2015 in summary: the best.

Every year for the past few years now I’ve watched the end of the year roll around and everyone bemoan it as the worst year ever. I’ve joined in a couple of times, but my life has always been more swings and roundabouts. The last couple of years in particular have been strongly to that theme (2012 hit a crazy high peak when I partied my way out of Brisbane and moved to Hobart, the following couple of years were mixed with good pals and fun times vs broken ankles and call centres) but this year? This year’s come up trumps for me.

I had no idea what this year had in store for me as I came around the bend. I mean, I knew some things. Every year starts with the alcoholic celebration of Ginuary, so I can always confidently lock that away (it makes for a very busy January for me, actually) but 2015 started with friends and fireworks, flings and fancy foods. And then it got even better.

One of the things on my to-do list when I moved to Tasmania was to find a job I was passionate about and excited to do. I did struggle, when I first got here. It remained the only thing I hadn’t been able to tick off in my first two years here—it turns out that in Hobart, who you know will often get you places, and I moved here not knowing anybody. But then in January of this year, a little boutique budget hotel I’d been making heart eyes over since it opened advertised for a new staff member. I had style. I had flair. I was there. That’s how I became a member of Team Alabama. (But really, I submitted a cover letter intended to charm the socks off the manager and then I had an interview with her and then I was there.) February was chaotic as I saw out my notice at the call centre and started training at the Alabama in time to be flying solo behind the counter in March.

My favourite seat.

The view from reception.

I dropped back from full-time call centre work to my permanent part-time role at the Alabama quite happily, as it coincided with my friend Liv moving in for a few months. Seriously, the stars aligned and said, “Mem, you can survive switching from FT to PT for a couple of months because someone else is going to pay half the rent and utilities you’ve been paying on your own!” Honestly, without Liv moving in, I wouldn’t have felt confident doing that. And without Helen and my mum and a few other friends who demanded that I go for it, I wouldn’t have felt confident even applying for the job. Bless my invaluable support network.

After a couple of golden months of part time work and part time chill, I knew I wasn’t quite going to survive the rest of the time, and Liv wasn’t staying permanently, so the goal of obtaining a second job that I’d also enjoy was quickly becoming a priority (and a challenge). I applied for a few things here and there. I went to a couple of interviews where my heart clearly wasn’t in it and it showed. I’ve never been good at interviewing. But then MONA advertised roles for Dark Mofo, my favourite festival. I told Kel, my boss at the Alabama (and very quickly one of my new favourite people) that she should hopefully expect to have a reference check or two coming her way. She worked her special brand of magic, I interviewed for a Dark Mofo front of house role, and got not only that but the offer of some potential hours in MONA’s front of house team ongoing (and the potential quickly became actual).

Honestly, 2015—you’ve been infused with some kind of juju that I can’t just put down to timing, or luck, or effort.

Working Dark Mofo was a real treat. I fell hard for the festival the first year it was on, so hard that a group of friends from Brisbane came down to enjoy the second year of the festival with me. They came down this year as well (much to my absolute delight) but balancing working at the festival with spending time with pals meant that I was pretty exhausted. That’s actually been the biggest challenge of the second half of the year for me—balancing my work life, my social life and downtime has been a struggle that I think I’m only just now getting the hang of, and allocating enough time for friends and family who visit from interstate is probably my biggest challenge. I keep forgetting how crucial that time with those folks is, and then I feel awful about not spending as much time with them as I possibly can. To Jordan, the feast team, mama, the Perringtons and Fatboy: I’m sorry. I love you. I’ll do better. Welcome to the new years resolution I literally just worked out as I was typing!

Feast Team 2015.

Feast Team 2015.

Back to Dark Mofo. The festival was full of running around, stuffing our faces with winter feast food, resetting a hundred mice numerous times only to watch them explode all over the stage to a rapt and awed audience response (and establishing working relationships with my first MONA staff pals through the mice), playing in light beams and holding precious Piccinini babies. Once the festival was over, I stayed in the front of house team, working casually and fitting my availability around my regular Alabama shifts. For a couple of months after Dark Mofo, I kept working at Detached’s The Shadows Calling exhibition featuring Patricia Piccinini and Peter Hennessey works, growing more attached to the weird furry baby (officially known as the Offering) and the other staff working at the exhibition. Most of us started with Dark Mofo so we had our own little Detached crew, nice to have when you start working in a team of over a hundred people!

MY BABY / The Offering, part of The Shadows Calling.

MY BABY / The Offering, part of The Shadows Calling.

I’ve gotten to know a lot of my MONA teammates over the last six months and so my circle of friends in Hobart (and my Facebook friends list) is steadily expanding. Being an extrovert, this is such a good thing for me, and has certainly added to 2015’s list of many, many positives! From regular pizza dates (holla Local Pizza you my soul pizza) to gallery openings (plug for Visual Bulk) to staff parties (let’s not talk about that one) to serving MONA coworkers drinks at the Alabama, I’m feeling nothing but good vibes.

I had a couple of enforced breaks during the year, the first to Melbourne in April (driven by tickets to see Noel Fielding, enhanced by catching up with mobs of pals, getting my nails did all fancy at Blonde Tiger, eating amazing foods at places like the Town Mouse and Bomba (just to name a couple), and riding trams). In August, I booked a lil solo holiday up at Cradle Mountain, which happened to fall the day after a huge amount of snow did. The break was perfectly timed, as I’d been working myself a little too hard prior to it. I finally ticked the Dove Lake circuit off my to-do list (distressingly beautiful in the snow), and I finally got to properly walk in some big ol’ fresh snow (after missing out on that experience while in Quebec for Christmas 2013 with a broken ankle). White winter holiday of my heart!

May have cried driving through this.

May have cried driving through this.

I did some other fun things this year, too. I went to Panama festival with Helen and Kelsey. I spoke on stage, accompanied by other wonderful people telling their own amazing stories, in front of a bunch of people at the Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival, and my story was broadcast on the radio. I was on the radio a bunch, actually—I’ve learnt that this is just part and parcel of having friends who are radio presenters, but still fun. On the radio I’ve talked about Ginuary, my broken ankle, helping my friend make a music video in beautiful Tassie. I’ve enjoyed Tassie. One night in the middle of winter I went and played in the sea sparkles down at South Arm with Holly, and I won’t forget that hour of giggling any time soon.

My year’s ended exceptionally, too. My sister came down from Sydney to spend her holidays with me (despite me working through most of them, see a couple of paragraphs up for my apology) and thanks to her to-do list I’ve done a couple of things myself in Tasmania I hadn’t yet done. I guess this included hosting my first orphan Christmas (I sent a text message to my mum saying WHY DID YOU NEVER TELL US HOW MUCH CHRISTMAS FOOD COSTS but it was worth it for fond memories, happy faces and leftovers). On the Sunday after Christmas, I drove my sister and I up the east coast to Freycinet National Park, where we did the hike up the mountain/stairs to Wineglass Bay’s lookout. I wouldn’t actually recommend doing this trip in one day, it’s a lot of driving… we were knackered but we survived! Just yesterday we started the day with some zebra feeding at ZooDoo, another place I hadn’t been before. The day prior to that I missed out on what appeared to be an absolutely brilliant day of adventuring around the Tasman Peninsula and swimming with seals, but I didn’t put my hand up for it (I regret this!) and so my sister went on a day I was working. See again my new years resolution for 2016, but at the same time, I gotta earn da moneys in order to do da things…

Tonight, as per Hobart tradition, we are headed up to the Eyrie for drinking, board games and a stellar view of the fireworks. I’ll be surrounded by some of my favourite people, reflecting on the year that was and smiling the whole time. To everyone who has helped this year be my best year ever—whether you know it or not! If we spent time together this year, you absolutely did—thank you. See you real soon, or a little later, but definitely sometime.

Peace out, 2015. You’ll be a very hard one to beat. <3

Hobart Hype: Coffee, part 1.

Oh, dear. I’ve got a lot of strong feelings about coffee. Don’t you? Doesn’t everyone? Aren’t these strong coffee feelings subjective? Yes and no (mostly yes), but this is my blog and I never said anything about objectivity. I’m probably going to do more than one post about coffee and Hobart because I can’t limit these feelings to one of each. I just can’t.

Just right: Villino & Ecru Coffee.

Jaime Lannister has it wrong about a few things but he’s bang on the money when it comes to coffee. Ok, his actor is bang on the money. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was spotted at Villino around a year ago when he was holidaying in Tasmania (what a legend) and I just found this article about that event that features a hilarious quote from me, noice.

Villino was on my radar when I moved down here and it’s stayed on my radar since becoming a local. I don’t frequent it, but I know that if I ever stop by, my coffee’s always going to be excellent. Villino roast their own, and have takeaway beans available for home drinkers too.

To be perfectly honest, I visit Villino’s little takeaway brother Ecru (a couple of doors down) a lot more, because Villino’s often a little TOO cosy inside (small shop, many people!). I was a semi-regular at Ecru for a while, thanks to their prepaid coffee application and my running late and not having time to make myself a coffee before work. I could load up Rewardle, order my coffee, jump on my bike and a few minutes later have a delicious takeaway in my hands. As well as the prepaid feature, Ecru give you a free coffee every ten coffees through Rewardle. Nice! The only trick is making sure you’ve got some prepaid credit already sorted at Ecru, because there’s no preordering if you’re at $0.

Ecru’s also open on Sundays now thanks to the Farm Gate Market having relocated to the end of Criterion St. I love the market but I love Ecru’s coffee more. Wait… their Facebook page says closed Sundays… maybe it’s just during warmer months? Rats. Quit playing games with my heart, guys.

Anyway, long story short—these guys have got the goods.

Overhyped: Doctor Coffee.

Call the doctor, this coffee is burning my fingers. Why does the Doctor’s coffee take so damn long to brew? Why does everybody rave about it? Does anybody actually rave about it or do I just think that they do? The Doctor is my very last resort for takeaway coffee, one rung above McCafe. I will only go to the Doctor if forced. They’re open most public holidays when nowhere else is, and I guess their Sandy Bay cafe (the newest of the chain) is ok (the wallpaper is so great and the staff are nice and the coffee doesn’t seem to take a million years to make like it does at Salamanca), but after getting burned one too many times (figuratively and literally?) at Salamanca, the Doctor leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If you’re around Salamanca, there are way better options. See below, for example.

Underhyped: Zimmah Coffee & Parklane Espresso.

Zimmah beans are my jam. A friend first put me onto Zimmah via Yelp review and I was in for a penny, in for a pound… of coffee beans. I’ve watched the Zimmah space evolve from coffee dungeon (when it was pretty much just a bench space in a garage) to cosy hangout space (with pillars of books!), and while I do wish they’d start doing breakfasts (because they’re a stone’s throw from my place), I’ll take what I can get and if I’m just feeling like drinking a bunch of coffees and writing the next great novel, Zimmah is the perfect place to do that.

Dane entertains my coffee fussiness for both takeaways (flat white, milk around 60°C ie not too damn hot) and beans (filter, light and sweet, floral notes best). I’ve even sweet-talked my way into a home delivery of beans once, which was definitely above and beyond. Zimmah does a handful of regular blends, all with amazing label designs and fun names—my favourites are the two lighter blends, the Artful Dodger and Dutch Courage, because they work the best in my Aeropress at home.

Parklane gets a shoutout in here because they use Zimmah beans and they’re a trustworthy and delicious coffee haven in the middle of Salamanca (hidden in a corner of Salamanca Square), particularly on Saturday mornings when the market’s on. So many awful coffee vendors at the market. So many poor tourists. If only they knew…! The Parklane guys are lovely, their coffee prices aren’t ridiculous, they’re quick with their pours, and they even have a “perfect” size. I feel like a smug jerk every time I order a perfect flat white. Sorry, not sorry.

  

So, what do you reckon? As with all reviews, these opinions are subjective, so your mileage may vary. I just really like talking about food (and coffee).

Hobart Hype: Breakfast.

I was going to write this post almost a year ago. What’s up with procrastinating from doing something you actually enjoy doing? ANYWAY, here’s part two of the Hobart Hype post series I tried to light a fire under myself with last year. I really love having opinions on things. (I said this in passing to my boss the other day and she casually replied with, “Yes, you do.”)

Just Right: Machine Laundry Cafe.

Known as “Machine” to the locals, it may be stuck in a corner of Salamanca AKA Tourist Central but dang, these guys have got it going on. The coffee is solid (it won’t blow your mind but it won’t break your heart), the breakfast menu goes all day (perfect for the afternoon risers, guilty as charged), and the menu items are a decent mix of classics and more interesting options.

I like to drop into Machine at least once every six months—I’m not a rabid regular. The menu doesn’t change. It just doesn’t. There are a couple of specials every day but I don’t think I’ve ever ordered one. I’ve had the fat boy, the pulled pork sanga, the new old egg dish… they’re probably my top three picks, actually. If you’re a fan of bowls of coffee, they’re on the menu here.

The morning sun can tend to blind half the table if you’re sitting outside, but then again, sitting outside in the morning sun in the middle of winter can be delightful. Because Machine’s in the square, it’s shielded from most of the winds that can rip through town. And you’re right next to a giant chess board if you fancy a round or two before or after your meal.

Thom's Thing @ Machine Laundry Cafe.

Thom’s Thing @ Machine Laundry Cafe.

Overhyped: Pigeon Hole.

This might be the sole reason I decided to start doing these posts. If I see one more mainlander recommend this place to their mainland friends planning a trip to Hobart, I might scream. No, I’ll most likely scream. Who am I kidding? I’ve already screamed over this. I’m screaming right now. Why? Pigeon Hole is fine. It’s fine. I was never overwhelmed with it, myself. The meals are too small and dainty and expensive for what they are, but it’s not bad. It’s just not worth raving over, and the business has changed hands since people first decided to start raving about it, too.

Do you know what’s worth raving over about Pigeon Hole? The bread. Do you know where you can get the bread and many other delicious baked goods now? Pigeon Whole Bakery. Please choose to rave over them instead. Go crazy over their sweet baked goods. Push an entire Pigeon Whole brioche bun into your face, even if it’s got nothing on it. If you’re around Hobart at Easter, do whatever you can to secure yourself some Pigeon Whole Bakery hot cross buns. I don’t even like hot cross buns but I will religiously (ahaha) get a half-dozen of these for the long weekend and I love them. Plus, just the other day my boss told me that they’re now doing banh mi for lunches. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

Underhyped: Raspberry Fool.

Ah, this is awkward. The cafe I was determinedly going to write about in this space almost a year ago has lost my interest. I loved them fiercely, quite honestly, but then they had a kitchen fire and were closed for a few weeks and when they reopened it was with a new menu that was less breakfast-flavoured and somehow undefinably less Mem-flavoured and I went right off them.

Is my finger on the pulse enough to say that there should be more hype for Straight Up? What about Ginger Brown? Or Room for a Pony? I feel like locals, at least, will scoff at my saying Ginger Brown deserves more hype, because the place is consistently busy and most tables will have little reserved signs on any given day of the week—but interstate visitors ain’t got a clue. Ok, maybe we want to keep it that way. I’ll move on.

WAIT, I’VE GOT IT! EVERYBODY HOLD YOUR HORSES! EVERYBODY REDIRECT YOUR HORSES TO RASPBERRY FOOL! This place is so underhyped that I regularly forget about it, which is a travesty, because every time I have been there I have had the most delicious meal, served by the friendliest staff. I’m not even kidding. The first time I went there I had a baked egg dish that blew me away. I don’t even really like egg dishes or tend to go for them if there are appealing enough non-egg dishes, but this was just… it was heaven in a dish. I believe in a Yelp review I went so far as to call it my Hobart Breakfast dish, as up until that morning I hadn’t really found a brekky joint that truly rocked my boat.

Baked eggs @ Raspberry Fool.

Baked eggs @ Raspberry Fool.

There are a couple of cons (mothers always say your flaws are what make you beautiful though, right?), which really just concern the space: it’s a weeny place with not a lot of seating and the floors always make me think “bathroom”. But the pros list is a lot longer. I’ve already covered a lot, but let’s add to that good coffee, open seven days a week (!!!), and a good Facebook presence with lots of tempting photos. I love that Raspberry Fool’s description on FB opens with “A cuddle from mum – yep we serve comfort food”. <3 Comfort food is just what this is, and more people should know it.

So, what do you reckon? As with all reviews, these opinions are subjective, so your mileage may vary. I just really like talking about food.

Hobart Hype: Burgers.

As the second Dark Mofo raged through town earlier this month, I saw plenty of people passing on travel tips to others.

“Oh, you’re going to Hobart? Don’t miss X! Make sure you get along to Y! And bring me back something from Z!”

Some of the recommendations I heartily agreed with, others I shook my head over. And furthermore, I wondered how more continued to fly under the radar. It’s true that sometimes I like having favourite spots to myself, but for business’ sake I wish more for them.

Plus I needed something to blog about.

So I present Hypebart: each month I’ll (try to) throw light on stuff around town from a local’s perspective (and subjective opinion, of course). Throw light and maybe throw a little shade, depending on how I’m feeling. Sound like fun? Let’s go.

This month I’m in a burger mood.

Just Right: The Standard.

This little alleyway burger nook in the middle of the CBD has only been open for six months but has already won the hearts and stomachs of locals and tourists alike (the ones that are cluey enough to go looking for it, that is).

It’s true that there could be more seating (and warmer seating, in winter) and the fries have been causing some local polarisation (I LOVE them, I know others HATE them) but dang, those burgers. I wouldn’t use the phrase “Huxtaburger of Hobart” lightly, but that’s exactly how I feel. Great size, great fillings, exciting combos, a secret menu, and A+ price. I’m hooked and so should you be, too.

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Overhyped: Jack Greene / Burger Got Soul / Burger Haus

This is cheating a little bit, for me to make this claim. I’ve eaten more than one burger at both BGS and BH but I have to admit that I’ve yet to get my burg on at JG. And yet… a “gourmet burger” is a “gourmet burger” is a “gourmet burger” and while there may not be a Grill’d in Tasmania, we don’t need one, because we’ve got all these guys who do exactly the same thing. Big burgers with funny names full of ample ingredients that explode everywhere, big thick-cut chips on the side which are delicious but you can barely fit them in if you want to finish the burger too.

I was excited about these types of burgers seven years ago or so when Grill’d first opened in Melbourne but it’s a far too oversaturated market these days and hard to stand out. Which is part of the reason I’ve lumped all three of the above venues together. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the same place but just in Salamanca, Sandy Bay and North Hobart.

Underhyped: The Winston.

It’s true that the beer list at the Winston is legendary. But not nearly enough people are talking about the Winston’s cheeseburger, which in my mind is equally legendary.

LEGENDARY.

It’s true they went off the rails a little with those dusty buns (don’t get me started on how much I hate flour-dusted buns, WHAT PURPOSE DO THEY SERVE? EXCEPT TO COVER ME IN FLOUR? WHY WOULD I EVER WANT THAT? Sorry I guess I got myself started) but things have been back on track lately. Straight down the line: a meat patty, cheese, sweet sliced pickles and sauce. Done. Welcome to a perfect dirty burger, in my opinion.

Occasionally the meat patty is cooked right the way through, and sure that’s good and all and what we’re used to as Strayans but as a recent convert to the “slightly rare burger patty” party, I’ve gotta say, my favourite Winston cheeseburgers are the ones that have that slight streak of pink in the middle of the patty.

I can’t tell you much about the rest of the menu here as it’s rare for me to sway from my regular order of a cheeseburger and a pint. I’ll admit that the couple of times I’ve ordered other burgers here, I’ve been disappointed. But it’s also true that the most recent time I ate at the Winston, I had a clam chowder and it was SENSATIONAL. Which is actually a bit upsetting for me because my heart tells me all I should ever eat there are cheeseburgers.

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So, what do you reckon? As I’ve already said, these opinions are subjective, so your mileage may vary. I just really like talking about food.

Living in a post-Ginuary world.

I didn’t have any time or energy to blog here last month because everything was funnelled into my favourite ridiculous project, Ginuary.This was the second year I’ve done the challenge to the best of my ability, and the challenge (as set by me) was to have gin a different way every day. I’ve had gin sixty different ways now. Most of them have been cocktails, most of which I’ve made at home, but I also used it as a good excuse this year to scope out some potential drinking venues in Hobart.

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Damnit, this post just got larger than I intended it to. I was just going to apologise for my absence in Ginuary and attach the finale photo above but now I’m going to mention all the places I drank in Hobart last month.

The Taste Festival

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Dude’s face, bottom right.

Hobart’s annual festival that takes over the waterfront for a week or so over the new year. Like a couple of other things in Hobart, it’s a little overexaggerated—the Taste is just a giant food hall. But if you’re prepared for that, it’s awesome. I had some issues sourcing gin, which was disheartening, but there was a happy ending to the story, so PHEW.

The Abbey Tavern & Preachers

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WALL OF COMICS

Preachers and the Abbey are awesome spots for beer and cider. Amazing selections, whether you’re looking for a Tassie beverage, or an Aussie one, or even some internationals. Unfortunately last month I was on a gin hunt, and these two places (owned and run by the same team) are not the places to go for spirits. Preachers only does basics, with a fairly heinous selection of brands (pretty much one of each spirit, nothing top shelf). The Abbey has a “cocktails” board, but it’s strongly influenced by the tragic cocktail lists of the 90s. So, the moral of the story is, definitely go to these places if you want to drink beer and/or cider.

Nant Whisky Cellar & Bar

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I feel like hunting some deer, Charles.

Cool small space, but not decked out as I’d expected at all. Very light and airy, with olive greens and golds… I suppose I was expecting more of a speakeasy vibe, darker and bedecked in crimson and dark wood. I’m still looking for that place. Nant is fairly classic if you like whisky. You can get whisky, whisky, or whisky cocktails, of which the list is full of old-school classics, so two thumbs up from me for that.

Grape Bar & Bottleshop / Grape Food & Wine

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Locals on tap!

I think Grape have either just recently decided to alter their name or they tried a while ago and it didn’t really stick. Anyone know? In any case, GRAPE (whatever the rest may be) is a buzzing hive in the middle of Salamanca Place. There’s definitely a strong focus on their wine cellar here, so get into a bottle or two. Grape’s bartender the evening I went in for Ginuary was a surprise delight, making up something on the spot for me, so I’ll definitely be back to Grape to test his cocktail skills out again!

Tavern 42 Degrees South (T42)

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Long bar is long.

I wasn’t keen on going to T42, for some reason. I think my brain associated it with 42Below Vodka, and I don’t really care for vodka, and last month was all about gin. Turns out there’s a gin fan behind the bar at T42 and they have a fairly awesome selection of gins on the shelves. There’s a short but sweet cocktail menu with enough of a tempting selection to make me want to go back again, and the design of the place is pretty cool. I want to go back again soon to spend some time in Tug Bar, just next door (part of T42 but with its own separate bar). It’s a specialist rum bar, so I think they’ve missed the boat there, but the decor is excellent.

The Mill on Morrison

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More of a restaurant.

It’s a pity that not more of the Mill’s space is given to the bar, because the current bar manager is pretty passionate about cocktails, running a fairly impressive menu and doing some really cool stuff with infused spirits. I felt pretty weird walking past all the restaurant-set tables just to get a drink at the bar. Was I sitting in the wrong area? Is there more to the Mill than the main restaurant section? I saw a hint of something looking vaguely courtyard-y as I was on my way out…

The Lark Distillery

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Good choice for a local.

The utter disappointment I felt when I first visited the Lark on a holiday to Tasmania in 2011 has stuck with me, but only in that every time I go to Lark these days I have to giggle. Similar to my feelings about Nant, after spending a bit of time gazing at Lark’s website prior to my trip I was expecting something lush and dark. Instead my friend and I walked in on a Friday night to a rollicking live country band, plastic-covered tables with stackable plastic chairs, and a very local feel. If you go in expecting that then Lark is bloody good stuff. Just don’t expect any fancy shit. Bonus: Lark goes off on a Friday night, go grab a burger from Stu.

Void Bar @ MONA

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The museum can really take it out of you.

It’s become tradition for me to hit up the Void Bar on the bottom floor of the Museum of Old and New Art for a strong cocktail before I face the antiquities on that floor. I love Void, and I love Void’s gorgeous cocktail menu, but twice now (in a row) the drink I’ve asked for (a different one each visit) has been unavailable due to one or more ingredients being unavailable. Sorry, but if you have a menu, at least make all the menu items a constant possibility. Otherwise try a different menu attack, okay? (The drinks I have had there were very nice, but I hate disappointment.)

The 21st Amendment @ MONA Market

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Best. Market stall. EVER.

I pretty much lost my mind with glee when I showed up to MONA’s first summer Saturday market to find that one of this summer’s stalls was a gin bar. Rose, the stall owner, and I are now on a first-name basis. I only wish the 21st Amendment was a permanent fixture in some classy little space in the city, but at this stage I’m just going to have to live for Saturdays at MONA. The market’s well worth a lunch visit, too.

IXL Long Bar

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Absolute class.

My Ginuary finale was held at this classy bar attached to the Henry Jones Art Hotel. I planned to finish the month here anyway, but the night before I rustled together a small crew of friends to join me in toasting the end of my second liver-bashing event. It’s not that literally long, to be honest, but on a Friday afternoon with the live pianist tinkering away and a delicious dry martini in hand, IXL Long Bar is my new high.
 
I may do another post in the future to cover more drinking holes like the New Sydney Hotel, the Pumphouse, and Sidecar… but I will forever chase a decent shaken-or-stirred. Is there anywhere else to get a classy cocktail in Hobart? I’m willing to listen!

Farm Gate Market and the Night Owl.

The Farm Gate market was on my to-do list before I got down here, for a few reasons. I wanted to stop buying so much from the Big Guys and try to get fresh things from the Little Guys, and the best way to do that seems to be at the farmers markets, where you can get the Little Guys’ fresh things from the Little Guys themselves. Also, who doesn’t love a market?

On my first Sunday here, my mum and I walked down to the corner of Elizabeth and Melville streets with our canvas shopping bags in hand. There was a slight issue with the plan in that without my things from Brisbane, my kitchen is currently very empty, so there’s not much to actually cook with. We ended up getting some delicious fresh dips, some honey (for my tea), and incredible sausage rolls for breakfast from the Urban Bounty stall.

I’ve been back each Sunday since, and this Sunday just gone was actually Farm Gate Market’s third birthday! Woo! Happy birthday, Market! What a beautiful day for it, too. My first market was overcast, my second market was smattered with rain, but my third market (and their third birthday) was a beautiful cool and sunny day.

Hobart's Farm Gate Markets

Madi rings the bell, Urban Bounty sells the sausage rolls.

One of my favourite things about Farm Gate is that it doesn’t officially kick off until 9am, when the bell is rung (top right photo!). You can still get a sneaky coffee from the Farm Gate stall, and it’s a very good coffee at that, but the rest of the stalls will still be setting up and be grumpy if you try to buy their things. Look, just enjoy your Sunday sleep-in and get there after 9am and you won’t have any problems.

So what you want to do next is get a sausage roll from Urban Bounty’s stall for breakfast, because the free-range pork, quince and apple sausage roll is one of the better things about my current life, and with UB’s own tomato relish, too? Just kill me, I’ve reached the pinnacle. There’s nothing much better than sitting down and scoffing my sausage roll and coffee before attacking the market stalls.

Farm Gate Markets

Farm Gate Market’s 3rd Birthday!

This dude in an apple suit was walking around on Sunday and cracking me up. I don’t know if it was a special birthday treat, because I’ve not seen ol’ apple suit before, but maybe that’s just been my timing. There are always some buskers at the market, here and there dotted around corners, but this Sunday’s were particularly good. It was so nice sitting down and enjoying a coffee and listening to some smooth jazz, baby.

I also had the pleasure of meeting another new friend! When I first got here, I looked through twitter to find some charming locals to follow. One of those charming locals was Snuva! She, her husband and their ridiculously cute baby have a standing Sunday breakfast date at the markets, so we arranged to meet up on Sunday to say hello in person. It was lovely to meet them and yet again I forgot to take any photos. I swear these people I’m meeting are real.

The final photo in the little collection above is a lovely segue into my other topic for this post, because I just so happened to ride my shiny new bicycle down to the markets on Sunday (where it was closely guarded by some gorgeous puppies). It was my first proper ride, apart from the short and terrifying ride home on it when I picked it up on Friday. You know the phrase, “it’s just like riding a bike”? It’s true. I hadn’t ridden a bike in years, and I was VERY nervous when I realised I’d actually have to ride my bike home! I ended up walking it a few blocks away from the shop (and the CBD) before hopping on and wobbling for a block or so before getting wigged out and walking it for another block or so, lather/rinse/repeat. Oh, Friday. You were such a weird day.

THE NIGHT OWL.

The Electra Night Owl. Ridiculous. I am delighted.

SUNDAY, though… Sunday was awesome. Look at this ridiculous bike. I spent a good couple of days tossing up whether to get a plain cruiser or this Electra fashion cruiser. I was concerned that maybe in a couple of years I’ll get sick of the design, or grow out of the owl print, or whatever. Clearly, in the end I got over those concerns, and I think that’s probably fair. I’m a bit twee, I think this bike and I are going to be very happy together.

I got the bike from Bike Ride on Liverpool street. They didn’t have any Electras in stock, but I’d been sent Bike Ride’s way after spotting one in the window of a store a couple of blocks away, and Mark was happy to take the time to go through Electra’s catalogue with me and answer all my stupid questions. The service was awesome enough for me to leave a glowing five-star review on Yelp.

So on Sunday I rode the Night Owl down to the Farm Gate Market and home again, with a basket laden with goodies, and as I pulled up in the driveway, I thought, my life is a bit wonderful right now.

Sunday morning bliss.

Am I right?

#7: Hobart.

With some fairly wonderful timing, Lonely Planet has just released their 2013 list of top cities to visit in the world, and guess what? Hobart’s at number seven. Yes, okay, so I’m not just visiting here, I moved here—but it may be further incentive to put my guest room to good use.

Ever the hipster, I visited Hobart (and numerous other parts of Tasmania) in 2011, so whatever. (Just joking about the ‘whatever’.) I don’t find it a huge surprise for Lonely Planet pointing the finger at Hobart (and no other city in Australia in 2013). I had a fair idea there was something special going on down here, and I wanted to be a part of it.

A large part of Hobart’s ranking has been attributed to MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art) and TMAG (the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery), and their current collaborative exhibition, “Theatre of the World“, at MONA until April 2013. TMAG itself is closing for a couple of months as of November, and I have to admit I haven’t been there yet, but I can vouch for MONA. I’m not really an art gallery person. I don’t have the attention span for wandering around quiet spaces and I hate not being able to photograph things. MONA isn’t a traditional art gallery, though…

Fran and I out the front of MONA last year, our second visit in ten days.

Fran and I out the front of MONA last year, our second visit in ten days.

No joke, we had a spare day at the end of our motorhome adventure and both of us voted for a return to MONA. MONA wasn’t solely what made me want to come to Tasmania (either to visit or live), but it was certainly a bonus. There’s also a lot of culinary goodness to be had down here, as well as beautiful architecture and scenery, and a heckload of markets.

I’ve already seen a few locals make comments about not finding Hobart worthy. Someone said something like, “I would much rather visit Paris than Hobart”. I think the important thing to note is that Lonely Planet’s list is an annual list. Every year there are ten cities on it. I haven’t looked at previous years, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want to just list the same ten cities every year. Yes, I want to go to Paris, but has it done anything lately to make it worthy of a visit in 2013? Amsterdam is on the list for 2013 because there are a bunch of anniversary celebrations going on that is going to make it one big celebration for the whole year. Heck yes, I wanna visit there! (And maybe stay on Ben and Miranda’s couch.) It’s also sad to hear that some locals aren’t keen to give their city big reps. The impression I got from my visit to Tasmania last year was that Tasmanians were so proud of being Tasmanians. I suppose there will always be differing opinions…

I am so proud of Hobart for making Lonely Planet’s 2013 list and I am so excited to have friends and family come for a visit to see this amazing corner of the world. Oh, Hobart! Well done, you!

Answering the question.

Oh, right. Why Tasmania? I guess I didn’t actually mention that in my first post, even after giving it that title. I’ll explain my reasons—there are a lot of them, and some have more weight than others, but they’re all important enough to mention.

I think it’s probably a good idea to have a lot of reasons, or at least a couple of pretty big reasons, before you do something huge like move to the other end of the country, away from all your friends and basically the entire life you’ve known. I’m a couple of months shy of turning 29 (I’m not afraid so don’t sass me) and up until a week ago, I’d only ever lived in Queensland. A born and bred northerner, I was born in Emerald (don’t remember that bit), spent a couple of years in Longreach (don’t remember those), went from there to Browns Plains (memory kicks in around here), to Beaudesert, to Rockhampton, back to Beaudesert, and then into Brisbane not long after I turned 18. I’ve spent the last ten years jumping around the suburbs of Brisbane, with a number of interstate travels for work and play, and a couple of big play trips overseas, but nothing permanent. Because change is scary.

But sometimes scary is good.

It had probably been building subconsciously for a while, but I still remember the moment I thought, “I’m going to move to Hobart”. From that moment, it was a done deal. I’d been to Tasmania in the winter of 2011 for a holiday, but even back then, my friend and I declared that Tasmania would be somewhere perfect to retire. It wasn’t until that moment earlier this year that I realised I didn’t need to wait until retirement; Tasmania was perfect for me right now.

And with that… here are my answers to “Why Tasmania?”.

TL;DR — AKA click here to read the rest.

Why Tasmania?

I’ve heard this question so many times in the last two months. Has it really only been a little more than two months since I announced my intention to move from Brisbane, Queensland to Hobart, Tasmania for no better reason than “why not”?

Looking back, I should have started this blog back then, but to be honest it took a while to sink in that it was really happening—that I was really moving. I couldn’t tell you the exact moment, though a few spring to mind.

  • The moment I handed over the keys of my lovely rental house in West End to my dear friend and newly ex-housemate a couple of weeks ago?
  • The night before I set off on my roadtrip down to Tasmania, when my mum and I were finished playing life-object tetris to fit everything in my car?
  • About halfway into twenty-three hours of driving in three days, listening to the mix CD my friend Liz made for me, with every second song being a farewell track that made me tear up?
  • Driving down the Midland Highway from Devonport to go pick up the keys to my (fingers crossed) adorable new rental property, a place for me to call home in Hobart?
  • The moment I looked out the window of said rental property and saw Hobart in front of me, just outside?

All these moments played a part in me acknowledging that it’s real. This has happened. This is happening still! That’s the truth to it; this is happening still. I have been here a week today (happy weekiversary, Hobart) and even this afternoon as I drove out to New Norfolk, I had a moment of confusion where I knew I was driving my car, and I knew I was driving through a beautiful stretch of scenery, but I couldn’t get those two dots to connect. I was driving MY car in TASMANIA? But HOW? Oh, yeah…

I decided to start this blog for a couple of reasons. One of them is that I don’t have any friends in Hobart (yet? Please let the full statement end in “yet”) and writing blog posts may be a more sensible time-waster than online shopping (have I mentioned I’m currently funemployed? That money’s gotta run out someday—later rather than sooner would be nice) or just staring at the internet/my computer screen.

The other reason is so that the next time somebody asks me, “Why Tasmania?” I can reply with, “Why don’t you check out my blog?”