The handy thing about Hobart, beyond it being Tasmania’s central hub and packed with fresh local produce, galleries and colonial-era cottages, is that it’s not that big. This makes it an excellent destination for a short trip. Time it right and you can take in a range of the region’s remarkable natural beauty and appreciation for quality produce (and art).
Here’s our guide to exploring Hobart in 24 hours.
* 9am – Breakfast at Criterion Street*
Settle in slow at Criterion Street, a cute, retro cafe in the centre of town with sunny street-side tables, communal seating inside, and a quieter, homely space upstairs. Start your day with a smooth coffee or old-fashioned banana milkshake (with real banana). If you’re feeling the weekend vibe, the Bloody Mary goes down a treat, too. The dishes at Criterion Street are simple but fresh and locally sourced. Try the Big Cheese, a potato gratin with smoked cheddar and chilli cashews, or Aunt Mabel's poached rhubarb and apple-crumble porridge.
* 11am – Trip up Mount Wellington*
For this leg of the trip, you’ll need a car or a booking on one of a number of privately run shuttle buses. Once you’ve nutted out how to exit the city’s abundant one-way streets, your scenic trek up the towering mountain begins. Depending on the season, you may find sprinkles of yellow wattle and red natives along the winding roads to the summit. Once there, you’ll find boardwalks to explore and take in views of the city, harbour and Derwent River.
Note: If you’re visiting in winter, access may be restricted “due to accumulation of snow and/or ice on the road surface”. Check the Hobart City website when planning your trip.
* 1pm – Lunch and art at MONA*
For an art gallery and museum, MONA sure offers some fine eating and drinking options. There’s the downstairs Void Bar, casual Museum Cafe, fancy Source Restaurant, and Moorilla Winery and Wine Bar. But on a sunny day, the outdoor deck at The Wine Bar is hard to beat, offering a view of vineyards and the freshest access to locally made Moorilla wine, Moo Brew beers, and other craft wines, ales and spirits. Enjoy along with plates of Tasmanian oysters, charcuterie, cheese and wood-fired pizzas. The genteel surrounds make the descent into MONA itself wonderfully disorientating. Australia’s largest privately owned museum offers a permanent, evolving collection of modern works that please, challenge and confound in equal measure. Current exhibition, On the Origin of Art aims to challenge the viewer to appreciate art without a cultural filter and look beyond the conscious motivations of the artist. It runs until April 17.
3.30pm – Ferry back from MONA
Head back to reality on MONA’s MR-I ferry, which deposits you back on Hobart’s Brooke Street Pier in 25 minutes. It’s a relaxing cruise with views of the river and rolling hills. Choose to experience the journey in the Posh Pit, with complimentary drinks and canapés in a secluded area at the bow, or take the Cattle Class ticket at the stern of the catamaran with life-size cow and sheep sculptures to sit on. Comfy.
4pm – Oysters at Mures
As the ferry pulls in, you’ll notice your next stop in sight – Tasmanian seafood institution, Mures, which has three restaurants on the waterfront site: the Upper Deck, Lower Deck and Pearl + Co.
Mures has its own in-line fishing vessel, Diana, which enables full control of its hook-to-plate structure. Founded by George and Jill Mure more than 40 years ago, the business began out of frustration for a lack of quality local seafood. So, George went fishing for his own catches and never stopped. The business is still owned and operated by the Mure family, and you’ll see them working on the floor across the three venues. Mures offers a tasting plate of Tasmanian Pacific oysters, which can be enjoyed naturally with lemon, or with fresh mango salsa, and mojito lime and mint vinaigrette. They can even be served hot with Sriracha mayonnaise and crispy shallots.
* 7pm – Dinner at Franklin*
After those seafood starters, you’ll be primed and ready for an evening of degustation at Franklin. The space is a converted Ford showroom with exposed concrete floors and industrial-sized windows and doors, softened with timber surfaces, cowhides and sheer drapes. The warmth of the open-plan room comes from Franklin’s ten-tonne Scotch oven, which holds central position in the restaurant’s exposed kitchen.
The menu changes daily to hero the best local ingredients (often seafood). For a short visit on a budget, pull up a pew at the bar and select from the entree-sized plates and matching wines. For a bigger night with deeper pockets, book a table and get the full dining experience with Franklin’s intuitive staff. 9pm – Cocktails at The Henry Jones Art Hotel
A few blocks away is The Henry Jones Art Hotel. With harbour views and live music in a colourful space decorated with contemporary art, the hotel offers a range of excellent cocktails, including The Island of Fire cocktail, with single malt whisky, infused smoked bitters, cinnamon and orange rind. It’s a showstopper for its extreme flammable properties, which the bartenders are quite pleased to display during its creation.
* 11pm – See a band at The Brisbane Hotel*
Time to get amongst it. Take a walk up the hill to the Brisbane Hotel, a no-frills rock pub with low ceilings, multiple stages and cheap beers.
The live music here leans towards local punk, progressive, alternative, experimental and metal. It’s your classic old pub with lots of history and character, as seen in the bathroom with layers upon layers of graffiti scribbled across the walls.
* 1am – Dance at the Grand Poobah*
Once acclimatised, continue the festivities at the Grand Poobah. With two separate stages and bar areas upstairs, there’s often an array of things going on at this venue – you might find a karaoke night in one room, an international DJ in the other.
There’s a pool table with lounge seating and disco lighting in one room, and a ping-pong table with booth seating and UV lighting in another. Operating mostly off-the-cuff with unofficial closing times, the Grand Poobah bar is open from Thursday through to Saturday night and sometimes Wednesdays too.
2am – Sleep at the Alabama Hotel
Owners Kelly Cloake and Aedan Howlett wanted to offer guests something more upscale than a backpackers hostel, but less sterile than a chain hotel. They nailed it with the Alabama.
Opening in 2013, the Alabama Hotel offers a cool and cosy place to stay with 17 private and uniquely decorated twin rooms. Throughout the hotel you’ll see original art (often made by Howlett himself) and vintage furniture pieces. Keeping the prices affordable for its prime location, beautiful decor and friendly staff, each floor of the building features shared male and female bathroom facilities. There’s also a communal lounge area with a coffee machine, record player and interesting collection of books to read. The Alabama also houses the city’s only publicly accessible balcony terrace bar.