Get Off The Grid As Soon As You Land
Like many places worth visiting, getting to Tasmania requires going the extra mile. From Singapore, I took a seven-hour Qantas flight to Melbourne, and after a seamless connection then another hour-long hop, I arrived in the island’s capital of Hobart. A two-and-a-half-hour drive northeast took me to Freycinet National Park, an unspoilt part of the world anchored by the mesmerising Hazards mountain range and the crystal clear waters of Coles Bay. Breathtaking landscapes are aplenty in Tasmania, and its burgeoning food and art scene credit its rise to the island's pristine surrounds.
Stay: Check In At The Luxurious Saffire Freycinet
Although Tasmania is known for its rugged allure, you won't have to rough it out if you stay at Saffire Freycinet. Quite the opposite, actually. Part of the Luxury Lodges of Australia portflio, it's not hyperbole to say that this hotel helped put Tasmania on the map for high-end travellers.
The careful way in which Saffire Freycinet was conceived, constructed and run explains why the eight-year-old hotel alone is worth travelling to Tasmania for. Every detail of the property pays tribute to its locality: every window is positioned to frame the panorama, every piece of furniture is inspired by surrounding hues and textures, and every dish honours local Tasmanian produce. The thoughtful design of award-winning Tasmanian architect Robert Morris Nunn leaves the faintest imprint on the landscape, while the sincere, delightful service leaves an indelible mark on guests.
Visit Freycinet Marine Farm For An Oyster Adventure
No matter the weather, a stop at Freycinet Marine Farm is a must. Even though it was the depth of winter when I visited, I put on green waders and walked towards a table planted in the middle of the sea. Considering Tasmania's reputation of having harsh winters, I was happy to trade sitting beside a warm, crackling fire and be outdoors to savour Freycinet Marine Farm's famous oysters right at the source.
Here's the agenda: You huddle around a table and enjoy the freshest oysters—harvested a few steps away, shucked on the spot, and washed down with fine Tasmanian sparkling wine. While the farm is open to other travellers, this specific culinary experience is reserved for guests of Saffire Freycinet. Our group of four made it count: we devoured 74 oysters by the end of it.
Follow A Food Map Then Walk It All Off
Australia's southernmost state is well-known for its seafood—oysters and abalone in particular—and a large number of the 1.28 million international tourists who make their way here are certified food lovers. They map out their gourmet adventures with stops at wineries, distilleries and myriad farms. Even if you're not going on a food trail, don't miss homegrown Tassie products such as Bruny Island cheese, as well as a selection of robust local gins at local restaurants.
After all that eating, you can choose from over 880 walks through national parks, reserves and conservation areas. During my stay at Freycinet, I went on the Wineglass Bay Walk, a gentle hike through sculptural pink granite formations that ended at a viewing point to take in the majestic scenery.
Venture To Hobart For A Cultural Immersion
Winter solstice is usually the sleepiest time of the year in Tassie, but not when you visit during Dark Mofo (more on that later). The city's best base is "storytelling hotel" Macq01, a new boutique property right by Hobart's waterfront. Its central location means everything is within walking distance. During my visit, I strolled to Winter Feast, Dark Mofo’s food festival, as well as to Dark Park, an exhibition filled with installations and live performances. The morning after, I woke up to a serene view of the marina and the mountains, and took a leisurely walk to the historic Salamanca Market, where dozens of makers and artisans sell their wares outdoors.
Embrace Hobart's Alternative Art Scene At MONA
To the uninitiated, Hobart might be the last place on earth you would think of going to in the name of art but the establishment of the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) changed everything. Since opening in 2011, the private museum founded by millionaire gambler David Walsh has challenged traditional perceptions. From its suburban location (one must take the wacky Mona Roma ferry to get to it) to the provocative multimillion collection of art and antiques (which includes the famed Cloaca Professional aka “shit machine” that replicates the digestive system), every aspect of the museum is unconventional to say the least. Love it or hate it, MONA has unleashed the “Bilbao effect”—it is one of the reasons why tourist arrivals have increased by 40 per cent since 2012.
In Winter, Join In The Fun Of Dark Mofo
As one of the two festivals run by MONA, Dark Mofo (which runs in June) has courted as much controversy as the museum and its founder. The moment you land into Hobart, you'll notice that the entire city is bathed in crimson light, a sign of support for Dark Mofo, and a testament to how much countervailing culture thrives here. This year, they erected inverted crosses on the city’s waterfront eliciting denouncements from the Christian community; they also buried 73-year-old artist Mike Parr alive under one of the city’s busiest roads. These headline-grabbing initiatives bring attention to the festival, and in turn Tasmania, elevating it from a nature-only destination to a buzzing cultural hub. Solid proof that in Tasmania, the spectacular scenery is just the start of the many good things to come.