Tasmania: an isolated island state on the south coast of mainland Australia.
I remember back in the day I had this perception of Tasmania being a cold and dreary place populated by sheep. Perhaps I thought of it as a poor man’s New Zealand. Sometimes us school kids would accidentally leave it off the map of Australia in geography class. Of course, over the last few years I’ve lost that naivety (or so I’d like to think).
Everywhere in the world can be beautiful, if you choose to believe it. Though recently, beauty to me lies in the natural world as opposed to the brick and mortar of big cities. I’m tired of big cities.
It was about time that I finally escaped the throes of Sydney and the big city hustle. Tasmania seemed like a wonderful escape. I wanted to be back to where I knew I would feel a sense of belonging – the mountains. I have an affinity with the natural world that I can’t and probably will never be able to comprehend. I could sit by fjords, look up at magnificent mountains, study the rough and smooth textures of terrain, watch water crash against rocks and shores for eternity. Well, perhaps not for all of eternity – a girl’s got to eat and sleep too, I suppose.
And thus, Tasmania has become My Happy Place in Australia.
We stayed at the Last Studio – Last Rubix Cuban in a self-contained villa designed by architect Steven Last, aptly named The Last Villa. We arrived late at night so it was difficult to find as the studio/cabin is located at the bottom of a winding stone staircase. Despite this, it was a nice cosy studio and perfect for our short stay in Hobart.
One of the most recommended things to do in Hobart is the Salamanca Markets. Located in Salamanca Place, the markets are open every Saturday between 8:30am to 3:00pm. We stopped by in the morning to have a peruse. I don’t know how to describe the ambience, except that I had west-European market vibes as Mattias and I walked through the two lanes of market stalls. The only difference was that they sold a lot of handmade Australian items. I’d like to boast the fact that before I became conscious of my consumer habits, I would have bought so many useless tidbits and souvenirs. I think this calls for a round of applause! Mattias bought a pair of possum fibre gloves and we ate a German bratwurst before bidding adios to the Salamanca Markets.
Our next stop was Mount Wellington. This was the highlight of the day for me, mostly because I had been craving being back in touch with nature. The drive up the mountain was slow and steady thanks to our trusty Kia Rio rental (apologies to all the cars that were behind me) and every so often I would take my eyes off the road to look at the amazing scenery as we ascended.
When we reached the top, I was completely breath taken. Not so much at the view of Hobart, but more so at the nature of the plateau. It felt as though there was a spiritual presence amongst the rocks and the flora. Maybe it’s just my recent interest in shamanism, but I felt a sense of peace that I’ve been lacking in my day-to-day life in Sydney.
The weather was intense at the top of the mountain. I’m sure it dipped to around 0°C because a little bit of snowy ice started falling from the low clouds that hung overhead. Our fingers became numbingly cold as we took photos and breathed in the view. Luckily there was a small shelter that we could hide in after our limbs could no longer withstand the elements. The winds progressively worsened so we braved it and ran to our car with specks of ice flying into our eyeballs. It reminded me of that time when Mattias and I went to Trollstiegen in Norway and the weather decided to unleash it’s turmoil upon us. Mountains, man.
MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)
We didn’t know what to do after descending Mount Wellington. Luckily, my friend had told me about MONA – The Museum of Old and New Art. About a twenty-minute drive from central Hobart, MONA is an underground museum located at the top of a lush vineyard. If you’re into weird contemporary installations or historical artefacts, you’ll love MONA. It’s a bit of a mind-cluster and after a while, Mattias and I were on the verge of insanity.
I didn’t take many photos inside the museum because there were some strange works of art – like a diverse range of sculptured vaginas that hung along the museum walls. Not that I don’t appreciate this type of art (I wrote many essays about Duchamp and his infamous urinal in art class… and came first in said class. Lol, how did that happen?), but my preference usually errs towards paintings and illustrations.
It was still a nice experience though and the museum itself is an impressive architectural work.
Battery Point / Arthur Circus
We ended our day around the Battery Point suburb, south of central Hobart. We went for a brisk walk, admiring the quaint historical (and rather extravagant) cottages. There’s a little place called Arthur Circus that we stumbled upon that epitomises the extravagant homes. It’s a nice residential area – if not a little overly manicured.
Our main purpose for the walk was really to find food. After pondering over our choices (Italian? Australian? Asian?) we ended up at Monsoon, a cosy Thai Fusion restaurant. I loved the décor – they captured that cosy feeling well. The gentle acoustic music playing in the background probably helped, too. The food though? It was presented nicely and had a lot of potential. The roasted duck pancakes were a win for the entrée. Unfortunately, the caramelised pork belly was too tough and rubbery for my liking. The flavour was there, though.
Overall, our first day in Tasmania was amazing. It felt so good to be back in my ‘discovery’ mode – something that I had been missing when confined to my office day in and day out. Travel definitely makes it on the list of things that make me happy. I guess that’s one step closer to self-actualisation? Maybe, maybe not.
But the journey doesn’t end there, folks. The following days in Tasmania only get better. I’ll try and get the next blog post up soon. Some things you can expect: a country-side road trip listening to the soothing jojks of Jon Henrik Fjällgren; a one-night stay at a $400+ resort; and jaw-dropping nature.
Over and not-quite-out,
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