Over lunch in the Wine Bar at MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in Hobart we rave over the fresh produce on our share platters, in particular the sweetness of the dainty baby carrots. Next day, on a tour of the Derwent Valley, we learn Richard Weston of Weston Farm had delivered those carrots that morning within an hour of picking them. He explains by planting them in March the sugar levels build over winter. “Cool climates produce great produce,” he says.
That’s the beauty of Tassie, everything is so close. On a short break to Hobart it’s possible to savour award-winning food and wine, appreciate world-class art and design, and observe endangered wildlife.
The newly opened ibis Styles Hobart is my home for a two-night getaway, and I love it’s colourful, cheerful vibe, including the funky street-level Asian hawker-style restaurant and bar, Mr Good Guy, which attracts a convivial local crowd.
The hotel is within walking distance of Salamanca Place and Hobart’s docks, where the ferry departs for MONA. After a tasting of Moorilla wines from the onsite vineyard I visit MONA’s latest exhibition, The Museum of Everything, an assortment of art from ‘untrained, unintentional, undiscovered and unclassifiable artists’ from around the world.
Art of a culinary nature is the focus of our Derwent Valley drive, from award-winning paprika and extra virgin olive oil at biodynamic Weston Farm, which also produces gorgeous peony roses, to handmade chocolates and cheeses at Coal River Farm, where I go back for seconds of the sesame and soy chocolate. The restaurant here is surrounded by fruit trees and berry plants and you can pick your own in season.
There are several winemakers in the valley, from the intimate cellar door of Derwent Wines, to the larger Frogmore Creek with its enticing gift shop, and Stefano Lubiana biodynamic and vegan wines. We lunch in the Osteria at Stefano Lubiana, an Italian farmhouse-inspired restaurant serving produce from their garden.
The historic stables at Shene Estate & Distillery are as intriguing as their Poltergeist Gin and MacKey Whiskey, the latter made in the largest copper still in Tasmania. A tour of the stables includes the convict chapel and delicate hexafoil engraved in the sandstone to ward off evil spirits.
Tasmanian devils may sound a bit evil, but at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary they assure us they are not. Endangered due to facial tumour disease, the sanctuary runs a successful breeding program. We also meet Judy the wombat and Luwanna the koala before we’re mobbed by kangaroos eager for our proffered food.
Back in Hobart we dine at Landscape Restaurant & Grill in the old IXL jam factory. Opened in October 2016 it was recently named in Gourmet Traveller’s top 100 restaurants. Chef Olie Mellers burns offcuts of wine, port and whiskey barrels to give a distinctive flavour to steaks cooked on the Asado grill and we learn the bread served is from Pigeon Hole, an enterprise of Weston Farm. As with all the places we’ve been, Mellers says, “We promote and endorse Tassie produce as much as possible.” •
Photography by Briar Jensen
Where to stay
iBis Styles Hobart is a premium economy hotel centrally located on Macquarie Street. accorhotels.com
Where to wine and dine
Mr Good Guy mrgoodguy.com.au
Wine Bar at MONA mona.net.au/eat-drink/wine-bar
Moorilla Wines moorilla.com.au
Coal River Farm coalriverfarm.com.au
Derwent Estate derwentestate.com.au
Stefano Lubiana Wines & Osteria slw.com.auShene Estate & Distillery shene.com.au
Landscape Restaurant & Grill landscaperestaurant.com.au
Pigeon Hole Café westonfarm.com.au/pigeon-hole-cafe
Tourism Tasmania discovertasmania.com.au