TRAVEL: Check out this food and art oasis
IF BEER, wine and cheese is your thing there is no need to sell your first-born for a flight to France. We have our own foodies' haven just a few hours' flight south of Brisbane. Hobart is a mecca of craft grog and locally produced food.
It is also a haven for artists thanks to gambler David Walsh, who poured millions of dollars into his creation, the Museum of Old and New Art. Here are a few of the many things to do in the Tasmanian capital.
Eat the food
Tasmania is so much more than the Apple Isle, though they sure know what to do with that fruit.
From fine-dining eateries to great pub grub, Hobart really does have something for every tastebud.
For the best chips in the country, head to Jack Greene on Salamanca Place. Once wharf warehouses, the row of sandstone buildings is now the heart of Hobart's entertainment district.
Sit among the sandstone, under a heat lamp in winter as the icy wind straight from Antarctica whips up, and tuck into the potato that is double-fried and finished with the chef's secret seasoning.
The bar also has a large number of craft beers to choose from, plus tasting paddles so drinkers can imbibe a few different Tasmanian brews. Jack Greene is just the start of the foodie mecca. Several eateries on Salamanca Place and in the wharf district serve amazing dishes that hero Tasmania produce like salmon, apples, potatoes and quality cuts of steak.
And be sure to visit the oldest operating brewery in the country, Cascade Brewery.
It took three trips to the Tasmanian capital before I visited the much-lauded and equally derided MONA.
I was scared the hype around the museum had overly heightened my expectations.
Opened in 2011, the museum has courted controversy for its take on what makes art, art.
When I visited last month, in the middle of the city's Dark MOFO festival, the museum made headlines for supporting Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch's performance in which a freshly slaughtered bull's entrails were used by performers during the art show.
My fears of the museum proved unfounded.
Walking down a spiralling staircase into the belly of the museum was like going down a rabbit hole.
From dinosaurs made from old cassettes, to an enlarged and bloated Porsche, to a machine that makes poo, to a wall of plaster cast vaginas, MONA pushes the boundaries on every level of its gallery.
I loved it. And better yet, there were no descriptions on the artwork. Instead, visitors are given a device with an app on it that tracks where they are in the gallery and what artworks are nearby.
Simply push on the photo of the artwork to learn more about the artist. Or be free to interpret the work without an explanation.
Take a walk into the past
Run your fingers along the grooves in sandstone, made from convicts' tools more than 150 years ago, at Battery Point.
Some of the grandest homes in Tasmania were built on this hill due to the ocean views and close proximity to the wharves, and remain there today.
Whale oil merchant Alexander McGregor transformed the original Lenna cottage on Runnymede St into a grand home that is now a hotel.
Drinking coffee in what I imagined was once the home's formal sitting room, watching rain fall through massive bay windows framed by blue velvet curtains, was a highlight of a previous trip.
Or check out Arthur's Circus, where working class families once resided. The cottages, crammed together like a semi-circle of wonky teeth, can now sell for more than $1 million each.