Traditionally, Australia has never really been famous for its culinary traditions in a good way. After all, putting beetroot on your burger just sounds plain weird, doesn’t it? But these days more and more people are discovering that the cuisine of Down Under is about more than beer, beer, more beer and Vegemite. There are entire regions that are a foodie’s paradise with their fresh produce, excellent markets and restaurants and food festivals.
If you love food, why not head south to Tasmania on a gastronomic road trip?
Setting out: Hobart
The best place to begin your journey is in Hobart, the state capital. Fly into Hobart International Airport from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra or Gold Coast and then hire a car, since the city centre is about 15 km away and you’ll need wheels anyway to make your way around the island.
Hobart is the second oldest city in Oz, having been founded in 1804. Wander around and explore the Victorian and Edwardian architecture, browse the shops and art galleries and relax in the Botanical Gardens. One of the city’s main attractions is MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, which opened here in 2011. Its rather quirky collection includes contemporary art but also Egyptian mummies.
Probably Hobart’s most famous attraction is the Salamanca Market. Held every Saturday at the Hobart Waterfront, this is the place to get your introduction to Tassie’s culinary treasures.
In fact, the area is filled with eateries. Don’t forget to try some fresh seafood and wash it down with Cascade Premium Lager. In fact, if you’re serious about beer, why not go right to the source? Cascade Brewery is in South Hobart and is the oldest of the breweries still operating in Australia.
Picking and fishing: Kettering and Bruny Island
The next destination is Kettering, a little over 30 km south of Hobart. It’s a tiny town on the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and it was just north of here, at Oyster Cove, that the last of Tasmania’s Aboriginal settlements used to be. Today the area is well known for its fruit production.
After you’ve had your fill of Kettering, hop on the ferry to Bruny Island. Take your rental car across too, since it will make it easier for you to get around the island. Bruny Island is characterised by large fields and eucalyptus forests inland and dramatic cliffs and rock formations along the coast.
All that fresh air and activity will naturally make you hungry, and there are plenty of gourmet goodies to be found on Bruny Island. Australia’s southernmost winery is located here and you’ll simply have to visit, since you’ll need a stellar tipple to enjoy with the fresh oysters you’ll be shucking.
Wine and fine dining: Launceston
Launceston lies about 200 km north of Hobart and is Tassie’s second largest city. You can fly in from Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane but why not drive up from Hobart instead? This will allow you to appreciate the Tasmanian landscape along the way.
The city lies in hilly country where the South Esk and North Esk Rivers flow into the Tamar River and has, since its foundation in 1806, been a major centre for the region’s agricultural communities. Once a major apple-growing area, Launceston and other towns in the Tamar Valley are now in a prime wine region.
Launceston is also home to the historic J Boag and Son Brewery. At the Tamar Hotel you have a choice of two brewery tours, both of which conclude with a tasting of some of James Boag’s best brews.
The weather in Tasmania
Tassie is one of Australia’s coldest areas, due to factors like its southerly location and its mountainous landscape. Daytime temperatures in summer average around 21 °C, much cooler than on the mainland. In winter, the mercury drops to around 5 °C at night and high up in the mountains you may find snow.
The weather changes very quickly and it’s common to have four seasons in one day here. When you travel around Tasmania, take something warm along and layer your clothes so that you won’t be caught off-guard by sudden changes in temperature.