We love the little island state of Tasmania and were delighted to be able to attend our good friends' wedding in Hobart last month. Visitors to Australia shouldn't skip Tassie. It's such a natural place with beautiful scenery, nature activities, fresh food, wine and friendly locals. Most people begin their journey in the capital city and they shouldn't miss these excellent attractions in Hobart.
1. The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)
About as interesting as the museum itself is the story behind its creation. Tasmanian professional gambler, David Walsh made millions and then built this subterranean wonderland on Berriedale peninsula. The biggest privately funded museum in the country, MONA is home to modern and contemporary art ranging from the bizarre to the macabre. $20 for non-Tasmanians, open daily except for Christmas Day, mona.net.au
2. Salamanca Market and Place
This lively area is home to several bars, cafes, theatres, shops and galleries, but is probably best known for its festive Saturday market. Celebrating its 40th birthday this year, the Salamanca Market features around 300 outdoor stalls every Saturday, attracting thousands of visitors. Enjoy fresh food, music, buskers and shopping the wares of artists and craftsmen in a beautiful setting near the harbour. Market open Saturdays 8.30am - 3pm (and Sunday if the Saturday falls on Christmas or Anzac Day), rain or shine, website
3. Port Arthur Convict Settlement
Located 60 km southeast of the city, the small town of Port Arthur makes for a nice day trip or overnight stay on the Tasman Peninsula. Beautiful and historic, it is best known for its penal colony, housing the worst criminals from Britain and Ireland between 1833 and 1853. This is Tasmania's most popular attraction and tours to the penitentiary, model prison and church ruins are available. It's also possible to visit the nearby Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park (because there's not much chance of seeing a Devil in the wild). portarthur.org.au
4. Cascade Brewery
Tasmania boasts some of the best non-craft Aussie beer and competition is fierce between the two major brands, Cascade and Boag's. Despite the fact that the latter is from Launceston, one bartender told us that many locals in Hobart actually prefer it to their own brew, Cascade. Visitors will have the chance to try both and make their own decision. But whichever one you like best, a visit to the local brewery should be on the cards. Located in a beautiful setting not far from town, the Cascade Brewery offers three different tours with knowledgeable guides and tastings. www.cascadebreweryco.com.au
5. Mt. Wellington
Towering over the city is this 1271 metre (4166ft) mountain and there's more to do there than just driving up to The Pinnacle for a look. The park offers opportunities for bush walking, bike and horseback riding, bird watching and rock climbing among other activities. Picnic areas with barbecues are located at Fern Tree Park, Tolosa Park and The Chalet as well as other areas, which may also include forests, trails and play areas for children. wellingtonpark.org.au
Have you visited Tasmania? What were your impressions?