Hanging Out In Hobart – Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Hanging Out In Hobart

It’s easy to see why arriving convicts must have thought this was the end of the earth. Or rather, it’s easy to feel why they must have thought that as we step out onto the tarmac at 6:30 a.m. on a Monday morning towards our homeward-bound plane in a brisk, 2 degrees celsius, Hobart breeze.

But convict history is not the purpose of this 3-day-weekend, more to experience some of the current day attractions that Hobart and its surroundings have to offer.

After landing in Hobart on Friday at the very leisurely time of 11:00 a.m., we stop in for a brief visit to the Cascade Brewery for some souvenirs and a bite of lunch. The visitors centre, where the brewery tours depart, has recently been upgraded and offers very reasonably priced product tastings, quality foods and a good selection of souvenirs. The brewery tour, as well as being informative, includes free tastings back at the visitors centre across the road. Interestingly, the brewery itself is a dry zone and alcohol may not be consumed within the premises.

The tasty and locally grown meal now consumed, we head up to the Cadbury chocolate factory for a factory tour. The holy grail for chocoholics, the factory runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Tours, however, run from 8:00 a.m. Monday to Friday and bookings are essential, well in advance. These provide a wealth of history and chocolate-making information, as well as a number of product tastings.

Mt. Wellington
A short drive west of Hobart leads up to Mt. Wellington. At 1270 metres above sea level, it is not surprising that there is a smattering of snow near the car park and lookout at the top. The view is spectacular and the icy cold wind ensures that the view is appreciated in double time.

Da Angelo’s Italian restaurant in Hampden Road, Battery Point is our port of call for dinner. The restaurant offers both eat-in and take-away options and is very popular with the locals, so bookings in advance are generally a good idea. Luck shines on us as we turn up out of the blue and manage to find a table.

Salamanca Markets
Saturday morning and there’s no rest for the wicked, or the shoppers, as it’s off to experience the Salamanca Markets. The markets are held in Salamanca Place on the waterfront of Hobart and offer everything from food and coffee to local wood products, crafts and fruit and vegetables. We enjoy a hot chocolate and doughnut before picking up some locally produced fudge and a bottle of mead to take home.

With the threat of an afternoon shower, we hurry off towards the south west along the Huon Valley to the small town of Geeveston, gateway to the Tahune Forest Park.

Here we buy tickets and explore the history of the area at the information centre, before driving the 20 odd kilometres to the Tahune Air Walk. This is a walkway raised up off the ground into the tree tops and provides a beautiful and novel viewing angle of the local plant and bird life. The cantilevered section towards the Huon River also provides spectacular views of the surrounding area.

Salamanca Lights
Our day’s exercise over, we head back to Salamanca Place where the markets are gone and the streets revert to car parking and general thoroughfare. Dinner is at the Ball and Chain Grill where the focus is the charcoal powered grill. Again, local meats and produce are showcased and as expected, the flavours are fabulous.

Sunday morning and there’s time for a sleep-in, before heading down to Salamanca Square for a leisurely breakfast of hot chocolate and home-made fruit toast at Sugo. With two slices of 1 inch thick toast and delicious jams, it is no wonder we cannot clear our plates.

Putters Adventure Golf is our next stop, and we sign up for a round of both the indoor and outdoor courses, along with an hour on the golf simulator. The outdoor course is first, complete with simulated sand bunkers and real water hazards. We then take on the golf simulator which consists of a large screen showing a projected computer golf game, a set of real golf clubs and a golf ball. We play as we would normally on a real golf course, hitting the ball in the same way towards the screen. The system tracks the ball and decides where it would end up within the game. Putting can be tricky, so any shot that ends up within 2 metres of the hole is offered a gimmie. Our golfing experience concludes with a round on The Mill, the covered, indoor course that provides an excellent wet-weather alternative to the usual, outdoor courses.

Richmond Bridge
To wrap up the day and the trip, since our return flight leaves first thing in the morning, we travel across the hill from Hobart to Richmond, a historic town steeped in convict history. The oldest bridge in Australia can be found here, dating back to 1823. It was originally built to connect Hobart with Port Arthur, some 100 kilometres away. The town of Richmond contains many original buildings, some of which contain small souvenir shops and cafes.

Monday morning and we are up by 5:00 a.m., checking out of the hotel and making the 25 minute drive to the airport to brave the 2 degrees celsius walk to the plane. Despite the tongue-in-cheek reputation that Tasmania has among the mainland, it is a beautiful place and well worth the visit.

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