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A Glimpse into Hobart, Tasmania

Jun. 29th, 2009 | Comments 0 | Make a Comment   
The enterprise marks the realization of a dream by owner Keith Batt, himself no mean whisky enthusiast. His favorite drop - yet to be sampled - is a 1965 Ardbeg from the Hebridean isle of Islay, which takes pride of place in the tasting room. Mr Batt shelled out $6000 for the rare bottle.

The road to Bothwell and the distillery takes you past one of Australia's most magnificent winery-gallery complexes at Moorilla. Established as one of Tassie's foundation vineyards in 1958, it is now a multi-functioning destination that combines vineyard with brewery, residences, restaurant, art gallery, concert venue and - soon - a farmer's market.



The eclectic venue expresses the passion of owner David Walsh for fine food and wine, cutting-edge art, exciting architecture and unique accommodation. He is perhaps Australia's leading private art collector and through Moorilla's Museum of Old and New Art - soon to be opened - his collection will be on view to the public.

If you think the artwork in your room at the Henry Jones is quite something, wait until you book one of the suites at Moorilla. Each is named after an Australian modernist artist and features antiquities from Mr Walsh's collection. Greek coins, stone sculptures from Pre-Columbian Central America and mosaics from the Roman Empire are included in the decor of each pavilion. Original artworks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars are also on view in the public areas.

The art-wine-food theme continues with the remarkable development at Meadowbank, near the quaint old suburb of Richmond and just a few minutes from what Hobart ironically calls its international airport. They make excellent wines here - these days a given for Tasmanian wineries - and they also support local artists through an ever-changing gallery where painters who struggle to find economic display space can showcase their talents to a largely appreciative audience.

Meadowbank has 10 hectares of vines in the Coal River region and has won more awards than you can shake a bottle at. But it's much more than a winery - it has a restaurant, function centre, and cellar door and handles corporate meetings, weddings, and other celebrations.

It also has a unique and totally enthralling concept called Flawed History. This is an artistic representation of the history of the Tasmanian wine industry, paying homage to its pioneers and miscreants through a winding path of wooden floor carvings executed by artist Tom Samek and writer Graeme Phillips. The idea is you buy a bunch of tasting tickets and drink your way around the stunning art installation.

Elegant Hobart extends way beyond its lively, restaurant-lined waterfront. Take a trip on Peppermint Bay's magnificent catamaran - book the Captain's Cabin - and you're in for a few hours of pure, leather-seated luxury. The crew are laid-back but attentive - sometimes the craft seems to be steering itself while the skipper socializes - and the beautiful coastlines of the Derwent, Bruny Island and D'Entrecasteaux Channel slip into view.

After you've sipped your welcoming champagne and canapés, ask the skipper to stop and he'll oblige, perhaps to point out a blowhole in the towering cliffs, give a close-up glimpse of life in a salmon farm, or let you see what's happening in the octopus' garden through an underwater tele-camera. And then it's time to berth at lovely Peppermint Bay and its lovely hospitality venue. This won Australia's 2004 National Tourism award as best new hospitality development and has been gathering awards ever since.

First-time visitors to this fascinating old city are pleasantly surprised by the excellence and variety of its eating houses, many of them stocking a wide range of local wines including the magnificent Pooley range. Some which took my fancy included Monty's on Montpelier Retreat, where they have a display cabinet featuring 32 different cheeses; Rockwall on Salamanca operated by two former champion footballers, luxurious Marque 1V on Elizabeth Pier and Smolt in Salamanca Square, where tapas are a specialty.

For JustLuxe Paul Edwards
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