As many of you know, Jas and I decided to head down to Tassie to spend Xmas and New Years exploring Hobart and catching up with our good friends Katie and George. Amazingly, we managed to slip in a few days with our good friends Jane and Sam too – perfect timing if you ask me! We had no specific reason for the trip, but we worked hard throughout first and second year uni, and Katie wanted some company over the holidays, so we made the decision early to head to Tassie and treated ourself to an extended holiday.
To save a bit on flights, we ended up catching a very inconvenient early morning plane from the Gold Coast to Hobart. For some reason, we never full calculate the time we need to leave home when we book flights; we were definitely up at dark-thirty to get a taxi to the bus stop before riding the bus from Southport to Coolangatta. The bus was great – it was only about $2.00 each for the entire trip! The flight down takes just under 3 hours – just enough time to get a few episodes of Sons of Anarchy in before you need to switch everything off for landing.
Katie and George kindly offered to look after us while we stayed in Hobart. They have a beautiful old cottage in North Hobart, only a small stroll from the centre of town. The walk into town takes you past half a dozen brilliant coffee shops, quite a few restaurants and is mostly downhill. This means you can pretty much wake up and roll down town for coffee and breakfast; the perfect location if you ask me!
Jas and I had never been to Tassie before but we had heard how good it is from numerous people. We had high expectations of the countryside, the food and wine, and the friendliness of the locals, and we were definitely not disappointed. We took thousands of photos, ate some amazing fresh, locally sourced produce and met some beautiful people while we were in town. What more could you ask for on holiday?
Hobart is bustling over the Xmas and New Year period. Firstly, most people get time off work for Christmas, but there are also some large events on that help raise the energy in town. The Sydney-to-Hobart boats arrive from the 28th of December, the Taste Festival (food and wine festival) starts around the same time and goes for about a week, the cricket season draws to a close (which is great when you have a vested interested in the games!) and of course, New Years Eve celebrations take place. Jas and I had planned to get involved in as much as we could!
The free time we had between big events was spent exploring as much as Hobart as we could. We wandered up and down streets, took detours past interesting buildings and walked across town for specific coffee shops or restaurants. Though walking can often be a really inefficient use of time when you have a lot planned, it’s the only way I find I can really take in the surroundings. I took hundreds of photos of buildings, sculptures, textures and colours.
With our families up in Queensland, Jas and I tagged along for a Bailey Christmas. It was so much fun. We ate too many Tassie cherries, fired off Xmas crackers, laughed a lot and lit Nanna’s Xmas pudding on fire numerous times (I think I’m still a little hungover from the brandy in that pudding). Thanks for letting us enjoy Xmas with you guys! Â We also went along to the NYE party that was thrown by Katie’s brother and his lovely girlfriend – it was Great Gatsby themed, full catered and had one of the best views over Salmanca to the fireworks – in summary, it was perfect!
George plays a bit of cricket every now and then. Naturally, Jas and I really wanted to go and support George at least once while we were in Hobart; we were actually lucky enough to go to 3 games! The 20-20 matches are great fun and can be played in a single afternoon. George had some great games and was on a bit of a win streak while we were down. I even found Alan from the Hangover at one of the games.
Hobart sits at the base of Mt Wellington, a 1200m high moster that towers over the town. We’d been told that if you can see the top of the mountain, you should definitely head straight up there for a good view over Hobart and the bay as the weather can change quite quickly, obscuring the view before you get to the summit. We had a free morning Christmas Day and had planned a picnic on the beach, but the weather was great, the mountain was clear and we spontaneously decided to head up to the summit. On the way, George told us some stories of his friends who have completed the Pinnacle to Point – a gruelling half-marathon from the bay to the summit of Mt Wellington. It was all I could think about on the long, winding road to the top. It was warm in Hobart when we left, but really cold with a decent wind-chill on the mountain when we jumped out of the car: in hindsight, George and I were probably a little underdressed. We took some photos at the top and tried to spot significant sites and peninsulas in the distance before heading back down the mountain to a picnic on the beach. Not a bad Christmas Day.
Hobart has a lot of parks and walking tracks. Though some areas are quite hilly, the town is very pedestrian-friendly and well shaded from the sun. Jas and I embarked on a long walk one morning that spanned 2-meals and took us to almost every corner of the city. The first stop was the Botanical Gardens. Most cities have a botanical garden; some are really impressive and others are shamed by Jas’ backyard herb garden. Hobart’s botanical gardens is a ripper! Almost everyone has pretty flowers growing in their front yard in Hobart, so we had high expectations for the city’s display and we were not disappointed. Upon entering the gardens, you can either choose a path to wander along or find a spot on the lush green grass to picnic or read a book. We decided to wander around and quickly came to a stunning lily pond, complete with an antique, white bridge. We then headed to the fern-forrest that was dark and damp, full of crawlers and vines. We found a succulent section and some interesting cacti, an antarctic room with grasses growing in sub-zero conditions (brrrrrrrrr) and a huge herb garden where I had to restrain Jas from taking cuttings. The most impressive section, in my opinion, was the orchid building, full of beautiful flowers and well manicured pots. When you leave the grounds, have a stroll past Government House that has some pretty impressive flowers and plants itself. There is even a few cows in a little paddock that you have to walk past – apparently it’s the closest farm to a CBD in Australia!
I have always loved boats. The bigger, the better. I was in boat-heaven when Jas and I stumbled around the piers in Monaco a few years ago. Though the style of boat is different, the big players in the Sydney-to-Hobart are equally as impressive. Jas and I got a glimpse of the 2nd and 3rd place getters as they rounded Bruny Island while we were there, and by the time we got back to Hobart, most of the bigger boats were tied up in Salamanca. This meant we could slowly stroll past them on the pier and have a good look at all of the gear splayed out to dry. The yachts are beautiful in their own way, even just sitting in the calm water of the bay. It’s a nice contrast to how I would usually see them – in full action mid-race on TV suffering from a post-Xmas food-coma. The nice part about being there when the boats arrive is that they cross the finish line and then slowly travel past the Taste Festival where everyone stops their conversations and gives them a loud, standing ovation, no matter where the boat placed. It’s awesome to see.
The Taste Festival is a must-do in Hobart, if you’re there at the right time. All of the best local produce, boutique wine and cider producers and some of the most delicious looking desserts are readily available for you to indulge. Think some of Bruny’s best cheese, some locally produced crushed apple cider and a lazy afternoon snacking on felafel or pork shoulder, (for those who enjoy eating animals). The food and drink is somewhat pricey, though the festival is free to enter and has a lot of entertainment on offer too – bands, buskers and other performers are constantly keeping patrons grinning or dancing. Not bad for a free festival!
Being “Foodies”, Jas and I sampled a lot of what Hobart had to offer. We crossed the city to visit some of the nicest cafes, got diabetes from a mid-afternoon bakery indulgence and enjoyed most of Hobart’s curry houses. The highlight though, other than Georges’ home cooking, was definitely Garagistas. This restaurant is one of those ones where you can’t book – you need to turn up, put your name on the list, have a few drinks elsewhere and then return when you’re called. Personally – to anyone thinking of opening that style of restaurant – that system sucks. But if the food is awesome, it’s worth waiting for. Garagistas was really impressive – I never knew peas could taste so good. We actually joked about going to a kebab shop on the way, knowing that we wouldn’t be eating much food, and after a few wines at home, fired up the sandwich press to construct a few masterpieces of our own. As it was so hot, we made sure we stayed hydrated under the house. Jas got a bit excited by the cricket gear and tried on a kit before saying “Bloody hell George – how do you run in all this gear?”. She’s a funny one.