Follow along on my journey through magical Tasmania, as I road trip over 4 days heading down the Tasman Peninsula and then a leisurely drive back into Hobart and its surrounds.
Words by Sibella Court
It doesn’t take much for me to say yes to a trip to Tasmania. And with an offer from VOLVO to cruise in a brand new Cross Country V60, I was soon booking a flight for a family long weekend with Ben & Silver.
An early morning flight from rainy Sydney had us touching down before 8.30am, and picking up our ride from Hobart's Volvo dealership and we were off for breakfast at Pigeon Whole Bakers.
We had word from our lovely host at The House of the Weedy Seadragon, our stay for a few evenings, to stock up in Hobart with supplies. So with a little online pre-ordering, we swung by Hill St Grocer & picked up local wines at Gasworks Cellar Door in Hobart.
After stopping at Sorell Antique Centre, the landscape quickly becomes rural and then in a blink of an eye country to wilderness. We kept lookout for roadside local produce signs from honey to gin whilst thoroughly enjoying the cruisy consistent 100km speed limit on windy unpopulated roads that are in great condition with the most breathtaking, car-stopping picture-worthy landscape.
Then down the peninsula to Port Arthur historic site. For me this site has been overshadowed by the horrific shootings in the 80’s. And although its history prior to that was also washed in bloodshed and displacement, its remote location and mind boggling scale is a rewarding visit.
It is monumental, a true feat of the strength and capability of sheer manpower.
In today’s world, it is remote but imagine back in the 1800’s. Obviously chosen by colonists for its bountiful natural resources of timber, lime, sandstone and positioning in a small protected cove.
Imagine the industry and soundscape to build this outpost;
A beautiful windy drive back to Eaglehawk Neck for a couple of nights at the beach shack romantically named, the House of the Weedy Seadragon. It sits on the beach protected by a grass covered dune with a perfect little path through bushes to Pirates Bay with its grey sands, giant kelp & large blue mussel shells washed up on the tideline.
A working boat ramp with a huddle of boat sheds hugs the corner with serious looking fishing boats heading out from the bay to the ocean to catch tuna.
A quick entry point to the Tasman Sea on the edge of the continental shelf and the closest Australian landmass to the Antarctic.
The House of the Weedy Seadragon is a batch-style beach shack with its living room spilling out to mountains and bay. A barrel sauna perched on the dune captures higher views of the wilderness over the bay in a romantic round window, catching the last of the setting sun.
A sleepy town, with no shop, however a short drive up the road with the most spectacular views is Cubed coffee, housed in a van overlooking the peninsula and on the way to the ‘Tessellated tiles’ for a few hours exploring this fascinating naturally formed rock shelf emulating rectangular shaped paving.
After a couple of days, we head back toward Hobart via my must-always-stop town of New Norfolk for Black Swan book shop with the best curation of books I’ve ever come across with coffee & sweets to boot.
Next door is Miss Arthur which supports my theory that everyday items can be well designed with good quality materials. My favourite antique shop, The Drill Hall emporium where I never fail to find something unexpected and around the corner Flywheel for all your paper & art supply needs!
We are staying at The Rox, in the heart of the city where old meets new in perfect harmony. A Victorian heritage house and old Scotch College restored of its architectural detailing with a modern interior framework by Core Collective Architects and stylist Tess Newman-Morris exposing the palimpsest of the turn of the last century where possible.
The original house snuggles up close to the new build, of curves and soft render, which cleverly allows its heritage neighbour to breathe but gives it just the right tension and palette to understand they are related. More apartment than hotel with a full kitchen and multiple rooms, tempts a longer stay especially with the promise of in-room dining by fabulous hole-in-the-wall, Sonny located down the road (visit if you can).
Saturday night starts early with a brisk walk down the hill to Institute Polaire for a family dinner. Owners, Nav & Lou make their own gin, bottled cocktails plus have Simbah wines - based on the lunar cycle in 35 year old vineyards – be sure to get your hands on it here as it’s hard to come by!
Sunday morning takes us strolling to the Farmers market on Bathurst street for breakfast options amongst the beautiful produce which I bought home with me, much to Ben’s chagrin. I’m happy cruising the streets of Hobart particularly Battery Point. I look at the architectural details, taking lots of photos particularly of the enclosed verandahs they treat so beautifully. Try ‘In Bobby’s Footsteps’ the self-guided walking tour found here
The afternoon & final day are saluted with a drink and snacks at Sonny. I snuck in a family-free hour chatting to the staff, listening to some records, drinking pinot with prosciutto (shhh don’t tell Ben) before jetting back to Sydney.
In collaboration with VOLVO