72 Hours in Hobart And A Day Drive

A scenic, coastal city, Hobart is the capital of Tasmania. My family and I visited Hobart over the summer, where we stayed by the harbor and had a panoramic view of the winding highway descending into Hobart’s Old Town. Besides a weekend food market and contemporary art museum, Hobart offers a backdrop of Mount Wellington and is a short ride away from a foodie’s paradise, Bruny Island. Below is an itinerary of our 3-day stay at Hobart.

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Day Drive – Launceston to Hobart

From Launceston, we booked a private tour guide and drove to Hobart in a day, stopping by the Tamar Valley Resort for some wine tasting. The light-toned wood decor and sliding glass doors complemented the sweeping view of the Tamar Valley as the sun began to shine through the cloudy sky. We stepped out onto the back porch and grassy backyard for a moment to admire the Tasmanian terrain.

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Nearby, we visited the Grindelwald Village, a small, Swiss-style retirement village and resort that looked a bit dated but still emoted a storybook charm. We walked around the main center, akin to the village Belle sings through in Beauty of the Beast, and wandered around the cute town bakery and trinket store.

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From there, we continued to head south to Hobart. For lunch, we stopped by Bakery 31 in Ross, famous for their scallop and salmon and brie pies. They sold pastries, served all-day breakfast, and offered hefty meals like lamb shank and cooked ham. I ordered myself a brie and salmon pie, which was warm and filling, and a caramel slice.

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It took about another two hours before we reached Hobart late afternoon. We checked into the Zero Davey Boutique apartments, where we booked a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment. The living room was huge, and came with a sleek, spacious kitchen. The master bedroom was wide enough for my younger brother to run around in, and the bathroom came with two sinks and a jacuzzi.

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After unpacking, we headed out for dinner at Franklin, a restaurant/bar furnished with cowhides and styled with exposed concrete. The restaurant was a trendy, yuppie-friendly joint and served area-sourced seasonal dishes. The plates we ordered, such as the kingfish, beef hanger, and risotto were all uniquely different.

Day 1 – Hop-On, Hop-Off

Our first official day was short and relaxed; we rode the hop-on, hop-off bus around Hobart and had lunch at Flippers, a small seafood kiosk by the harbor that sells golden-crisped fish and chips.

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We wandered around The Glass House on Hobart’s waterfront, a glass center suspended over Sullivan’s Cove and home to local vendors selling wool socks and local-designed stationery, before heading to dinner at Smolt. Smolt offers contemporary Spanish and Italian cuisine and is located in Salamanca Square, a refurbished row of cobbled buildings lined with restaurants that come alive at night.

Day 2 – Bruny Island

Day two at Hobart was much more exciting. We headed to Bruny Island, an island off the southeastern coast of Tasmania known for its wildlife, views, and artisanal eateries. Bruny Island is composed of two land masses – North Bruny and South Bruny – joined together by a long, narrow isthmus. With a population of 700, it is home to a few farmers and visited mostly by tourists.

To get to Bruny Island, you have to drive a car, hop on a boat, and then drive again through the island. We rented a private tour guide who took us around. 

At Bruny Island, visitors can try locally produced oysters, cheese, handmade fudge, and berries. We went to Get Shucked Oysters, which harvests oysters on the same day, and bought four dozen (two at the beginning of the day, and two more at the end) which were succulent and plump. 

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We stopped by Bruny Island Cheese Company, started by Nick Haddow, a gourmet chef with a food show. Trained in Europe, Haddow makes unpasteurized milk cheese – which is illegal because of possible health concerns – but supposedly tastes better. After tasting a panel of cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses, we ordered a freshly baked pizza with jamon serrano; the cheese was warm, full-bodied, and tangy.

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For some excitement, we headed to Adventure Bay to take a boat ride around Bruny Island with Bruny Cruises – an absolute must-do if you like seeing the ocean, admiring cliffs, or watching wildlife. During the summer, several tour operators offer kayaking around Bruny Island, but because it was near winter time down under, we jumped on a boat instead and sped through the Tasman Sea, steering close to the dolerite rocks of the high jagged cliffs and peering into the dark caverns of sea caves. Large smatterings of sky-reaching eucalyptus trees covered the top edges of the island and blowholes inhaled and spouted mists of seawater below.

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We came across “The Monument,” formed by two rock formations separated by a channel of water. From afar, one formation looks like a king riding on a llama, while the other looks like Madonna praying. Our tour guide revved the engine and steered into the narrow space between the two formations, once, twice, and once more again to the delighted screams and gleeful laughter of those in the boat.

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After admiring the natural geology, we started looking for animals. We came across a small pod of penguins by the Keyhole cave, and a group of Australian first seals lazing around by rocks farther south. Most of the seals ignored us, except for one that touted its snout into the air, nodded its head left and right, and flapped its flippers fervently.

“We call him Fabio,” our tour guide said.

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On our way back to Bruny Island, we spotted several albatross with wide wingspans gliding through the sky. During migration season, groups of these birds take long flights to the island, stopping only every once in a while. I wondered what it would feel like to soar through the lightness of air and ride tailwinds in V-formation; to see the sun set into golden, velvet, and rose pink skies and feel the pulse of the ocean with every flap and tingle in my wings; to possess uninhibited freedom and untainted grace.

After the boat ride, we drove to a scenic viewpoint 100-steps above land called The Neck at the isthmus of the island. From The Neck, you can see the long stretch of narrow sandy land, shrubs of greenery extending to North and South Bruny but fading towards the edges where the shore fades into the waves.

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We made our way back to Hobart after, stopping at Nutpatch, an artisanal chocolate shop where I bought a box of truffles, each filled with a shot of sweet liqueur. We had dinner at The Glass House, in a restaurant by the same name. Started by Arakane Ikuei of Iron Chef fame, the restaurant serves small plates Japanese- and Korean-influenced contemporary Australian dishes, including kimchi-wrapped pork and seared tuna sashimi.

Day 3 – Salamanca Market and MONA

Every Saturday, Tasmanian artisans, musicians, and vendors congregate in Salamanca Place for the weekly Salamanca Market. With over 300 stalls, visitors can find everything from alpaca wool scarves and potted ferns to handcrafted jewelry and professional photography of sights like Cradle Mountain and the southern lights. Food vendors sold Korean chapchae with Australian influence, traditional french crepes, grilled chicken kebabs, handcrafted paella and more.

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The waterfront came alive as well with music and chatter. Young musicians playing original acoustics while a group of elderly Swedish women singing along with an accordion. Kids chased each other on the grass as their parents sat by and chatted while street performers entertained with flexible limbs and crazy dance moves.

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For the afternoon, we visited the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), a 30-minute boat ride away from Hobart. The museum provides a boat service from The Glass House, and guests ride in a pink camouflage-patterned boat with spunky decor like bright red painted murals and miniature cow statuettes in neon colors. As we looked back at Hobart from the MI-83 boat, we could see Mount Wellington fading into the distance.

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The museum houses three floors of contemporary art that triggers the five senses. The most notable art installations included a bloated red Ferrari car, a commentary on 21st century consumer indulgence; a collection of some 100+ clay vagina sculptures lined on the walls, a symbol of women empowerment; and a digestion machine called Clyka that was “fed” and excreted materials once every day, a physical representation of the human digestive system.

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We took the boat back to Hobart early evening, and headed to Salamanca Place for dinner. We ate at Rockwall, a bar and grill that served contemporary Australian dishes. We ordered their dry coffee rub beef with butter, twice cooked duck, and mushroom risotto. For dessert, we ordered their turkish deligh panna cotta, served with rose syrup, pistachio, and fairy floss, and their Ferrero Rocher Ice Cream, served with candied hazelnuts and a shot of Franjelico.

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