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Beyond Dark Mofo

Beyond Dark Mofo

Eleven years, a world class museum and a few Lonely Planet articles after I left Tasmania, it couldn't be cooler.  As hoards of out-of-towners flock south for Dark Mofo, I'm sharing the bar recommendations, restaurant picks, road trip itineraries and patisserie suggestions normally contained within a tightly guarded Google doc and forwarded only upon special request. 

After all, it’s the queen’s birthday.

DARK MOFO: What to see

1. Asylum (Mike Parr) - Willow Court, New Norfolk
via Stefano Lubiano, 60 Rowbottoms Rd, Granton

New Norfolk is a half hour drive from Hobart along the Derwent, and at this time of year a thick fog hugs the river and the leafless poplar skeletons for most of the day.  As if this isn’t spooky enough, Australian performance artist Mike Parr installed himself in a former mental asylum in New Norfolk on Thursday for a 72 hour long drawing marathon.  While you’ve definitely missed this part, the installation of video, sound, photos, and objects inspired by his late brother’s struggle with mental illness makes up the remainder of the exhibition and is definitely worth the trip.  Admission is, naturally, by mirror donation.  A stop at the Stefano Lubiano vineyard on the way back to town should be utterly compulsory. 

2Dark Park – Macquarie Point
via Sush Track, 1 Franklin Wharf

MONA and the Hobart City Council poured five times more funding into Dark Park this year, and as such it’s bigger and better than ever – replete with hall of mirrors, street entertainer-filled labyrinth, and larger than life neon installations.  If the temperatures drop too low and the lines get too long, duck into the sushi train inside the old marine board building – it may be one of the ugliest buildings in Hobart, but the nigiri inside is some of the best.

3.  Winter Feast- PW1

Attendance at this communal banquet of flame grilled street foods with harbour views is free on the final night (Saturday 19 June) so it’s best to go on any other night to avoid the epic crowd this generates.  Out of towners will have read about the churros and salted caramel dipping sauce from the team behind best new Hobart restaurant Frank, the pulled pork from Mount Gnomon Farm, Nick Haddow’s famous Bruny Island Cheeses and Lady Hester’s cream-filled doughnuts - and none of these should be missed.  But one of the most underrated stalls is the Ashbolt Steaming Cocktails and Crumble Bar. The Ashbolts have been selling their elderflower concoctions at Hobart’s Salamanca markets for at least the last 20 years, and locals will be lining up for their elderberry / flower fizzy drinks and fruit crumbles.  Elbow your way in if you can.

4. Ogoh-Ogoh – The Burning
via The Glass House, Main Deck, Brooke Street Pier

What the annual procession from the Parliament Lawns to Dark Park lacks in distance it makes up for in noise and convivial pagan folly.  This year’s ogoh-ogoh is a weedy, sea dragon inspired totem made up of papers scrawled with the public’s handwritten fears and it will be burnt at the conclusion of the raucous march.  There’s nothing like a good old fashioned purge.  If the screeching children get too much, one can always retire to The Glas House - the bar at the end of that floating pier for a properly made cocktail and some Korean cured beef tartare. 

BEYOND MOFO: What to eat

At this time of year, the best thing to do in Tasmania is batten down and feast. 

1. Willing Brothers Wine Merchants
390 Elizabeth St, North Hobart

While every other mofo is getting their fill of $10 tasting plates by the water, you could be eating a perfect cassoulet and sinking some of the state’s best wine in one of the city's best no-nonsense bars: Willing Brothers in North Hobart.  This is a bar run by people who love wine, food and hospitality so much that any other way of life seems impossible.   You can feel it in every sip of your old fashioned.

 2. Templo
98 Patrick Street, Hobart

It opened at the end of last year and, despite some glowing reviews in magazines that matter, not many ‘mainlanders’ know about tiny, 20-seat Templo.  The food is Italianish and cooked by ex-Smolt chef Matt Breen, the menu is scrawled that morning and available all day, and, in a Hobart rarity, it’s open on Monday nights.  There are two sittings – locals know to pick the later one. 

3. Bangor Wine & Oyster Shed

Two families, famous on the peninsular for their wine and oysters respectively, joined forces just over a year ago to build a shed on the top of a hill in one of the Dunbabbin family’s paddocks.  Overlooking Marion and Norfolk Bays, the shed has since become an award-winning cellar door, restaurant and wedding venue.  While Bangor is famous for their pinot, their sparkling is some of the best in Tasmania - especially with a plate of the Grays' deep water oysters, which are some of the only in the state not to have been unaffected by POMS virus.

4. Jackman & McCross Bakery
57 Hampden Rd, Battery Point

There are few words to convey the perfection of this tiny sandstone bakery in Battery Point. Traditionally, this is my first pit stop after touching down at Hobart International Airport.  Whether it’s pear galette, chocolate brioche or buttery beef pie, these maestros can do no wrong.


 Images via The Examiner, Go Behind the Scenery, Urban Walkabout and Tailored Tasmania.