Victoria and Tasmania are two Australian states equally famed for their world-class art, food and festivals. With the Qantas flight between their respective capital cities – Melbourne to Hobart – taking a little over an hour, it’s easier than ever to experience both cities and beyond back-to-back this season. Here’s what not to miss upon touch down.
Melbourne is brimming with stays that blend art and design. The Art Series Hotels do exactly that – boutique hotel, The Cullen, is designed to showcase the works of late Australian artist Adam Cullen. Similarly, The Chen is inspired by Chinese-Australian artist, Zhong Chen, and features an art gymnasium and a sundeck overlooking Melbourne’s skyline.
Eat and drink
When thinking of your next meal in Melbourne, the question isn’t “where?” but “where to begin?”. Some of Australia’s best gourmet festivals hit the city in May. For oenophiles, there’s the Good Food and Wine Show from 31 May - 2 June. Beer lovers should clear their calendars for Good Beer Week, which runs from 10-19 May and closes with The Great Australian Beer Spectapular, a three-day-long beer hall event at the Royal Exhibition Hall. Other must-not-miss hotspots include world-famous Attica (think hand-picked crab and black ant lamington), Kazuki’s for contemporary Japanese and Cumulus Inc for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Melbourne is home to some of the best galleries and art spaces in Australia. The National Gallery of Victoria features the reality-bending Escher x Nendo exhibition (running until 7 April at the NGV International), while Melbourne artist Darren Sylvester’s gripping take on consumerism can be spotted at the NGV Australia in Federation Square. For a trip into Australia’s cultural and historical past, Geelong Gallery is hosting works from Sidney Nolan’s iconic Ned Kelly series until 26 May.
Getting out into the crisp Melbourne air with a day at the markets will always reward you, whether it’s fashion, vintage finds, food or homewares. Stroll Prahran Market (open Tuesday and Thursday to Sunday) for fresh produce and baked goods, coffee and homewares. St. Kilda Esplanade Market (open every Sunday) has treasures by the shore covered. Head to the Sunday Market at Arts Centre Melbourne (open every Sunday) and The Melbourne Book Market (open every Sunday until 14 April) for vintage reads and sweet souvenirs.
Victoria’s high country might be better known for the plethora of winter-time pursuits you can enjoy once the snow falls but the region is just as glorious in the autumn when the trees turn crimson, amber and gold. Throughout the 10-day Bright Autumn Festival, beginning on 26 April, you can stroll through some truly spectacular gardens and examine more than 650 paintings on show at the Bright Art Gallery and Cultural Centre but make sure to include the Gala Day, on 4 May, in your itinerary for the best live music, markets and parades.
Tasmania’s natural landscape is a mesmerising yin-yang of land and water that’s best experienced in a cool climate so you can explore without breaking a sweat and cosy up by the fire aftewards.
It’s this unique environment that many spaces play off to create a stay where stunning architecture coexists with its lush surrounds. Take MACq01, for example, a sprawling complex lining Hobart’s waterfront with contemporary rooms that make the most of the water views. Out of town, you’ll travel through dense forest to reach the serene Pumphouse Point, which sits at the end of a wharf on mystic Lake St. Clair.
Eat and drink
Tasmania is famed for its world-class seasonal food and wine – and coming off the back of harvest time in March, autumn is the best time to sample some of the island’s finest.
Hobart is home to a slew of worthy epicurean pilgrimages: there’s Franklin for from-scratch fare in an open-plan setting or Fico for Italian bistro style. Start the day with artisanal baked treats and coffee at Pigeon Whole Bakers and finish it was cocktails at Ettie’s. For the real foodie, Flinders Island Food and Crayfish Festival runs from 11-14 April.
Hobart’s cultural claim to fame is MONA: the dazzling architectural marvel housing some of the most innovative and consistently enduring contemporary art ever produced. The exhibition not to miss is Zero, focusing on collaboration, raw materials and the striking styles of artists like Yves Klein, Marcel Duchamp, Roy Lichtenstein and Heinz Mack. It runs until 22 April.
A short ferry trip from Kettering will get you to Bruny Island. It’s a must-see for any farm-to-table fan with a penchant for the great outdoors. Famed for its oysters and cheese, alternate between samping the fresh produce and hitting the natural trails (South Bruny Island National Park and Bruny Neck lookout are worth the trek).
Built for culture vultures and nature lovers alike, the Cradle Mountain Film Festival is an experience that blends film with one of Tasmania’s most spectacular natural wonders, Cradle Mountain. From 29-31 March, watch the year’s best high-octane films alongside filmmaker workshops and Q&A sessions.