Adventure

The 3 Best Places To Drive To In Hobart

According to MONA's Creative Director.

You already know that the Museum of Old And New Art is one of the most interesting art spaces in the world: a dark, ominous “anti-museum” that launched in Hobart in 2011, dedicated to death, decay, perversities and sex. You’ve read about the labyrinthine mess of windowless rooms that house a hundred million dollar collection, built underground and inside cliffs; you’ve imagined the spiral staircase that leads down and down into darkness, around a glass-windowed elevator; and you’re about to imagine the challenging contraption in the public bathrooms, through which you can watch yourself defecate. (Sorry about that.)

You may be aware it has an origin story to rival Isaac Newton and the wayward apple. A story about a man of questionable morals, David Walsh, who invented a gambling system, started a syndicate, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars confounding that snootiest of institutions: the art world.

You’ve probably heard it’s home to one of the greatest music festivals on earth, curated by the Violent Femmes’ bass player, and thrust smugly in your face by everyone you know on Facebook every year. (This year, MONA FOMA – MOFO to its converts – saw sets by Swans, The Clean, Paul Kelly and Midnight Oil, alongside Dan Deacon, Amanda Palmer, and close to 50 other acts across a mindbending variety of genres.)

Forget all that you know about the Museum of Old and New Art; you already want to go there, you don’t need to hear more about why. Instead, we asked the museum’s artistic director, Leigh Carmichael, for the other reasons you should head down to Hobart. Turns out there’s quite a few of them.  

If David Walsh is MONA’s crazy genius father, Leigh Carmichael is the museum’s cool uncle. He grew up in the Huon Valley, an hour south of Hobart, watching as his friends left the peninsula one by one, for bigger pastures – “But I always wanted to stay and work from here.”

Contracted by Walsh to design the labels for ‘Moo Brew’ – the beer arm of the Moorilla winery that shares land with MONA – the graphic designer was later swept up in the plans for the museum itself. Now MONA’s creative director, he’s been instrumental in the success of the challenging art space, and the festival it hosts.

“I wanted my children to grow up in a smaller community, and that’s what Hobart still offers,” he says. “The slower pace of Hobart has always allowed me to delve deeper into the work that I do, and this is important to me. “

MONA announced a creative partnership with AUDI last year – so after Carmichael gave us some travel trips, they gave us an A7 for the day. It was great.


#1 The Scenery: Kunanyi/Mount Wellington

Where: Pinnacle Road, Wellington Park

The drive from Hobart up to Kunanyi, or Mount Wellington, started for us on Cascade Road; the opposite of what it sounds like, because the climb starts quick. Most of Hobart is built onto the foothills of the mountain, which rises to 1281 metres and is only a 14 minute drive from the city. 

To get there, you glide up Pinnacle Road, past huge houses and water views and bushwalk tracks and insane cyclists, who’ve decided that Sunday is the perfect day on which to ride up a mountain in the middle of summer. For the less brave souls who choose air conditioning instead, the city scape and River Derwent fall down behind you as you rise through the forest, cliffs and waterfalls of Wellington Park. It’s much cooler up there, and the view from the top is sensational.

Mount Wellington

This is only halfway up. So imagine that, but double.

“It has such a dramatic visual effect on Hobart,” Carmichael explains, when asked why he chose it as one of his top spots. “I believe that most people who live within view of the mountain are drawn to it for one reason or another. There is a deep emotional attachment, and it’s a very beautiful place to visit; the walking tracks are world class too.”


#2 The Pit-Stop: Peppermint Bay

Where: 3435 Channel Highway, Woodbridge

We drove down and along the mountain, South along Huon Road, past a llama farm, a great old pub and a pretty creek; turning left onto Sandfly Road, through Margate, we passed an adorable suburb called Snug, which sells whole bags of pony poo for $4. Snug is great! 

Just past Lower Snug, we found a fine food and craft fair inside an old hall, with a bluegrass trio playing Leonard Cohen covers, and a delicious array of sweet treats.

brownies

This is how they serve brownies in Snug. Snug is great!

Peppermint Bay is a fine dining institution located on four waterfront acres of Woodbridge, looking out across the d’Entrecasteaux Channel, between Bruny Island and the South East Mainland. Behind you, Mount Wellington rises from the green hills of the Huon region, but we weren’t looking behind us, because this was in front of us. 

peppermint bay

If you stand over the people sitting at this table for long enough, they will eventually stand up and leave.

Once home to The Stackings – a restaurant headed up by star chef David Moyle, which moved to the CBD at the end of 2013 – Peppermint Bay has centred its energy around the Bistro: Modern Australian dining, tapas-style local produce, wood-fire grilled meats, and Tasmanian wine and beers. “It has stunning architecture and great food and wine, in a remote location,” Carmichael says. “It sums up all that is great about contemporary culture in Tasmania.”

We started with the oysters because if you don’t eat oysters in Tasmania you’re doing it wrong; then came grilled octopus ($12), rannoch quail ($17), and gnochetti Sardi with pork sausage and ragu ($22), washed down with a Moo Brew – David Walsh’s own.


#3 The Winery: Home Hill Wines

Where: 38 Nairn Road, Ranelagh

It’s hard to pick just one winery to visit in Hobart; the cool climate spits out grapes that rival Europe’s, with elegant Pinot Noirs and sparkling wines at the top of the list. The multi Award Winning Home Hill produces some of the best of both.

winery

The prettiest grapes in all the land.

 The winery is in the Huon Valley where Leigh Carmichael grew up; his family knows the people behind it.

winery3

Not the worst place I have ever been to.

“Once again, really good architecture, set in the middle of a winery,” he says of the restaurant – another unobtrusive but modern structure, which was designed by architect Brian Wyatt to capture the elements of the environment around it: rolling hills, the Mountain River, and the Sleeping Beauty range that connects with Kunanyi/Mt Wellington. “Again, that’s another mountain that people who grow up in the Valley have a connection with. It sits more quietly than Kunanyi, but its ever present and important for that part of the Island.” 

Home Hill’s flagship wine, the 2011 Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir, won a Double Gold Award in last year’s six nation wine challenge, and was sold out when we visited. Instead, I came home with the 2013 model; I imagine that in two years it will be worth $200,000,000? I know nothing about wine. But it’s fun trying to learn.

This article was provided by AUDI, who announced a creative partnership with MONA last year. They gave me an AUDI S7 to drive around Hobart in. There are certainly worse ways to travel.

(Lead image and all other uncredited photos are author’s own.) 

Check out Qantas flights to Hobart here.