If you’d like to read Part One of this series, beginning with a trip to Port Arthur, you can find it here.
I hadn’t been to Hobart since 1987. I don’t remember much – I was only eight years old at the time – but what I do remember has changed. Back then you could do a tour of the famous Cadbury chocolate factory! Sadly, not anymore. Again, what follows are tips intermingled with our travel experiences.
1. It’s a walkable city
We drove into Hobart to locate and check in to our hotel. After navigating the streets a little bit to find it, I discovered that it was on a hill, just outside the CBD. That made everything quite walkable, and that’s what we did – first to find lunch and then, right next door, we discovered a great popular culture book store called Area 52. We stayed there for a long time. Until the end of the school day, actually, and we had to fight our way down the street among hordes of teenagers as they caught their buses home. If you want to avoid that kind of congestion, perhaps avoid that time of day. We continued down Elizabeth Street, all the way down to the Brooke Street Pier and then we hung around the waterfront for a while, eating gelato. We went home via a different path to visit one of my must-see places in Hobart – the renowned Fuller’s Bookshop. And it didn’t disappoint.
2. It’s good to get your bearings early
I like getting my bearings when I’m going to be in a new city where I’ll be based for a time – that’s why an early walk, like in point 1, is important. I keep an eye out for places like pharmacists (in case someone falls ill! It’s the worse!) and grocery stores. As it turned out we had Centrepoint nearby.
Another plus about our location was that it was only a couple of blocks from the State Library of Tasmania. I always make an effort to visit a public library of any place we travel to, so I left the family in the hotel for a little while to go down and check it out.
3. Food options are good – but be careful
Food wise, within a few blocks, we ate a nice lunch at the groovy Small-fry Hobart (true to its name, the portion sizes were, sadly, small) and then a huge Chinese meal at X’ian Dumplings.
But one time we made a rookie mistake by just walking into a place that looked good without first examining the menu posted in the window. Had we done so, we would’ve discovered it really was rather expensive. Apps like Yelp really make a difference!
4. Make backup plans
By this point, the rain and cold had well and truly set in and that made it hard to get motivated to go back outside. For example, we didn’t go up Mount Wellington because we knew the view from the top would be nil. Our trip to MONA, the following day, was pre-paid so that was happening no matter what!
5. Is MONA for kids?
“In the spirit of honesty, I will say I didn’t spend as long there as I would’ve liked. It turns out that while the rest of the crew can spend an entire day inside The National Gallery in London, looking at Turner, Van Gogh and countless others, I think this was a more challenging experience, and fair enough. We did spend a lot of time in one area, drawing portraits using the ‘mirror method’ [see video below] and the kids were very happy with their work (as was I!). It was nice to be able to leave with a physical souvenir of the place.”
6. Richmond is a must
It was still raining when we left Hobart for Richmond, stopping along the way at the Sullivans Cove distillery to go on a tour. Adam partook in the generous tastings and – as you’d expect – I drove the rest of the day. We reached Richmond at lunchtime, first making sure we stopped at that beautiful, famous sandstone bridge – Australia’s oldest surviving stone bridge (and still in use!).
We then got a lucky park and ate at The Richmond Bakery – very busy, and very humid inside due to the time of the day and all of the rain. The food was great with great country, traditional fare on offer. Especially the sweets, which we are very partial to! The public toilet facilities were good – in the one way street between the bakery and Richmond Gao – and there were a number of neat touristy gift shops around the town, which would’ve been lovely to stroll around in better weather.
It’s just over 100 km from Richmond to Swansea, where we were booked to spend the night. On the 110km per/hr straight road we’re used to if we travel along the Hume Freeway, for example, it might be tempting to think that you can know that distance over pretty quickly. However, for many parts of what we saw, the roads were quite windy and you had to slow to 60 or 40kms per/hr in towns and outer towns along the bus routes.
So when we hit the outskirts of Swansea – thanks to a big coffee at lunch – I was busting to go to the toilet. Luckily, we came past Kates Berry Farm and made a detour into the place. It has lovely views and it was nice to be able to enjoy them, as we couldn’t stop to look at the wild coastline as we made our way up due to the rain and the cold.
Come back next week for the recap of our trip to the glorious Wineglass Bay.