Come for the devils and stay for the desserts in weird, wonderful Tasmania
Mount Wellington Observation Center
A strange and beautiful island, from which ships chart their course to Antarctica, Tasmania is a part of Australia like no other. Foodies flock to the “Apple Isle” to devour gorgeous produce that adorns the menus of some of Australia’s finest restaurants. Haunted (like the rest of Australia) by the continuing legacy of colonialism, “Tassie” has long been associated with darkness through infamous figures like the cannibal convict Alexander Pearce, and it even has its own literary sub-genre: Tasmanian Gothic. A sojourn to the capital city of Hobart will allow you to enjoy beautiful art, delicious dining, and a laid-back small-town vibe.
The scrumptious Sweet Envy bakery (341 Elizabeth St.) is owned by Alistair and Teena Wise. Acclaimed pastry chef Alistair formerly co-ran Gordon Ramsay’s pastry kitchen at New York’s The Connaught, and Teena worked at The Greenhouse in London. Pop in to sample a few (or many) of the innovative-yet-nostalgic handmade delights offered, including cupcakes, tarts, cookies, and unique ice cream flavors. Jean-Pascal Patisserie (30 Carlton St.) and Jean-Pascal La Boutique (23 Baker St.) offer a range of French-informed culinary goodies. You can enjoy a chocolate éclair at the cozy patisserie before heading across the road to the Boutique to marvel at croquembouches, brioches, and cakes. Many of the products are made from traditional French recipes, some handed down through five generations of the Lepretre family.
Sweet Envy Bakery
If you’re in the mood for savory tucker (that’s Aussie slang for “food”), check out Pigeon Hole Café (93 Goulburn St.), ZUM Restaurant (29 Salamanca Place), or dine at the award-winning Chinese restaurant Me Wah (16 Magnet Court). Each of these spots will offer you a quick introduction to Tasmania’s diverse, energetic dining culture. The Dark Mofo Winter Feast (Princes Wharf 1) is a memorable culinary event that runs every June during the Dark Mofo Winter Festival operated by the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). The Feast, which celebrates the dark spirit of the winter months, is not to be missed by foodies or those drawn to the macabre. Past Feasts have included scantily dressed young men dancing on tables, art installations, and a gothed-out Ferris Wheel of Death. Taking place over five nights on Salamanca wharf, the festival encourages a Bacchanalian mood of sinful indulgence. Vendors include iconic Tassie companies such as Bruny Island Cheese, Gillespie’s Ginger Beer, and Pagan Cider.
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary (593 Briggs Road) is just half an hour from Hobart via car and is home to local animals including real Tasmanian devils (not that Looney Tunes imposter!). Tassie devils are facing potential extinction due to Devil facial tumor disease, and the Sanctuary focuses on education to help their cause. Day and night tours are available, and feature activities like feeding koalas, emus, and quolls.
A visit to the striking Mount Wellington, which overlooks much of Hobart, is always a memorable experience. Charles Darwin even climbed the mountain once. It’s often covered in snow, sometimes even in summer, and its lower slopes are full of dense forests. It also features a range of walking trails of varying difficulty. Specific trail info is available at discovernaturalhobart.com.
Salamanca Market (Salamanca Place) is a famous Saturday event, attracting thousands of visitors every week. It takes place at beautiful Salamanca Place, which is lined with heritage sandstone buildings converted into galleries, restaurants, and stores selling unique jewelry. Delicious fresh food and drinks are available at the market, buskers perform, and wares created by local artisans, including Huon pine creations, are available for purchase.
Hobart is generally easy to navigate due to many popular sites being in easy walking distance from the city center. The Metro Shop (22 Elizabeth St.) can provide helpful information about bus travel to tourist hotspots and further visitor information is available from the Hobart Travel Centre (20 Davey St.).
The Stranger With My Face Film Festival (77 Salamanca Place) was founded by filmmakers Briony Kidd and Rebecca Thomson to showcase female horror directors and work by independent filmmakers. Past guests include Jennifer Lynch and Mattie Do, the first female director of a Laotian feature film. As annual dates for the festival vary, more information can be found at strangerwithmyface.com. The aforementioned Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) (655 Main Rd. Berriedale) was created by flamboyant professional gambler David Walsh, and since its inception has established itself as a world-class institute, exhibiting works by artists like Matthew Barney and Damien Hirst and hosting visits from iconoclasts like Marina Abramovié. There’s a winery on-site, a music performance space, a movie theatre, and even luxury accommodation on the River Derwent. MONA is a must-visit for all culture vultures. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (Dunn Place) provides a fun experience for those interested in learning more about Tasmanian history. One permanent exhibition tells the story of the hunted-to-extinction Tasmanian tiger. Although the Tassie tiger is long gone, there are a number of people who continue to search for it, believing it still lives secretly in remote bushland.
Article by Sophie Clark
Photographed by Kishka Jensen
This article originally appeared in the June/July 2015 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!