There’s an unfinished quality to Tasmania, something raw. I see how it’s possible for people to create their dreams here, like David Walsh with the Museum of Old and New Art. Exploring Hobart and its surrounds what strikes you is the strong connection to the natural world, in a short amount of time you can be out in the wild – something rare in Australian cities.
Hobart has the endearing quality of being a walking city: for a traveller it very soon feels personal. There’s the strong connection to water- the promenade along the historic docks, the seagulls, the ships coming in with a sense of drama. A port town.
There’s an inherent prettiness to Hobart, as seen up on Battery Point. The gardens of what look like award-winning roses framing the compact Georgian houses, like colour plates from an old English childrens book. Somehow it’s not cloying. It has retained a naturalness, a sense of people actually inhabiting the houses, life going on. Not a hollowed out town of tourist facades and Ye Olde signposts.
The town is a surprising mix of old and new. From the Scandinavian styling of the concrete floors and cowhide rugs of the Franklin located in what was an old Ford showroom, to the excellent Pigeon Hole cafe next door, to the herbs & edible plants growing in the old stables courtyard of the restaurant Ethos Eat Drink. There’s local produce and bunches of luxurious and unruly cottage flowers.
One of my favourite designs was the recently opened Robbie Browns Bar, in Kingston Beach outside of Hobart, designed by the Melbourne interiors firm Gardener & Marks.
MONA is a fascinating experience – the art museum of a philosopher/gambler king. Something about it feels Italian: the land approach through the museums vineyards, the water entry via ferry and up a commanding flight of steps. This is a place that treats you as an adult, no required yet tiring governmental safety lectures. Inspiring to visit somewhere that combines such attention to detail with bold broad strokes. It gives a spice and excitement to the quaintness of Hobart.
There’s magic in this little port town. A place to return to…. the starting point for another adventure…