drink. We chose Preachers in Knopwood Street to sample some of their craft beers.
After returning to the car we drove the short distance to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. We spent some time exploring the gardens.
Day 2 – Wineglass Bay
We left relatively early to give us time to get to Wineglass Bay at an unhurried pace. The drive from Hobart takes around 2.5 – 3 hours depending on how many stops you make along the way. We pulled over at Spikey Beach on the east coast to take in the views.
We stopped next at Swansea for more views and coffee. It was then on to Freycinet National Park and the walk up to the view point for Wine Glass Bay. It was busy (hard to get a park) but not manic.
For the return trip to Hobart we decided to take a different route back, going via the inland B34 road that passes Lake Leake on its way to Campbell Town. We made the obligatory toilet and coffee stop in Campbell Town before heading down the Midland Highway to Hobart.
We stopped briefly in Ross to check out the old colonial bridge and the general vibe.
Day 3 – Mount Field National Park
Coasts one day, mountains the next. The drive to Mt Field took us past New Norfolk, with the road running alongside the scenic upper reaches of the Derwent River. The drive to the National Park taking around an hour and a quarter to the park entrance and an extra half hour to get up to the alpine section.
To provide a good mix of experiences we did three short walks. First off was the Pandani Walk around Lake Dobson.
The misty weather adding to the atmosphere.
Back down the mountain we did the half hour Tall Trees Walk.
We finished with a meander to Russell Falls, which was performing well after some recent rains.
A stop for a late lunch at the Possum Café in Westerway sustained us for the drive home.
Day 4 – Sea and Summit
Having spent the last two days with a fair bit of driving it was time for a couple of Hobart-based days. Our morning jaunt was to the top of kunanyi/Mt Wellington to take in the views. We contemplated doing the short Organ Pipes Walk but decided to save our energy for an afternoon walk instead.
The surf beaches of Hobart around Clifton and South Arm are some of our favourite parts of the city’s environs, so we drove to Clifton Beach and walked along the beach to Cape Deslacs and the observation platform. We checked out the shearwater rookery and took in the expansive view.
If it’s warm enough a swim might appeal, but it was a bit cool and windy on our day there.
Depending on time you can also continue your drive up the South Arm Highway to Opossum Bay and South Arm Reserve from where you can get excellent views back to the city and kunanyi.
Day 5 – A Spot of Culture
The weather wasn’t great so an indoorsy day in Hobart seemed appropriate.
The morning was spent exploring TMAG. Samo and Mircha were particularly interested in the exhibits on Aboriginal Tasmanians, the history of the protest movements in Tasmania, and Tasmanian wildlife. TMAG is free by the way.
In the afternoon it was time to take in all that the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) had to offer, which is a lot. It left a very positive impression.
Day 6 – Convicts and Cliffs
This was to be Samo and Mircha’s last full day, so we wanted to make it a biggy. We chose the Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur. On the way we stopped at the viewpoint that overlooks Pirates Bay and Eaglehawk Neck. The weather was cloudy so not great for photos. Here’s one we prepared on an earlier visit.
When time permits we also normally stop at the Dogline to see the statue and relate the story. (Click here if you want to know what we’re referring to.) But we wanted maximum time at Port Arthur so didn’t stop on this occasion.
Port Arthur is a World Heritage site. Our entry tickets included an introductory tour as well as a boat trip around the Isle of the Dead (where convicts, soldiers and other residents are buried).
After the tours we were free to explore the site at our own pace.
On the way back to Hobart we wanted to show off the Tasman Peninsula’s impressive sea cliffs, the highest in the Southern Hemisphere at 300m+. Most tourists go to the well signposted sites of Tasmans Arch, the Devils Kitchen and the Blowhole, but we reckon that Waterfall Bay trumps these for spectacular, so we took the 6km unpaved back road to the bay. It was worth the modest additional effort.
Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day. If we’d had another full day’s worth of time we would’ve gone to Fortescue Bay and done the four hour Cape Hauy walk (click here for a post on this walk). But, alas time was against us on this occasion.
Day 7 – Time to Leave
Their last morning happened to be a Saturday so it was off to Salamanca Market for a couple of hours cruising the market and coffees in Salamanca Square. If you like markets Salamanca is a must.
Sadly, it was then to the airport to bid our guests farewell and wish then safe travels for the next part of their Australian trip on the big island.
A week sounds like a good amount of time for a visit to Hobart and surrounds but the list of things we would’ve liked to have done, but didn’t get around to, was nearly as long as what we did do. We would have loved to have travelled down the Huon Valley, maybe a walk in the Hartz Mountains or to the Tahune Airwalk, with a cider tasting at Willie Smiths on the way home.
Then there’s the Coal River Valley with wine and cheese tastings on the way to historic Richmond. Maybe tack on a visit to nearby Bonorong Wildlife Park to spot the illusive Tassie devil. And then there’s Bruny Island, Cygnet, Oatlands etc, the list goes on.
This post also doesn’t include many references to restaurants, pubs or nightlife as we largely ate at home. But there are plenty of options for all of these in Hobart, including the North Hobart restaurant and café strip and Bellerive Village. And, of course, this post only covers Hobart and places within comfortable day trip distance, which is only a small part of any Tasmanian holiday.
The good news is, that if you do happen to have a week in Hobart, you can be assured that you will have no difficulty filling in your time with great places to visit and fabulous experiences.
Ken and Cally
PS Thanks for visiting Tassie, Samo and Mircha. Hvala Lepa. See you in Slovenia some time.