Art may be at the heart of Tasmania’s capital but Hobart also has its fair share of benchmark setting experiences outside gallery walls. Here are five ways you can kick-start your exploration of the country’s southernmost capital.
Keys to the kingdom
In Hobart, all roads lead to Mona – except on Tuesdays, when the subversive Museum of Old and New Art takes the day off. But here’s the hot tip: if you book one of the eight pavilions on a Tuesday night, you can take a private tour of the subterranean gallery, free from the madding crowds. Its new architectural trump card, the Pharos wing, features four major works by James Turrell and a robot video-portrait of Abraham Lincoln by Nam June Paik. And did you know that Mona also has an onsite winery with Tasmania’s second-oldest vineyard? Tours of Moorilla estate, conducted every Wednesday to Monday, include a thorough exploration of the gravity-assisted winery and a tasting of its vino straight from the tank.
A Hobart gem, Tom McHugo’s Hobart Hotel (87 Macquarie Street; 03 6231 4916) is a classic corner watering hole with punchy pub grub. But locals know something the tourists don’t: chef and co-owner Tom Westcott makes his own charcuterie. The country ham, prosciutto, salami and jamón are typically an off-menu thing – ask and ye shall receive.
Warhol in the wall
Matisse. Warhol. Hockney. Whiteley. In Tasmania, you won’t find this eclectic collection of artworks in a gallery or museum but at one of the most unexpected of places: the ultra-boutique Islington. This grand 1847 mansion in Hobart’s dress circle has been converted into an 11-room hotel, where the walls of the public areas display the owners’ collection of greats alongside sumptuous antiques. Yes, that portrait of China’s Mao Zedong hanging in the entrance hallway is a 1974 screen-print by Andy Warhol, while the etching just metres away is from Pablo Picasso’s landmark 347 Series of 1968.
When pigs fly
Every Friday evening from November to April, about 20 food stalls, three bars and a live-music stage encircle the lit-up fountain of inner-city park Franklin Square. Well into its second season, Street Eats @ Franko is no secret. What you may not know about, however, are the country-style pork ribs from Sticks n’ Grill: paddock-bred Scottsdale meat smoked over Derwent Valley cherry wood for six hours then chargrilled on site and dished up with vegetable sides and barbecue sauce made with seasonal fruit. The ribs are always gone by 7pm so be in line at the event’s largest and smokiest marquee by six.
Spirit of Tassie
Hobart’s newest drinking hole wholeheartedly embraces the city’s reputation as the gateway to Antarctica with a polished, wintry aesthetic. At Institut Polaire, the plush grey leather chairs, marble bar and white walls make you want to don a faux-fur-lined jacket and sample the Huon salmon tartare with a 65-degree quail egg accompanied by a gin flight. Can’t see the flight on the menu? That’s because it’s not there – you need to have a quiet word with the bartender, who’ll bring over a very selective spirit library of Tasmania’s best alongside English, Icelandic and Nordic gins. Take home a bottle of aromatic Tasmania bitters for your own cocktail experiments.
Top image: Museum of Old and New Art