There is so much more than MONA, as SJ discovered in just three days.
Tasmania has been high on the list of Australia’s hottest destinations since MONA opened in 2011. While many think the museum is the main drawcard to the most southern point of our country, this is far from the truth. There is so much more, as I discovered in just three days.
One night in Launceston
Wishing to experience all Tasmania has to offer, we went straight to the top, flying into Launceston.
Tasmania’s second biggest city is more laid back than its bigger sibling, Hobart. Whatever you do in Launceston, don’t miss Cataract Gorge – just a 10-minute wander from the city, its scenery is guaranteed to blow you away. Surrounded by bushland, the stunning gorge encompasses gardens full of native wildlife, including wallabies and peacocks.
See the Gorge from above on the world’s longest single-span chairlift, or as you walk along the Alexandra Suspension Bridge; or really get amongst it on one of the many walking tracks and free outdoor swimming pool from November to March. You can even stop for a bite to eat at the café, kiosk or highly recommended Gorge Restaurant.
To soak up the local atmosphere, Peppers Seaport is the perfect place to stay in Launceston. Located right on the Tamar River, the hotel offers unrivalled waterfront views.
Only a five-minute walk from the town centre, the hotel sits on the site of an old dry dock and is built in the shape of a ship. The rooms are incredibly spacious – even the Studio rooms feature a lounge area – and more than comfortably accommodate two guests.
When it comes to options for eating, you’re spoilt for choice in the area surrounding Peppers Seaport. Directly below, Cube Café offers a casual and laidback spot for breakfast, coffee or a light bite. Mud Bar and Restaurant also overlooks the marina and offers cuisines from around the world alongside local wines by the glass. Taking a short stroll along the Seaport dock leads you to even more of Launceston’s highly acclaimed gourmet cafes and restaurants, including Stillwater, Hallam’s Seafood and the Black Cow Bistro. I can highly recommend breakfast at Stillwater, with the courtyard as the perfect spot to soak up the serenity.
Wineglass Bay road trip
Halfway between Launceston and Hobart lies breathtaking Wineglass Bay. Easily mistaken for paradise in pictures, and in person too, this is one part of Tasmania you won’t want to miss.
Just over a two-hour drive from Launceston, we arrived at Freycinet National Park to glimpse the sea sparkling beyond the bushland. Sadly, we weren’t able to stay long, but the stunning scenery certainly made me want to come back to this beautiful corner of our country. If you have time, accommodation is available at Coles Bay, ranging from camping and caravan sites to cabins, hostels, B&Bs and resorts.
Head south to Hobart
After a two-and-a-half-hour drive south of the Freycinet peninsula, you’ll find yourself in Tasmania’s capital, Hobart. A hive of activity, Australia’s second-oldest city is hard not to fall in love with – especially with its rich colonial heritage and charm.
With no shortage of sights to see, Hobart really does have something for everyone, with plenty to do and eat.
Salamanca Place is a must-see spot with its sandstone warehouses lined in a row, dating back to the 1830s whaling era. And you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to bars, cafes and restaurants – such as Grape, a lively local wine bar that serves delicious tapas and pizzas and makes for a great spot for dinner. The Salamanca Market – which takes place there every Saturday morning, and has since 1972 – is not to be missed. The market is packed with local creatives selling their wares and there are countless food trucks – so hold off on eating breakfast until you get there!
If you need to walk off all that eating, Mount Wellington offers spectacular sprawling views of Hobart. Drive, hike or bike your way up and down and reward yourself with a visit to Cascade Brewery, nestled in the mountain’s foothills.
While there’s certainly more to Hobart than MONA, there is no disputing Hobart philanthropist David Walsh has turned the Australian art world on its head with is innovation. There’s nothing quite like MONA anywhere else in the country, the entire experience of visiting this progressive gallery will leave you thinking about it for months on end.
To get there, choose from the bus or ferry, both of which depart from Salamanca Place, or drive round to Berriedale yourself. Decked out in true MONA style, the ferry is probably the best option, with half an hour of scenic sea views before you arrive. Your experience at MONA will be largely dependent on which artists are exhibiting at the time; and before you book your trip it’s worth checking this as well as whether any areas are under construction. Sadly, when we went, the exhibition on the ground floor was rather uninspiring and many people were changing their return ferry ride to earlier timeslots.
Despite that, the grounds themselves are well worth visiting, with a bar, restaurant, cafe, brewery, winery and library encompassed. You can also stay at MONA should you so desire.
A four-minute walk from the waterfront, the Mantra One Sandy Bay Road is accommodation that I can’t recommend highly enough. The rooms are huge and contain all the amenities you need, even the studio option accommodates a kitchenette with dishwasher, microwave oven, toaster and bar fridge. Located opposite Saint David’s Park, the hotel is minutes from the CBD and an ideal spot to explore Hobart. So close, in fact, that you’ll have no need for a car.
There’s certainly so much more of Tasmania to discover. So, if you have a spare weekend, make it a long one and see all that this spectacular state has to offer. One thing’s for sure: you won’t be disappointed. If anything, you’ll leave wanting more.
SJ stayed as a guest of the Mantra Group at Peppers Seaport in Launceston and Mantra One Sandy Bay Road in Hobart.
If you would like the chance to win two nights’ accommodation for two in a River View Suite at Peppers Seaport enter here.
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