Despite the fact that three quarters of our group stubbornly insists they’re not morning people, everyone is up early and quite enthusiastic about it this morning. Really? You may ask. Why yes, I say, because today we’re going for a pre-dawn drive up to Mt. Wellington for sunrise and following it up with a trip to the famous Salamanca Markets in Hobart.
We sadly get lost on the way to the lookout for Mt Wellington (apparently, just Google Maps-ing “Mt Wellington” isn’t the best way to go about things), but despite our rather odd choice in lookout point (i.e. randomly off the side of the road), the sunrise is still spectacular.
Beautiful as the sunrise is, however, with the air outside freezing and our bellies starting to rumble, we’re all feeling very ready indeed to get back to Hobart and get some breakfast (and some coffee, this chauffeur business requires much more caffeine than the whopping zero cups of coffee I have in my system right now…). It takes a grueling fifteen minutes to get from the top of the mountain back to the booming metropolis that is downtown Hobart and so, in no time, Carl is happily parked in a parking garage near our hostel and the four of us are off to the markets.
I’m all about farmer’s markets: they’re more sustainable, they support local businesspeople and local farmers, and they tend to have delicious food. That said, I was completely unprepared for the kind of heaven I was walking into when we decided to come here this morning…one step into the market, though, and I can tell I’m in paradise.
I start off by getting a much needed coffee while the others go search for tea. Because I have a pretty intense caffeine-withdrawal headache coming on (yeah, yeah, I know, I know…I have a problem), I choose the first coffee-serving trailer I find.
Quite frankly I think it’s the best coffee I’ve ever had.
For one thing, it’s just delicious. For another, it’s fair trade, sustainable, and 100% carbon neutral (Like, what?! I didn’t even know carbon neutral foodstuffs were a thing! THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE COFFEE EVER)! Finally, the cup is absolutely gorgeous (and biodegradable!). Sounds weird, I know, but seriously…take a look at this cup art…
Coffee in hand, I wind my way through the hordes of Hobartians to find Liz, Katrina, and Kirsten and am immersed in a wonderland of stalls and tents hosted by bellowing farmers (“Apples! Apples for $2 a kilo, GET your apples here!” “Fresh bread, fresh meat cakes, c’mon folks stop on by..!”). It’s like a market from the forties, complete with men in suspenders and flat caps, and I’m obsessed with it.
I track down the others and we make our way up and down the long rows of tents in search of breakfast. In the end, though, we wind up getting much more than that. We sample everything — peanut butter, fudge, jams, spreads, honey — and buy a few things, too. I spot an Australian merino wool tent and, won over by their three for $20 deal, excitedly buy a pack of brightly colored wool hiking socks. The pricing pretty much blows my mind…I can’t stop talking about it for the rest of the time at the market (“Three pairs of wool hiking socks! For only twenty dollars!! That’s unreal!! Wow I’m so excited about these socks.”). Liz buys some homemade banana bread and fruit leather, and we all eventually grab some breakfast. Feeling a desire to be authentic, I get a wallaby meat pie and, sure enough, it’s phenomenal. Liz and Kirsten get some gourmet sausages and Katrina gets a burrito from a cute little burrito stand positioned conveniently next to a pair of hip-hop dancers who are racking up tips (and applause) from the crowd waiting for their food.
After our breakfast, we sadly have to leave the splendor of the markets and get going with our plan for the day: a roadtrip along the coast complete with a stop at a homemade cider brewery (…“cidery”?) and a chocolate shop. Life doesn’t get much better than this…
We pick up our trusty steed Carl from the parking garage near our hostel and hit the road by late-morning. Our beautiful (ahem I mean helpful) car rental man knew his stuff: the drive does not disappoint.
We wind our way along the coast through soft rolling hills of brown grass and gumtrees and then pop out onto a coastal road with dramatic views of the nearby mountains. Bright green pastureland backs up to turquoise waters while small, sloping mountains hug the terrain behind us.
With so many stunning views to take in, we take quite a few breaks. The best one, without a doubt, though, is this one:
This little patch of verdant, waterfront pasture is too much to resist, so I throw Carl in park and we all get out to enjoy the view. We’re not too far out from our destination, but with sights like this, we figure why not take a pre-lunch break? Grabbing our snacks (a combination of leftovers from yesterday’s interrupted pack-lunch and new treats from today’s trip to the markets), we all sprawl out along Carl’s hood and dig in.
Just as I’m getting comfortable digging into my sixth apple of the day (seriously, Apple Man’s apples are no joke — yum!), a rather large and curious bumble bee decides to pay us all a visit. The little guy is so friendly that he follows Kirsten, Katrina, and Liz into the car (which, mind you, does not have power windows) and then back out of it again when they realize that frantically cranking up the windows is now no longer a viable option. Meanwhile, I am laughing so hard at the impressive level of hysteria of my friends and the surprising commitment on the bee’s part that I just about choke on my apple. I’m the only one with the keys, though, and with a madman bee on the loose, my fellow Tasmaniacs quickly grow weary of my lack of sympathy. So, still hiccuping and giggling uncontrollably, I finish my apple and hop back into the car with the rest of the gang. Katrina looks at me like I have two heads and a death wish when I keep my window down as I turn on the car and slowly pull back onto the road, and all three of my now very jumpy passengers refuse to put the windows back down even as we get kilometers away from location of our last bee sighting. I’d say those few minutes of entertainment are well worth the stuffiness in the car now, though…
Even with our (*cough* okay, my) ample photography breaks, our rather lengthy run-in with the bee, and our taking things slow — cruising with the windows down to better take in the views (prior to the whole bee ordeal, of course) — we reach the quaint little town of Huonville in record time. Huonville is not only home to our cider and chocolate destinations, but also some pretty impressive scenery.
Around the cider place, in particular, the view becomes truly spectacular. The clouds, which have been threatening to dump rain on us for awhile now, fan out dramatically across the sky while enormous green hills build up into the tall, imposing mountains in the background. We find our way to the cider place and head inside, promising to return to the parking lot to snap pictures of the views after our glasses of fresh, appley goodness.
I am, of course, to be behind the wheel for this whole endeavor and am also, of course, a responsible person, so I ask Katrina if she wants to split the cider taster (four glasses of their most popular hard ciders, made in-house), so that I can enjoy the splendors of this fine establishment without, you know, risking our lives or anything. She’s a saint and accepts, and I limit myself to one drink’s worth of tastes of the ciders and order myself some fries, too — driving works up an appetite, after all.
It’s all phenomenal, by the way. (Of course.)
After our cider we head out back for our picture session and I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say it was pretty worth it…
Bellies full of sweet, spiked apple juice and fattening food, we reunite with Carl and head for the chocolate shop — “The Cat’s Tongue” — just five minutes down the road.
The Cat’s Tongue is a cute little shop tucked away in a side street and packed with people. I parallel park Carl (…or attempt to, rather…) and we all head inside. Most of the sweet treats are out of our price range but, after a bit of deliberating, we find some snacks that will do the trick in satisfying our sweet tooths before we hit the road again. Kirsten and I get chocolate ice cream (which I pair with a cappuccino because…well, like I said…I have a problem) and Liz gets a beautiful little lemon meringue pie.
What’s even better than the desserts? The owners of the chocolate shop. They’re an adorable older couple that bicker light-heartedly about sale prices and customer service and who literally run a chocolate shop together. The lady (who works the front) is likely the kindest woman I’ve ever met, and this is after hanging out in Hobart for a couple days now (and living in Australia in general for several months now!). She offers us expert advice on what to get, brings us water, strikes up a conversation with us about nearly everything, offers us advice on the local area, and even fills up my enormous 1.5L Nalgene water bottle for me (really, it’s the little things).
Sadly, it’s getting late, so we bid a bittersweet farewell to the chocolate shop couple (and a very sweet farewell to the family with several rowdy kids who sat next to us) and hit the road again. The drive back to Hobart is relatively quick, with the landscape morphing from the dramatic beauty of the mountainous farmland to the quaint city vibes of Hobart.
I do, of course, force one more stop on the gang before we get too far away from Huonville.
We’re sad to have to draw our amazing day of road tripping to a close, but in classic Tasmanian style, Hobart isn’t about to make our return to it any less than spectacular…
Not a bad way to say welcome back.