We’ve all heard of the Tasmanian Devil – but what else do we know about the island that gives it its name? While many see desert landscapes and mobs of kangaroos when they picture Australia, the sea-side state of Tasmania proves that there is far more to behold. Almost a fifth of the entire state has been designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Environmental, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), including five convict sites that speak to the land’s unusual heritage as a prison colony. Incredibly diverse and unbelievably stunning, the island’s abundant flora and fauna create picturesque views, from the Tasmanian Wilderness to sandy white beaches, rocky cliffs to lush rainforest. You may find more than you’d think in the land down under — here’s where to start:
Embrace some of the best views that Tasmania has to offer at the MONA Pavilions, a series of eight lavish suites named for renowned architects along the scenic River Derwent. The stunning structural wonders sit adjacent to Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art, offering guests exclusive access to the largest private collection in all of Australia. Each pavilion is entirely unique; “Roy” (named for Roy Grounds) boasts three stories, two bedrooms with spa baths, a wine bar, espresso machine, and “TVs all over the place,” while “Charles” (named for Charles Blackman) features its own art collection, including Blackman’s Cat on the Roof and an assortment of ancient coins. If you can stand to leave the comfort of your stylish suite, grab a bite to eat at the Source, MONA’s minimal, farm-to-table restaurant that lives by the motto ‘think globally, but act locally.’ Don’t forget to check out the heated infinity lap-pool, sauna, gym at the end of a long day.
Though it’s only been around since 2011, The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) has quickly earned a reputation as one of the most gravitating private collections in the entire world. Collector David Walsh describes the eclectic assortment as a “subversive adult Disneyland.” Visit in January to get a glimpse at the museum’s Festival Of Music and Art (MOFO), a broad showcase of new media, dance, theater, visual, and performance arts with the same eclectic vibe as MONA’s unique collection. This is an international creative destination that can’t be missed.
Tasmania has also become a hub for today’s independent musicians, culminating in the annual Falls Music & Arts Festival on New Year’s Eve. Past artists have included The Flaming Lips, Solange, Milky Chance, and Vance Joy.
This magnificent island is truly in its prime – from thriving urban centers to bounteous organic life. Despite its small size, Tasmania packs an astounding magnitude of indigenous wildlife and natural wonders that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Take a cruise along Peppermint Bay for unbeatable views across the d’Entrecasteaux Channel and the rolling hills of Huon. The 23 meter catamaran even passes by Mount Wellington, which is worth a visit in it’s own rite. A hike to its summit will give you an unsurpassable view of Hobart below – be sure to note the distinctive dolerite columns (known as the “Organ Pipes”) that make Wellington one of the city’s most popular destinations. Or you could take a trip to Freycinet National Park, a dramatic display of jagged granite mountains and white sand beaches. But this sight may just be beat by the so-called “Bay of Fires,” a landscape of white beaches, clear blue waters, and brilliant orange granite on the northeastern coast from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point. However, despite countless natural marvels, Cradle Mountain remains Tasmania’s most popular attraction – and it’s easy to see why. Overland Track, a world-famous adventure destination that travels through spectacular mountain terrain over the course of a six-day walk, is just one of the Park’s many highlights; it would be worth a few days to explore the area’s unparalleled beauty. Of course, make sure you save some time for the beach.
If farm-to-table dining is in its heyday, then Tasmania is at its epicenter; the island’s “strong tradition of small-scale production, organic farming and sustainability, along with rich soil, pure air and clean water inspire dedicated growers to produce a truly authentic food and drink experience.” Hobart has some of the greatest culinary offerings down under, most notably Frank – a South-American inspired establishment right on the historic Franklin Wharf. With stunning views of the Aussie waterfront and truly inspired dishes built from local produce, Frank serves a unique taste of today’s Tasmanian cuisine. Ethos serves a set menu every night Tuesday through Saturday, which executive Chef Iain Todd designs using local ingredients supplied daily. Originally built in 1820 as part of The Old Hobart Hotel, Ethos provides a gorgeous rustic setting to enjoy your carefully prepared meal. Jack Greene and Preachers are two late-night favorites among the local youth and party-goers.
If you want to know more about Australia’s history as a convict colony (who doesn’t?), make sure you take a trip to the Port Arthur Historic Site, an industrial prison within Tasmania’s dramatic natural setting that dates all the way back to 1948. The region’s geography – from rocky cliffs to rushing waters – provided the perfect entrapment for Britain’s excess criminals.