platypus spotting, spontaneous evenings and grassroots energy

Food

It used to be hard to even try to get a good coffee in Hobart, but these days there is a lively and interesting coffee culture. Bury Me Standing makes the most delicious bagels. The laundromat in Salamanca is also a favorite – it’s a combination laundromat and cafe, so you can enjoy one of their great muffins while you do your laundry.

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Kinoko Deli is perfect for a quick and convenient lunch: prepare Japanese bento boxes with many fresh salad options. (It’s a couple of doors down from Cracked and Spineless, so leave time for a post-lunch visit to Hobart’s best bookshop.)

It’s hard to get past the huge selection of ice cream flavors at waterfront Mures, but if you’re looking for something a little fancier, head to the Glass House for tasty saucers and river views.

On Sundays, Farm Gate Market is the place to be. I love the seasonal organic vegetables from the Hmong community and the street performers. One week you might see a contortionist (Samora Squid puts on a great show) and the next a five-piece jazz funk ensemble on the steps of the historic Playhouse Theatre.

The Farm Gate Market on Bathurst Street in Hobart takes place every Sunday from 8.30am to 1pm. Photograph: David Steele/Alamy

Inspiration

There are many exciting pockets of grassroots energy in Hobart’s cultural scene – some of the most engaging work takes place outside the best-known institutions.

For the visual arts, check out the events and exhibitions put on by artist-led ventures like Constance ARI and GoodGrief. Contemporary Art Tasmania is also a great place to see a cross-section of local artists.

There are some interesting events from a cinematic point of view as well. Rewind Cinema at Kickstart Arts in New Town is a celebration of films from the 80s and 90s, and while they may not have the most upscale screening equipment, it’s a genuine, passionate and welcoming cinephile space. The Simple Complex in North Hobart is a newer venue, with events including a monthly work in progress night for filmmakers. Wide Angle Tasmania is also great for local screenings and director talks.

Quarter

One of my favorite areas stretches from the western edge of the CBD to West and South Hobart where there is a concentration of interesting places to explore. If there are kids in your life, Lyrebird is a delightful Steiner-inspired toy store. Eumarrah is a whole food store that does some amazing raw foods – the carrot cake is a particular favorite.

Hamlet is also a nice cafe that runs on a social enterprise model. From there, you can walk along the creek to South Hobart. Even if you’re not lucky enough to spot the resident platypus, there’s some fantastic public art to interact with, and the trail takes you to the historic Female Factory site. I would particularly recommend a tour called The Proud and the Punished, a one-woman performance by Karissa Lane-Irons, which offers a powerful look into the tragic lives of women inmates in the colony.

Once you reach South Hobart, there’s a cluster of decent shops where you can wander around for a bargain, before grabbing a coffee at Ginger Brown or Bear With Me.

Green space

Hobart is surrounded by green spaces.

Mount Nelson and Knocklofty Reserve is well worth exploring. Even on The Domain you feel more out of town than you actually are, but honestly, it’s impossible to beat a little trip up Kunanyi/Mount Wellington.

It's impossible to beat a little trip up kunanyi/Mount Wellington.

It’s impossible to beat a little trip up kunanyi/Mount Wellington. Photograph: Paparwin Tanupatarachai/Getty Images

If you are not a keen walker, which I am not, you can drive to The Springs. If you look around you might spot the foundations of the Springs Hotel, which burned in the bushfires of 1967. Grab a coffee from the Lost Freight Cafe pop-up shipping container, and then take one of the shorter trails from there. Fern Tree Park, near the Fern Tree Tavern (another local favorite, where you’re likely to find live music and discussion events) is another major entry point into Wellington Park and a convenient point to start the walk.

For the more experienced walker, there are longer, more challenging trails: all the way to the summit, under the organ pipes and to the disappearing Tarn. It’s amazing to have such a spectacular mountain so close to the city with fantastic walks, forests, views and wildlife, but don’t underestimate it, especially in the winter. You can definitely get lost and the weather can change quickly.

A night landscape of Hobart.

The Hobart residents’ habit of not booking in advance makes it easy for visitors to have a spontaneous night out. Photograph: Andrew Merry/Getty Images

Nightlife

Tasmanians are notorious for not pre-booking events which is very stressful if you are a venue owner, but great if you are a visitor and want to introduce yourself and see what’s going on.

If I was having a spontaneous night out, I’d check online listings for the Grand Poobah, the Roof Garden, and maybe the Peacock Theatre. Pablo’s Cocktails is also an atmospheric little bar that often hosts live music.

Otherwise, there are plenty of places for a quiet drink. I would recommend the Society Salamanca gin tasting float if you want to try some unique Tasmanian gins, made with indigenous ingredients. Nearby is Preachers, which is a classic hangout – they have an old bus in the beer garden, a great place to relax and chat with strangers.

To remain

The art-filled Alabama Hotel (rooms starting at $100) is a real gem. Centrally located, with a quirky yet relaxed atmosphere. They offer boutique and budget rooms with shared but spotlessly clean bathrooms. There’s a cozy indoor guest lounge for cooler days, not uncommon in Hobart, and a plant-filled terrace bar, perfect for happy hour.

• Briony Kidd is a film and theater producer, event producer and creativity educator

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