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 By The Hon Peter Heerey AM QC

Head off to Salamanca Place.  The name, like Mount Nelson, Mount Wellington, Albuera Street etc, fixes the foundation of Hobart at the time of the Napoleonic Wars.

On Saturday mornings there is the celebrated Salamanca Market; wombat Tshirts, Huon pine salt and pepper shakers, toys, Bratwurst sausages, fruit and vegetables, wine, books, pictures, fortune tellers, buskers etc etc.

Zum Café  6223 2323 is excellent for breakfast and light lunches. At the corner of Montpelier Retreat there is Knoppy’s 6223 5808 a lively pub favoured by students and well placed to catch the afternoon sunshine.  It may be the only pub in Australia named after a clergyman.

A little further on is Maldini’s 6223 4460 great salmon, blue eye (known in Tasmania as trevalla, not to be confused with trevally), osso bucco and pasta specials.  Recent visitors I must say have been unimpressed. I was there in March 2012 and found the food fine, although it is very noisy and the service lacked alacrity.

Turn right at Maldidni’s and you will be into Salamanca Square with some good restaurants and a fine bookshop.  On Friday evenings from 5.30 to 7 pm there is a free jam session by the group Rektango, playing what has been described as a “delirious mash-up of gypsy and swing, Croatian folk and tangos”.

Also along Salamanca Place are some fine art and craft galleries such as Handmark and Salamanca Collection and on the first floor the Astrolabe Bookshop which has a good collection of Tasmaniana.

If you head up Kelly’s Steps it is about 5 minutes walk to Hampden Road Battery Point.  Da Angelo Ristorante 6223 7011 is good value Italian cuisine.  A few doors up on the other side is Francisco’s 6224 7124.  It has a pleasant courtyard and serves a great paella.

Take some time to stroll around Battery Point and particularly have a look at St George’s church, one of the loveliest buildings in Australia, and the village green setting of Arthur’s Circus.

On the other side of Sandy Bay road, in Davey Street, are the Anglesea Barracks, with early colonoial buildings and a fine military museum.  There is a monument to the 99th Regiment, one of the British Army regiments stationed for a while in Van Diemen’s Land.  It had a reputation of being particularly well turned out, giving rise to the expression “Dressed to the nines”.

Back down in the wharf area between Constitution and Victoria Docks you can visit Mures downstairs for lunch.  The restaurants on the Elizabeth Street Pier are well worth a visit.  Marque IV 6224 4428 has fine food and elegant ambience.  Next door Tavern 42 Degrees South (or T42) is less formal.  Fish Frenzy is terrific for fish and chips, as is MAKO, overlooking Constitution Dock.

Moored at Elizabeth Street pier is the Lady Nelson 6234 3348 a replica of the 1798 square rigger.  You can go for a trip on the Derwent and try your hand reefing the topgallants or doing other Master and Commander stuff.

Opposite Parliament House on the ground floor at Murray Street Pier there is Blue Skies 6224 3747 right on the wharf.  Great for lunch on a sunny day.

At the nearby Brooke Street pier you can board boats for a tour of the River Derwent (be careful not to call it the Derwent River, a solecism amongst locals!).   It is only from the river that you can fully appreciate the majesty of Mount Wellington, or “the Mountain” as Hobartians simply call it.   The cliché often used to describe mountains is “brooding”. The Mountain doesn’t brood, it is just there, always has been.  A palette for subtle variations of light and colour throughout the day and seasons.  If one must be anthropomorphic, you might think of it as paternal, kindly, protective of the cheerful little city below.  At the summit one can stand on the one spot, look down on the city, then turn around and see only wilderness stretching off to the far South West.  No suburban sprawl, no civilised farmland.

Also from the river St George’s can be seen presiding over Battery Point.  Try and mentally block out the unappealing 1960s apartment building nearby.

Back at the Brooke Street pier you can also board a boat up the river to Berriedale to the sensational new Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) at 651 Main Road Berriedale 6277 9900

MONA is on a small peninsula which also includes the Moorilla vineyard, superb restaurant and accommodation.  One’s reaction will be a mix of delight, repulsion, amazement, bewilderment and intrigue.

Back on the waterfront, on the corner of Murray Street and Morrison Street, the Customs House Hotel 6234 6645 serves great steak and fish dishes.  Long ago the father of one of my schoolmates owned the Customs House and ran a flourishing SP business on the side.  After school my mate had the task of hanging around the next corner keeping an eye out for the constabulary.

Just up from the Customs House at 11 Murray Street is Daci & Daci a café bakery specialising in French artisanal bread and pastries.

Up in the city the hot new place is Garagistes at 103 Murray Street 6231 0558

They only take bookings for Sunday lunch but sharing the superb food at bench type tables with amiable strangers can be a rewarding experience.  They have an exotic collection of wines, including half a dozen small vineyard French champagnes and also Dirk Meure’s pinot.  Dirk was my articled clerk at Dobson, Mitchell and Allport (one of Hobart’s arriviste firms – it started as recently as 1834).  After a distinguished academic career at the University of New South Wales Dirk now grows great pinot at Birchs Bay on the D’Entrecasteaux Channel .

If Garagistes is too busy, try ethos 100 Elizabeth Street 6231 1165

There are some good restaurants on Elizabeth Street North Hobart, a vaguely Bohemian area, including Amulet (formerly Mit Zitrone) 6234 8113.  A further 5 to 10 minutes drive is the acclaimed Lebrina 155 New Town Road, 6228 7775.

Going in the other direction is Prosser’s on the Beach 6225 9289 probably the best seafood restaurant in Tasmania.  It is right on the beach at Sandy Bay.  Wonderful on those long summer evenings.

An upmarket Chinese establishment in the Sandy Bay shopping centre is the Me Wah Restaurant. Its duck puffs are recommended

Back in town, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery 40 Macquarie Street 6211 4177  has some outstanding 19th century landscapes, especially by John Glover, and also fascinating material on Aboriginal and convict Tasmania.

The Tasmanian Maritime Museum 16 Argyle Street 6234 1427 contains a well presented selection of episodes in Tasmania’s rich maritime history.

The Theatre Royal 29 Campbell Street 6233 2299 is a gem, the oldest theatre in Australia.  Laurence Olivier was particularly fond of it.  There is usually something on there.

The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra 1 Davey Street 6323 4444  is an internationally recognized orchestra specializing in the Classical and Early Romantic periods and Australian music.  Notable figures who have performed with the TSO include David Barenboim, Alfred Brendel, Richard Tognetti, James Morrison and Anthony Warlow.  Its home is in the Federation Concert Hall (next to the Grand Chancellor Hotel).  The acoustics of the hall are superb, the external aesthetic perhaps less so.

A 10 minute drive from the city will take you to the Cascade Brewery 131 Cascade Road, 6224 1117  Tours of this, the oldest (and best) brewery in Australia are conducted daily.

Nearby there are the delightful Cascade Gardens and the Female Factory 16 Degraves Street 6233 6656, a World Heritage site. It was the female prison in the convict era.

A fine day trip close to Hobart would be to Richmond and the Coal River Valley, a treasure trove for pinot noir, see for example .  At Meadowbank 6248 4484 there is a vineyard and a delightful restaurant featuring an inlaid wooden floor by Hobart artist Tom Samek, a master of the art of the visual pun.  Tom’s work will probably be found in the galleries of Salamanca Place and North Hobart.

Richmond itself has the convict era Old Gaol.  One can get pretty blasé in Tasmania with the “oldest in Australia” label.  However, Richmond has two: oldest bridge and Catholic church.

Visiting Port Arthur, as you must, just after Eaglehawk Neck you can drop in to a pleasant café on the left hand side.  After Port Arthur try the round trip past White Beach and Nubeena and a further diversion to Saltwater River, a less well known convict settlement at least as fascinating as Port Arthur.

A very fine day trip would involve leaving by Davey Street towards Fern Tree, driving up to the top of the Mountain then back down and continuing to Cygnet, then returning along the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, having lunch at Peppermint Bay 6267 4088 at Woodbridge and afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson Signal Station café 6223 3407  with sweeping views over the Derwent Estuary.  It was a link in the semaphore system which connected Hobart with Port Arthur.

You can also reach the Signal Station Café by a short trip direct from the city.  Just before the Casino, turn off Sandy Bay Road and head up Nelson Road.  It is then about 15 minutes drive to the café.

If you have time to go to Bruny Island there is a spectacular boat trip from Adventure Bay (a historic spot visited by Tasman, Furneaux, Cook, D’Entrecasteaux, Bligh and others) down to the southern tip of Bruny.  It is operated by Bruny Island Cruises 915 Adventure Bay  Road 6293 1465 or 6111 0897  Seals, albatrosses, penguins and a stunning coastline. There is a bus connection from Hobart.

A road junction on Bruny has the most romantic directions. The traveller is directed to Alonnah, Lunawanna or Adventure Bay.

A great place to be based while spending a few days exploring the Channel, Bruny, the Huon and the Dover area would be Phil and Wendy Kennon’s property Wavestation 180 The Esplanade Middleton 7163, 0402 891 339 This is a secluded heritage beachfront farmhouse, comfortably refurbished, with splendid views across the Channel.

While in that area you could visit the vineyard and restaurant at Home Hill 38 Nairn Street Ranelagh 7109, 6264 1200 and the Tahune Airwalk

Cygnet is something of a gourmet destination.  In particular, try The Red Velvet Lounge 24 Mary Street 6295 0466

Some pre-visit reading: In Search of Hobart by Peter Timms, University of New South Wales Press, 2009. In the words of a reviewer, Timms “brings a wealth of fresh insights, exploring the city with a mixture of affection, admiration, frustration and sadness, interviewing a wide range of residents along the way. Those who have experienced Hobart as tourists will be surprised and intrigued by the lively, complex society this book reveals.”

There are some outstanding Tasmanian fiction writers, notably Christopher Koch and Richard Flanagan.

If your visit to Hobart is in any way employment-related, don’t forget to put in for your hardship allowance.

Peter Heerey

April 2012