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.

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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?”