Hobart – Tasmania
CH 4 – Hobart
As we write this, we are on Virgin Blue, over the Tasmanian Sea, approaching Hobart, Tasmania, for another segment of our trip. This is our first trip on Virgin.
HINT: Both check on and carry-on bags were weighed, and we had to shift some of our belongings to be within guidelines.
Drinks, sandwiches, and snacks are available for a fee. Seats are comfortable, but there is neither music nor movie to watch. It’s a 2 1/2 hour flight.
We entered the airport through the International Flight Gate and were told to dispose of any fresh fruits, veggies, meats, or plants. It’s a small airport, and we disembarked, walked across the tarmac into the airport and across the street to the rental car desks. Only three airlines were listed: Virgin, Qantas, and JetStar.
Tasmania is much different than the Australia that we’ve seen. It’s more like England, or a northern US state. Rolling green hills and mountains, farms, and little towns are what we saw driving into Hobart. http://www.discovertasmania.com/us/
Hobart is a hilly town, and a combination of old and new. Our B & B, The Lodge at Elizabeth, is a charming historic house designed by a convict and built in 1829. We have a large room with a refrigerator, electric kettle, and whirlpool tub, There is a lovely garden view; the garden itself is just steps away. A two block walk took us to north Hobart, and a myriad of international restaurants: Indonesian, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Chinese, American, and Malaysian. Greg and I chose Fish 349, an eclectic place with good Thai fishcakes, baked octopus and chorizo with elderberry glaze, and fried wonton with prawn and crab. Like most places in Australia, order at the counter. $50 A or about $ 40 USA was our tab, including a glass each of Tasmanian wine. Cheers! http://www.fish349.com.au/node/2
Walking south, about 5 blocks from The Lodge at Elizabeth, is Elizabeth Mall, and the town center. There are lots of different stores, but by 6:00 pm most were closed. We looked in vain for a convenience store, even checking Target for snacks, and finally settled on a box of crackers found in an Indian foods shop to go with the cheese we purchased earlier.
The Lodge itself offers breakfast, a guest lounge with an electric fireplace, same day laundry and dry cleaning service, in room tea and coffee, fax, electric blankets on the beds, and will book tours for you. Parking is a bit of a problem, as is internet access.
Our first afternoon in Hobart was very nice and we feel comfortable!
We had a nice continental breakfast sitting by the window in the dining room. It was a chilly morning, so the electric fireplace was on. Breakfast consists of assorted breads, cold cereals, juices, fresh, canned, and stewed fruits, yogurt, coffee or tea.
Our adventure today was multi-faceted. First, we browsed Salamanca market, on Salamanca St. It runs from 8:30 to 3:30 on Saturdays and has free admission. What a treat for shoppers of all kinds! The produce was abundant and looked to be at its peak. Cheeses were fresh and tasty. Children’s wear offered many choices. There were used book stalls, knitted hats, wooden bowls, cutting boards, and platters, handmade soaps, fruit leathers, arts and crafts, flea markets, one of a kind women’s clothes, and so much more. Foods were mixed in, so shoppers can spend the whole day. There was even entertainment. We found some bargains, including some prosciutto and cheese, a Dr. Who book, and a small cutting board. We chatted with Darren at the soap booth, who gave us some hints about the Cairns area. His motto is “We keep Tasmania clean.” We wanted to stay longer, but another facet called – the Apple Museum.
The Apple Museum was fun and informative. We learned from Jackie, a curator, how apples were prepared in the 1880s, and that Tasmania was once called “The Apple Isle.” Their heyday was the 1960s and 1970s, but the apple industry is trying to come back. We were able to taste some fresh apples after Jackie demonstrated using peeling machines. Delicious! Crafts and souvenirs are available. The $5.50 A or about $4.50 USA was worth it. http://applemuseum.huonvalley.biz/dummy/index.html
Next, wine tasting! We stopped at two –Panorama Winery and Home Hill Winery. We tasted some very nice wines, complimentary, and purchased some, including Kruskovak Pear Liqueur from Panorama. Raylene was very friendly and helpful in our selection. We ordered lunch, and while the sandwiches were good, we had asked for toasted, and they came plain.
Then we were off to Tahune Skywalk Preserve. We walked in the canopy of a temperate rainforest, and the views were great! We had to climb stairs to get there, and once on the Skywalk, the walking was easy. We also took the Swinging Bridge Walk. The bridges are hanging, and they sway some while people are on them, but it was fun, and the views of the rivers were good! The rainforest is beautiful, and there are picnic areas and other walks/hikes to be explored. For us, another visit! Wear good walking shoes, and take water. If you keep your eyes open, and look up and down, you might make some discoveries of your own. We wished we could spend a full day there, too! The admission was $22 A each or $17USA. We thought it was a moderate price for a day’s adventure! The drive from the main road is 26 km, and took about 30 min. The round trip was 2 1/2 hours. http://adventureforests.com.au/tahune
Chapter 3 – Tahune Skywalk
Finally, we stopped for dinner. Grape, a nice little wine bar, is a good place for a before dinner drink and an appetizer. Bottles of wine line the walls, and tables are on the sidewalk. Our two glasses of a very nice wine were $19 A, or about $15 USA. Appetizers averaged about $9.50 to $12.50 A. Pizzas are served, too. http://www.grape.net.au/taxonomy/term/309
The Ball and Chain was our dinner choice. We sat in the atrium, which was nice. MaryJo had salmon and Greg, steak. A self serve salad bar is included. We treated ourselves to a steamed chocolate pudding to share. It came with ice cream and cream. Rich and wonderful! The total was $86 A, or about $77 USA. It was a bit pricey, so it we considered it a treat. The building was built by convicts in the early days of English settlement. http://www.ballandchain.com.au/
HINT: Many restaurants close between lunch and dinner – about 2:00 to 5:00 or even 6:00pm. Late lunch or early dinner might not be easy to find.
Four days here is just not enough! Our day’s adventure is a ferry trip to Bruny Island, and exploring the island. On the way, we stopped at Shot Tower, the only remaining circular sandstone tower in the world. Once lead bullets were manufactured there. If you choose, you can climb the 259 steps for breathtaking views. A tea room at ground level serves tea fare. It takes about 30 minutes to drive to Kettering to catch the ferry, and another 20 minutes crossing D’Entrecasteaux Channel. The crossing fee is $25 A or about $ 20 USA. We just drove onto the ferry, and we were allowed to get out while crossing. There are no concessions for the crossing, but there is a small café with restrooms at the landing on the mainland side, and restrooms only on the Bruny Island side. http://www.brunyisland.org.au/
We stopped at the Penguin Rookery, and were disappointed to find no penguins. The views from the top of the hill, however, were incredible! 360 degrees of ocean, mountains, beach, and plant life! The water was very cold, so I only got one foot in, but I think that counts as being in the water. We drove to Alonnah and Lunawnna, both very tiny villages, and stopped for lunch at the Hothouse Café, a sweet oasis. It is really a small hothouse, but the food was very good. We shared chicken focaccia and smoked salmon focaccia, a glass of house wine and a Tasmanian beer, for $48 A or about $38 USA. The menu included soup, salads, and deserts. Just driving around, and stopping to take pictures or a short walk was a leisurely and entertaining afternoon. Driving on sometimes unpaved roads, with the sea on one side, and either forest or pasture with grazing cows and sheep on the other, is an unforgettable experience.
HINT: There are many times cash only is accepted. The ferry ride is cash. Sometimes there is a $20 minimum on credit cards, so take plenty of cash!
Once we returned to Hobart, we took a stroll around Sullivan’s Cove, the waterfront district, looking at the boats and admiring the old buildings.
Then, it was time for dinner and some nightlife! Dinner was one of the best values we’ve had. It’s at Chatterbox, a Malaysian and Singapore eatery on Elizabeth St. in North Hobart. Unpretentious and small, you might pass it by, but don’t! Our Singapore Noodles and Singapore Chili Prawns were deliciously spicy and filling. For a total of $32 A or $26 USA, we were happy. It’s BYO, so add your own wine or beer if you want. Our waiter was efficient and friendly. We left happy! Also, if you are looking for a place to eat at 5:30 or so, don’t fret if nobody is there. Most people here don’t have dinner until at least 6:00.
Chapter 5 – Bruny Island
Then head over to The Queen’s Arms, just down the street and across the street. “Black Coffee” was playing until 8:30 when “Clockwork Orange “takes over. Good music and dancing if you like. Tasmanians like beer and wine, so if you want to “go native” order one of those. Cocktails are also available. Service is friendly.
At last, a good soak in the hot tub and it’s a wrap!
Our last day. A bus tour around town gives information and the opportunity to see places we might not know about, so onto the Big Red Bus, a double decker, likes London has. Our driver, John, was informative. We saw Cascades Brewery; the ruins of a women’s prison, circa 1820’s; the Customs’ House; Battery Point, the first Hobart suburb; and many more sites. We heard stories: how the Convict Chapel had been called Holy Trinity and attended by both convicts and colonists before the good people decided they didn’t like attending church with convicts and built their own Holy Trinity Church; how the Royal Botanical Gardens once had a zoo; and that the last Tasmanian Tiger, the largest carnivore in the world, became extinct in 1936. We recommend this tour. The price for the bus pass was $26 A each or about $23.50 USA. The “hop on, hop off” pass is good for three days.
The afternoon was time for roaming. The historical village of Richmond was our lunch stop. The Richmond Arms has Tasmanian beers and wines, and good food. Greg sampled the Steak and Guinness Pie, while MaryJo had the Chicken and Mushroom Crepe. Both were tasty! They came with chips (fries) and salad. They were each $18.50 A or about $15 USA. Wines from a local winery totaled $5 A each, or about $4 USA – a bargain! The village itself is quaint and worth a look. There are several places to eat, including tea rooms, pubs, and restaurants. There are shops, a grocery, souvenir stops, and a pretty park. On the way there, wineries abound. A winery tour is a good idea for our next trip there. http://www.australiaeguide.com.au/Richmond.php
Once in the car, we drove towards Port Arthur, to discover what we could along the way. We discovered Pirate’s Bay and the Tessellated Pavement! Amazing views and an amazing geologic phenomenon! The erosion of the ocean has created blocks of stone atop the huge rock! We were impressed! It’s worth the trip. We never made it to Port Arthur, but we were happy with what we found, and Port Arthur will be on the agenda next time.
Chapter 7 Pirates Cove/Tessellated Pavement
Back in town, we chose Irish Murphy’s in Salamanca Place to eat dinner. Two small plates – Garlic Prawns and a mushroom medley were our choices, along with Tasmanian Moo Brew. The two plates were $13.50 A each or about $11 USA. Both were succulent. It was a quiet night, maybe because it was Monday.
While we enjoyed The Lodge at Elizabeth, generally, outside of our room, the hotel temperature was cold. Breakfast was adequate, but it was the same each day. Varying the fruit or adding a hot dish would have been welcome. The hosts, though friendly, seemed to be not easily accessible.
All in all, we have truly enjoyed our visit to Hobart!
Tomorrow – Cairns and warm weather!
Our suggestions for a wallet friendly week end:
Come in on Saturday morning and spend the morning at The Market at Salamanca. Browse, and maybe buy something you must have! Buy brunch. Get a ticket for the city tour and see what there is in town. Check into your hotel. See what Elizabeth St. Mall has to offer, then when the shops begin to close walk up to North Hobart on Elizabeth and decide on dinner. We think Chatterbox is a great deal. Nightlife? The Queen’s Arms is reasonable and has live music most nights. The next day, use your “hop on, hop off” pass. Wander around the waterfront. For supper, Lark has food and live music.