This post covers the two nights I recently had in Hobart catching up with my brother, The Mole.
I flew into Hobart late Friday afternoon on a surprisingly on time and hassle free JetStar flight. The Mole picked me up and we headed to Casa de Mole so I could drop off my carry-on bag and quickly freshen up before heading into the city.
After a quick drink with one of The Mole’s work colleagues, we walked over to where the TacoTaco food truck was parked between the Marine Board building and the skating rink.
As the name suggests, this truck predominately serves tacos, and four varieties were on offer that night:
* Grilled chicken, iceberg lettuce, pickled onion and chipotle mayo
* Pulled pork with apple ‘slaw
* Black bean, goat’s cheese and red ‘slaw
* Korean beef with sesame slaw (this taco was a $1 extra than the rest and was not gluten free – all the others are GF).
The Mole said straight away he was having the Korean beef taco as he had read good things about it on TacoTacos Facebook page. He also wanted the pulled pork taco, as did I. I had originally decided on the black bean taco as my second variety, but had a last minute change to the chicken (I was swayed by the chipotle mayo) when I went up to order.
The Mole got the last Korean beef taco, which is why it has been rubbed off the blackboard menu in the above photo.
You can get your order to go, where the tacos are served in a pizza box, or order ‘eat in’. Your name is called when your order is ready.
You can have a skate on the fake ice rink while you wait.
We decided to eat in. The box on the left is the chicken taco (purple sauce) and the Korean beef, and on the right are the two pulled pork tacos. Hot sauces are available on a shelf under the menu.
We started with the pulled pork and it was the clear winner of the night. The flavours were spot on and the closest I have found to the many excellent tacos I consumed in California. The chicken was nice but I couldn’t really taste the chipotle. The Mole liked the ingredients in the Korean beef taco (ie, the beef itself) but didn’t think it actually worked as a taco.
There a lot of bars and pubs in Salamanca, so you won’t go thirsty. We had a quick beverage in Barcelona before heading home.
The Mole has a good view over Sandy Bay and the Derwent river.
And in the day time…
After a quick breakfast of vegemite toast on Saturday morning we were on the road to Kettering just after 8am.
Kettering is where the ferry to Bruny Island leaves from. The ferry only runs ten or so times a day (depending on the day and the time of year) so you want to make sure you are there in plenty of time to get a spot on the departure you want (the website recommends 30 minutes beforehand). There is a toll booth before the line to get on starts and it is $30 per car for a return crossing. I believe it is free if you walk on (though you need transport to get around on the island).
We were early enough to be in lane 1, with roughly four cars ahead of us. Lanes 2 and 3 quickly filled up though.
Boarding started around 10 minutes before departure and for the trip over to Bruny we were on the top deck.
Looking back towards Kettering…
Despite the cloud cover, it was a pretty morning.
The ferry takes about 20 minutes and we were soon driving off and onto North Bruny. Bruny Island is made up two islands, North and South, which are joined to each other by a thin strip of land (an isthmus) called The Neck. From the ferry on the North Island it was around a 40 minute drive to Adventure Bay and our first (and main) stop of the day.
We were booked on Bruny Island Cruises‘ three-hour eco-adventure, which leaves Adventure Bay at 11am. Disclosure: The Mole works in the tourism industry and as such, the cruise was courtesy of Pennicott Wilderness Journeys.
If you are driving yourself (you can get the company’s mini bus from either Hobart or Kettering) parking is on the right hand side around 50 metres from the beachside cafe and check-in point.
It is recommended you get there at least half an hour before the cruise, so as to get checked-in and hear the brief introductory talk. Another great reason to get there early is the muffins!
On the day we cruised, Belinda was manning the check-in counter and warmly greeting everyone and giving them the run-down on how the day works. The Mole and I were pleasantly surprised when she said that our booking included complimentary morning tea and lunch. We did not expect this at all and were most grateful.
Morning tea can be purchased before the cruise and is $6 for a blueberry muffin and a hot or cold drink.
Kenny is in the kitchen and I can say he bakes a bl**dy good muffin. They came out warm, and were moist and crumbly. The Mole skipped the hot drink and I got a mug of hot water as I had my own Jasmine tea bags.
If you want lunch after the cruise you must order, and pay for it, beforehand. The options are home-made pumpkin soup and a fresh salad roll (with smoked salmon, ham or vegetarian) plus a hot or cold drink for $20, or the soup with a bread roll and a drink for $11, or the salad roll and a drink for $15.
Both The Mole and I chose the soup and bread roll option.
What I thought was great was that if you take your own lunch, you are more than welcome to sit in the cafe, or at the outside picnic tables, and eat it after the cruise. Those that have ordered lunch from the cafe sit at reserved tables, but if you BYO you can sit at any of the unreserved ones.
I would definitely recommend rugging up in as many layers as practical. The boat goes out into the open seas and it gets a bit chilly. If you forget your own beanie and gloves you can borrow some from the company. Also, use the bathroom facilities before you get on the boat. There are toilets on board, but even the staff recommend that the land based ones are easier to use!
It was time to board our vessel, which was docked at a jetty a short walk along the road, or an even shorter mini bus ride if you are not inclined to walk.
On the jetty we were told the best way to board the boat, and where to sit if you get motion sickness. The boats are custom designed for Bruny Island Cruises, but if I had to compare them, I would say travelling in them is similar to jet boating.
As you can see they are pretty open, which gives everyone on board a good view.
Our crew for the day consisted of Chris, Leigh and deckhand Nathan.
The Mole and I were lucky enough to get a row to ourselves about five rows from the front. Seatbelts are included for the front seats and must be done up when the boat is in motion.
Wind and water-proof ponchos are provided on the boat. They are not flattering, but are recommended as they add a layer of protection from the elements.
Leaving the jetty…
We were given a safety briefing, and ginger tablets were handed out. I recommend taking the guys up on this offer as it can get a bit rough, and it is better to be safe than sorry.
Formalities done with, we were off around the coast of Bruny Island.
I took a lot of photos (though possibly less than The Mole), and I will include a few here to give you an idea, but I think you should all head down to this amazing part of the world to check it out for yourself, it is truly spectacular.
Our first wildlife sighting was of some cormorants.
There are a lot of caves along the coastline and we got up close for a look at most of them.
Can you believe the colour of the water?
What I thought was fantastic is that everywhere we stopped, we could undo our seatbelts and get up and walk around to take photos, and that it didn’t matter what side of the boat you were on, or whether you were up the front or the back, the boat was slowly turned around at each stop so everyone could have a good look at the cave, wildlife and so on. We even backed up a few times so those at the back could get a good look in caves and at the breathing rock.
The guides were amazing. Their knowledge and enthusiasm for the area (including history, wildlife and geology) was astounding, and a credit to the company. A tour is always more interesting when the guides are genuinely passionate about what they do.
This is Chris, our main guide for the day, telling us about the kelp he is holding. He had heard that this stuff can grow up to a metre in 24 hours. He did not believe this and one day got a piece, measured it, and then measured it again the next day, and sure enough, it had grown just under a meter since the previous day!
This rock formation is referred to as Eagle rock.
These are the second highest dolomite cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere.
This is referred to as the monument and we went speeding through here twice on the way out (this is looking back the way we came), and back again the other way on the way back to base.
This was one of my favourite sites on the cruise, breathing rock. The water gets sucked into a crevice in the rock and then is spat back out in a blowhole affect.
You could judge the size of the water spray by watching how long the rock took to breathe in the water.
This is Jimmy’s cave, named after a ex crew member who was also passionate about Bruny. Most of the crew have swum through here.
This is Keyhole cave. I can’t remember what causes the pink colour but it was pretty!
There were three different kinds of birds on this rock, two kinds of Cormorant and two red footed boobies.
It was then time to say hello to the seals!
Most were on land, but a few were in the water, with some even leaping out in a way similar to dolphins.
It always amazes me how a creature that is so ungainly and a bit awkward on the land, is so quick and sleek in the water. These seals are all boys, and once a year they hook up with the lady seals who live in Bass Strait. They eat a ridiculous amount (23kgs?) of squid each per day and have to keep their eyes peeled for great white sharks.
For the first part of the cruise we hugged the coastline, but for the trip back, we went out to sea a bit further. This meant we went a bit faster (and bumpier!) and the wind chill factor got up there, but it was fun, and with gloves, beanie and the poncho the only cold part of me was my face. This also meant more wildlife spotting opportunities. The crew were on the lookout and the boat would slow and we would change course if anything interesting was happening.
We motored a bit further out to have a closer look at some bird action. The birds in the below shot are gannets and watching these guys dive into the ocean to catch fish was amazing. They dive down straight as an arrow and so fast. Their anatomy is designed to be able to stand the force with which they hit the water, they have no external nostrils and can puff their chest up to act as an airbag.
You can the gannets sitting on the water in the next photo, and also some small black birds. These are diving pectorals and they are so quick, in a blink of an eye they disappear under the water to catch some lunch.
We also saw this gorgeous fellow, an albatross. The guides kept expecting him to take off as we circled around him but he was just as curious about us as we were about him. I would have liked to have seen him flight, albatrosses have a two metre wing span!
Now, I would have loved to have seen dolphins, and they are a regular sighting on this cruise, but I swear, dolphins always know I am around and refuse to show themselves!
It was time to head back to shore, so with a bit more zooming around the cliffs and back through the monument we were on our way. If you are feeling a bit peckish after being out on the water for so long, don’t fear, snacks are offered! I think it was just before our bird spotting that Nathan came around with a box of BBQ shapes for us to munch on, and as we got back into Adventure Bay, he came around with Tim Tams.
We disembarked at the jetty and The Mole and I walked back to the cafe. While BBQ Shapes and Tim Tams are great, nothing warms the body up like a big bowl of pumpkin soup.
When you order lunch before the cruise you are given a docket with your order on it plus a table number. On arrival back at the cafe sit at your assigned table and Kenny will bring out your lunch. Not only was this a very generous serving size, but it was some of the best pumpkin soup either The Mole or I have had. I make a pretty fine version but I think Kenny’s has mine pipped! The Mole confessed he is not a big pumpkin soup fan, but loved this one! The roll was soft and fresh, and there is nothing like dipping fresh buttered bread into soup.
Lunch includes a tea or coffee, or you are welcome to get a cold drink out of the fridge. All the cold beverages are Tassie made. The Mole had a sparkling apple juice and I grabbed an orange soda on the way out.
I cannot thank Belinda, Kenny, Chris, Leigh and Nathan enough for a great experience. Also thanks to Andrew for organising our booking. I can’t recommend this cruise enough, Bruny Island is a stunning part of the world, and to have such friendly, knowledgeable and engaging people share it with you can’t be beaten.
Back in the car our next stop was the Bruny Island Providore, an outlet for Bruny Island fudge, truffles and chocolate. We got to sample two kinds of fudge, one was a milk chocolate variety and one was a white variety. All the fudge is handmade and there is a video playing on a TV showing the process. The Mole purchased a peppermint fudge and I purchased a strawberry version and an hazelnut version. I also snagged the last packet of honeycomb, which has to be some of the best honeycomb ever. The lovely lady behind the counter also gave us a sample packet of the coffee fudge.
Our next stop was the lookout at The Neck, where the two islands are joined. It is 200 steps to the top, but worth it for the view.
I am a fan of the Gourmet Farmer TV series on SBS, and one of the regulars is Nick Haddow, owner of Bruny Island Cheese. Seeing that I also love cheese, it was a no brainer that we were going to stop there.
We tasted around eight cheeses and The Mole purchased a tub of the o.d.o. (one day old), and I brought a piece of the Bastard.
We decided to skip the oyster farm but were keen to go the Smokehouse, but alas it is closed on Saturdays (which seems a bit odd). So we drove back to the ferry landing and joined the queue for the 4:30 ferry back to Kettering.
I would definitely recommend making time in your itinerary to spend a day or two on Bruny Island. There is plenty to explore and I saw some nice looking self-contained accommodations.
Once the ferry docked at Kettering, it was an easy drive back to Hobart, with a quick detour via the bottle shop, which was offering an amazing discount on wine!
The plan for dinner that night was to head to Crumb Street Kitchen, which I was really excited about. CSK does American BBQ food and I was keen for some ribs or a pulled pork sandwich. They are very popular and will post on Facebook and Twitter if they sell out before closing time (which on a Saturday is 9:30pm). The Mole checked Facebook at 6:30pm and all looked god so we headed out. Only to find a dark shop and a sign on the door saying they sold out at 4:30pm. We weren’t very happy.
A post went up at 8:30pm saying they had updated their Facebook page at 4:30pm but it hadn’t worked. There was nothing on Twitter at all, so I have my doubts. If they had posted they should probably check to ensure that it was successful (a whole 10 seconds at most?), and not wait four hours to do so.
We popped around to Devil’s Kitchen but The Mole was pretty sure they are closed on Saturday nights, and they were. So it was down to the docks to get fish ‘n’ chips from Flippers, a floating take-away shop.
The Mole got crumbed Trevally with chips (on the left) and I had beer-battered flathead and chips.
The portions were large, and tasted OK.
Sunday morning The Mole, who is training for a marathon, went for a run, while I caught up on social networking and admired the view of Mt Wellington out of the spare bedroom window.
The Mole had bought eggs and bacon, so being a good house guest I cooked us breakfast.
After breakfast we headed out to the Coal Valley to hit up some wineries. However, our first stop was at Shiploads, a bulk buy discount store. I managed to only walk away with one paperback book, and one 375g block of Cadbury’s honeycomb chocolate, total price of $6.15.
Our first wine stop was at Frogmore Creek.
We tasted most of the wines, but left without buying anything. Tasting is $5pp, refundable on purchase.
Our next stop was at the family-run Puddleduck winery.
There were ducks on the pond…
…but on the porch of the cellar door was this handsome mallard, called Lucky.
As well as ducks, Puddleduck has a wine dog, Polly. She likes customers to rub her belly!
Polly and her friend had the honour of being on the cover of the first Wine Dogs of Australia book.
There were also these birds, not sure what they are though.
The two ladies at the cellar door at Puddleduck were so friendly, happy to have a chat about as well as pour tastings for us. I bought a bottle of the chardonnay and The Mole got a bottle of pinot noir. If you don’t purchase anything a piggybank is on the counter to take a donation for the tasting.
To break up the wine tasting we stopped in at Wicked Cheese.
Before tasting cheese, I got distracted by this rack of chocolate.
It advertised that there were 90 different flavours (and I did try and count them but gave up) and each block was $3.50. I know I should have tried something different but I ended up with a honeycomb, a fruit and nut, and a hazelnut.
Onto some cheese, and we tried three varieties of marinated fetta; one was just in plain olive oil (I think), one had herbs in it, and the third had chilli in it. The chilli version had a real kick to it. Then we tried two plain cheddars, one young and one more aged, a peppercorn flavoured one, a whiskey flavoured one and a smoked one. I decided to get the smoked version but a look in the fridge yielded a three pack (cheddar, smoked and peppercorn) for $20. So I got that instead. In very Tasmanian fashion, the cheese maker was onsite, but was doing the gardening!
Our third and final winery was Pooley wines.
The Mole bought another bottle of pinot noir and we headed into the historic town of Richmond.
We had two main goals in Richmond, the first was to hit up Sweets and Treats, an old fashioned lolly shop.
The Mole got acid drops (lemon flavoured boiled lollies, not psychedelic drugs) and I stocked up on freckles (because I really needed more chocolate!).
Our second goal was lunch at the Richmond Arms Hotel.
(yes, that is The Mole lounging in a bathtub).
There is nothing gastro about the Richmond Arms, it is simple, solid country pub food. The menu is on blackboards scattered around the place and ordering of both food and drink is done at the bar.
The Mole had the T-bone steak with chips and salad.
I had the half roast of the day (beef).
The bar maid did say when I asked her about portion sizes that it is more like 3/4 of the full serve not half, and for $13 I think it was a total bargain!
After lunch we did a bit of a tour around the country side, then The Mole dropped me off at the airport (after a roadside stop to get all my cheese and chocolate into my carry-on bag).
I had upgraded to Business class using points so therefore had access to the Qantas Club. Thankfully a recent renovation (knocking down a wall and putting in a corridor) means that this lounge is now airside.
The above photo was taken just after I got there. Don’t be deceived, this place gets absolutely packed (standing room only) before a flight.
We boarded on time and I was in the second row on the aisle of an un-refurbished cabin.
I had mentioned to The Mole earlier in the day that due to the time of the flight (4:50pm) and the duration (an hour at most) I didn’t think there would be a dinner service, it would just be a snack. The announcement after take-off said a light refreshment would be served but this must have been just for economy passengers as we got a full dinner in Business. The choices were lamb shanks or duck curry. I tried the curry.
You know what, it was really really good. I had only planned to pick at it, but ended up using the bread roll to mop up the sauce it was that good. The chocolate dessert at the back (which somehow tipped itself over) was the same as what I had on my flight back from Sydney.
We landed on schedule and I was soon on my way home.
This is a photo of what I lugged back with me!
A massive thanks to The Mole for such a great weekend, you were the perfect host.