An Aesthete’s Guide to Tasmania

Over the years, Tasmania has become a sizzling hotbed of cultural and culinary dynamism.

Saffire Freycinet. Saffire Freycinet

Tasmania, Australia’s island jewel, is no longer just a blip at the bottom of the map—over the years, it has become a sizzling hotbed of cultural and culinary dynamism, too. In the throes of an economic renaissance largely fueled by tourism, Tasmania is where festivals buzz with energy and gastronomy is an art form. This teardrop-shaped paradise is not just about rugged terrains, but a climate jackpot for wine connoisseurs. The island’s cool climate and pristine air have birthed a winemaking scene that’s turning heads and tantalizing palates. Then there’s Hobart, the cultural heartbeat of Tasmania. This capital city is a smorgasbord of farm-to-fork dining, bustling seafood hubs and the legendary Salamanca Market. 

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But that’s just the appetizer. The cultural scene here, spearheaded by the awe-inspiring MONA, Australia’s largest private museum, is redefining contemporary art on a global scale. And for the design mavericks, the inaugural “Tasmania Makes” exhibition organized by Design Tasmania, running till March 2024, is a must-visit. This aesthete’s utopia is where local genius meets global appeal, featuring everything from micro-scale housing solutions to sustainable surfboard innovations, showcasing not just design, but a vision of a sustainable and creative future. Beyond the showcase, Tasmania is calling out to the style-savvy, the cultural aficionados and the culinary adventurers. Ready for an epic Tasmanian chapter in your travel diary? Read on to discover the best that this island has to offer.

Where to Stay

The Tasman. The Tasman

The Tasman

12 Murray St, Hobart TAS 7000, Australia

Architecturally, the Tasman it’s a triptych of time: the 1840s Georgian elegance, the 1937 Art Deco chic and the crisp lines of the new Pavilion. Architecture firms FJMT and Joseph Pang Design Consultants have played a clever hand here, threading these eras together with a distinctly Tasmanian touch. Think sassafras inlaid in illuminated Art Deco ceilings and a show-stopper blackwood bathtub in the St David’s Park Suite. The room choices are a designer’s trifecta with no luxury spared: Heritage for the classicists, Art Deco for the style-savvy and contemporary for the trendsetters. The Tasman’s location is also a knockout, a mere five-minute strut to Hobart hotspots like Narryna House and the MONA ferry.

Saffire Freycinet. Saffire Freycinet

Saffire Freycinet

2352 Coles Bay Rd, Coles Bay TAS 7215, Australia

Saffire Freycinet is an architectural marvel; a former caravan park transformed into a luxury escape. The design, a brainchild of Circa Architecture, is a two-part act: a stingray-shaped visitor center and a lineup of suites strung along the shore like beached treasures. The resort treads lightly on its 27-acre canvas, prioritizing the revival of native flora and ecosystems. Every existing plant was given a stay of execution, with protection zones set up to let the local greenery flourish alongside the resort’s rise. This eco-conscious approach allowed the site’s endemic species to grow back in harmony with the new structures. 

Henry Jones Art Hotel
Henry Jones Art Hotel. Henry Jones Art Hotel

Henry Jones Art Hotel

25 Hunter St, Hobart TAS 7000, Australia

Spread across seven old warehouse buildings, this hotel is an art enthusiast’s paradise, sitting pretty right on the wharf. The Henry Jones Art Hotel is a reinvented gem, turning an 1820s jam factory into an industrial-chic sanctuary where history (once sticky with confiture) now mingles with a cool, contemporary art vibe. Imagine waking up to the symphony of boat masts and seeping in the salty tales of Hobart’s early days. Then, dive into a visual feast with one of Tasmania’s most impressive collections of modern art and crafts, 500 pieces strong.

Clifton Homestead. Clifton Homestead

Clifton Homestead

2 Louisa St, Ranelagh TAS 7109, Australia

Nestled in the Huon Valley, this hideaway is a journey into quaint luxury. The centerpiece, a former oast house, boasts a dark wooden exterior and a formidable frame that commands attention. Every trinket, painting and piece of furniture in the high-ceilinged living room is a snippet of proprietors Carolyn and Graeme Holmes’ global adventures echoing a rich, traveled life. Kiln Eatery, the latest culinary offering from the Clifton team, is also a must-visit. 

Mona Pavilions

655 Main Rd, Berriedale TAS 7011, Australia

Crafted by Fender Katsalidis, each Pavilion salutes a groundbreaking artist or architect, marrying five-star luxury with Mona’s penchant for the unconventional. These architectural marvels, with their bold steel and glass, challenge traditional privacy norms. Two boast a dramatic diamond-shaped frame encasing a timber-clad bedroom sanctuary. A third adds a playful mezzanine, while the fourth stands as a tri-level spectacle, its aluminum façade and concrete accents melding into the native landscape.

What to do

Museum of Old and New Art. Unsplash/Don Ricardo

Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)

655 Main Rd, Berriedale TAS 7011, Australia

An essential stop for design enthusiasts, Hobart’s world-famous MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, is a cultural juggernaut that’s anything but ordinary. Its founder, David Walsh, an eccentric millionaire with a taste for the avant-garde, has created a subterranean space that defies typical museum norms: Arrive via a cargo-clad boat, a cruise that sets the stage for the unconventional experience that awaits. MONA’s collection is as eclectic as it gets, ranging from ancient Egyptian artifacts to cutting-edge contemporary art, blurring lines between historical and modern, beauty and provocation. The museum employs “The O,” a location-aware device providing interactive curator’s notes and artist interviews, replacing traditional explanatory plaques. 

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) 

Dunn Pl, Hobart TAS 7000, Australia

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart is a must-visit for anyone with a keen eye for design and history. As Australia’s second-oldest museum, its roots trace back to the Royal Society of Tasmania, established in 1843, which underscores its rich historical significance. One of its highlights is the First Peoples Art and Culture department, boasting a global indigenous collection of over 12,000 objects and artworks. The museum doesn’t shy away from hosting blockbuster traveling exhibitions, providing visitors with a rotating glimpse into various art forms and cultures, such as colonial decorative arts and the poignant collection about the now-extinct thylacine (Tasmanian tiger).

Salamanca Arts Centre. JESSE HUNNIFORD

Salamanca Arts Centre

17–21 Salamanca Pl, Hobart TAS 7000, Australia

Established in 1975, this arts emporium sprawls across seven heritage buildings, boasting an array of artist studios, galleries and venues. The Centre is a hive of artistic activity, close to the waterfront and the city’s central business district renowned for its vibrant arts community, where visitors can meander through galleries and shops, immerse themselves in live music at The Courtyard and explore contemporary visual arts and design exhibitions in the Long Gallery. The Sidespace Gallery offers a subsidized space for professional artists, while Kelly’s Garden hosts outdoor exhibitions, providing a serene space for reflection. 

Where to shop

Design Tasmania

Corner of Brisbane and, Tamar St, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

Design Tasmania, set in Launceston’s iconic City Park, is a hub for showcasing the island’s prowess in ceramics, metal, wood, glass and wicker design. The gallery is renowned for its light-filled space, making it the perfect backdrop to explore Tasmania’s design heritage. It houses a standout permanent collection of over 70 pieces of contemporary wood design, assembled since 1990. Design Tasmania’s “Tasmania Makes” exhibition, running until March 2024, features the innovative work of 12 local artists and designers, featuring creations like small-scale aging-in-place objects by an architect, sustainable surfboard materials by a lighting designer and composting toilet designs by a master ceramicist.

The Drill Hall Emporium. The Drill Hall Emporium

The Drill Hall Emporium

187 Cimitiere St, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

This one-time army drill hall, masterfully commandeered by a chic mother-daughter duo, is where utilitarian meets ornamental, catering to the globe-trotting, vintage-savvy buyers in search of rarities. It’s a haven for those seeking the unique and the exquisite in the world of antiques.

Home Room Design

6 Bidencopes Lane Hobart, TAS 7000, Australia 

From one-off homewares to statement clothing and jewelry, Home Room Design is the epitome of hidden gem shopping, located in a discreet laneway. This spot is a magnet for inspiration, stocked with timeless décor, intricate jewelry and stunningly unique wares from both local Australian and select international designers. 

Luc

117 Murray St, Hobart TAS 7000, Australia

Crafted by acclaimed interior designer Lucy Given, Luc is Tassie’s temple to eclectic home decor, art, fashion and furniture. For the connoisseurs of interior design, this is your playground, with a carefully curated collection that includes Cire Trudon, Tom Dixon and Dinosaur Designs, among other renowned brands. 

Where to eat

Aloft. Jon Gazzignato

Aloft 

1 Brooke St Pier, Hobart TAS 7000, Australia

Aloft, suspended above Hobart’s Brooke Street Pier, is a culinary gem that lives up to its Old Norse name, translating to a “lofty place.” Every detail is meticulously crafted, right down to the locally-made ceramic ware that graces your table. Catering to all tastes, whether you’re vegan, pescatarian or need gluten-free options, Aloft’s kitchen effortlessly tailors its menu to suit your preferences. Choose a counter seat for a front-row ticket to a culinary spectacle, where the chefs become stars of the show, expertly preparing dishes like savory mushroom dumplings or exotic wallaby tartare. 

Peppina. Peppina

Peppina

2b Salamanca Pl, Hobart TAS 7000

Peppina offers an Italian-inspired dinner experience. Its seating arrangement mirrors the intimate, communal dining style of European eateries, creating a unique atmosphere. The highlight here is the handmade pasta, crafted on-site with authentic flair, with dishes like the paccheri Genovese with wagyu beef shin and pork belly ragu—plating the essence of slow-cooked, passion-infused, love-laden cuisine. 

Pigeon Hole Café

130 Elizabeth St, Hobart TAS 7000, Australia

Pigeon Hole is the epitome of organic and biodynamic harmony famed for its simple yet captivating menu that includes exceptional pastries (with dairy-free and gluten-free options, too). True to the café’s commitment to local culture, the café’s custom “Pigeonhole Chairs” are an extension of this ethos. Handcrafted by Jon Grant, a master craftsman from Derwent Valley, these chairs blend modern design with age-old artisan techniques, all created using hand tools to preserve the authenticity of craftsmanship.

The Saturday Salamanca Market. LightRocket via Getty Images

Salamanca Market

Salamanca Place, Hobart TAS 7000, Australia

Wander through over 300 lively stalls at this must-visit attraction, taking place each Saturday since 1972. It’s a veritable feast for the senses, with the market’s famous street food ranging from gourmet pies to sweet crepes and oven-baked potatoes made to order. Don’t miss the array of handcrafted jewelry, local wines and spirits and delicate ceramics. 

An Aesthete’s Guide to Tasmania