Hobart is one of the most historic, prettiest and coolest cities in Australia, yet simultaeously the gateway to the very edge of the world; it opens up one of the most accessible wilderness frontiers you could ever hope to visit. It offers a multitude of experiences and is worth enjoying for two or three days before heading off to get under the skin of the surrounding and outlying areas that are often neglected by visitors.
You will land in Hobart just under or just over an hour after leaving the metropolises of Melbourne or Sydney, yet you will feel like you have simulataneously moved into another continent and back into another century. Disembark the plane, breathe deeply - the cleanest air in the inhabited world - hire your car and head into the city, noting Mt Wellington gazing down on you from up high. You will be at your charming convict built B&B, townhouse or boutique hotel within an hour of landing. Settle in and walk - for this is Australia's best city for walking by a country mile - and head towards the waterfront. TMAG (the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery) is the essential first stop for anyone visiting Tasmania. It is free, so you can spend as little as 30 minutes or as much as three hours here, and every second is well spent, to learn about the island you are about to explore. If you are planning to eat out, you will probably want to head to one of the buzzing little eateries in Salamanca or the slightly more tranquil but no less charming Battery Point. Even better if you are a tad weary, give in to the the delectable gourmet Wursthaus Deli for a smorgasbord of fantastic home grown treats and a very special bottle of Tassie wine with which to celebrate your first night in Tassie back in your hotel - which will almost certainly have conveniently provided a lovely little kitchen in which to prepare your dinner. Or just have an apres-dinner drink as the sun sinks on the harbour, with the Great Southern Ocean beyond.
Wake early - you are likely to be a little jet-lagged after all - and watch the sun rise over Hobart - nothing short of spectacular.
Try to arrange your visit so you are in Hobart for a Saturday morning, for the 50 year old Salamanca Markets are legendary and you will love mixing with the locals and browsing the craft and food stalls.
Drive up to the summit of Mount Wellington which rises to almost 1400 metres above the city. The sporty can even enjoy an exhilarating cycle ride down. Once back at sea level, take the ferry or get the 'Mona Roma' bus to the Museum of Old and New Art, known as Mona, in Berridale, just ten minutes from Hobart. This is the largest private collection of art and antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere located on a winery. Expect shock, awe, great food and wine and a lot of fun in equal measure. Allow at least half a day here.
Head back to Hobart and take a walk among the galleries before heading off to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary just 25 minutes or so outside Hobart, where young conservationist icon Greg Irons is leading Australians in wildlife conservation. Come face to face with the world's largest surviving carniverous marsupials at one of the most important captive breeding sanctuaries of Tasmanian devils, and probably all Tassie's endemic species of marsupial and reptile. Bonorong is a stunning location and a fantastic education - well worth taking your time over. Consider booking a behind-the-scenes or a night-feeding tour - worth every penny.
Day 3 and 4
If your time in Tasmania is too limited to make it to the wild west coast, you can still experience magnificence at the Mount Field National Park, about 90 minutes from Hobart. Spot Platypus, walk among the Giants - the tallest flowering trees in the world - and admire the wonderful Russell Falls. A wonderful day trip from Hobart. Head back into the City. If you want to live that feeling of remoteness, head an hour or so further south to the Huon Valley for a night or two at Huon Bush Retreats in a private forest reserve near Huonville. This is an entirely solar powered retreat, but the cabins have lovely woodburners and a gorgeous rainforest and river setting. Expect possums on your verandah and pademelons on your porch while you relax in an al fresco bath tub! if you plan to stay another night or two here, you should head to Tasmania's far south and enjoy some spectacular vistas into the Hartz Mountains and the South West National Park from the Tahune Air Walk. Even get down as far as Cockle Creek - the southernmost inhabited point in Australia, where you can explore Hastings Caves and go on the Ida Railway.
Another 90 minute to two hour from Hobart drive brings you to the Tasman Peninsula, the beauty of which is only exacerbated by the horrors of the Port Arthur Historic Site, Van Diemen's Land's most feared penal colonies. The interpretation here is brilliant, and your pass will also take you on a cruise to the Isle of the Dead. It will leave you ponderous and respectful of Tasmanians, many of whose families began their humble lives here.
The Tasman Peninsula is far too beautiful to enjoy in a day so settle down in your self contained apartment at Port Arthur Villas, set in lovely gardens right opposite the Historic Site. If you are feeling brave, head back out for a Ghost Tour at the Port Arthur Historic Site, or even (grown-ups only) a Paranormal Tour!
Today is the day you head out to the very edge of the Great Southern Ocean with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. Take the eco vessel along the highest cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere, at 300 metres in height, and expect Dolphin, Albatross, Short-tailed Shearwaters and from May to November, Whales. A breathtaking adventure experience to be enjoyed by all.
Head back towards Hobart but another treat is in store - your accommodation tonight is the lovely little chocolate-box pretty B&B Margate Cottage with stunning views over forested valleys and a gorgeous little river that beckons you for an evening swim. A true hidden gem.
Enjoy the pretty Inverawe Gardens, half a lifetime's work by Bill and Margaret Chestnut, and the lovely local Blackmans Bay. It is hard to believe that a state capital is just fifteen minutes away.
Days 8 and 9
Say goodbye to Sveva and Michael, your hosts at Margate Cottage, and head to Kettering to catch your little ferry to Bruny Island, one of Tasmania's most beautiful national parks. A fifteen minute ferry ride lands you on the southern most inhabited island before the Antarctic. Beautiful Bruny is worth a good two days of your time but with an award-winning winery, cheesery, oyster farm, all twelve endemic species of bird and the world's only white wallabies, you won't be bored. Bruny Island - for all its remoteness - has a surprisingly eclectic choice of accommodation ranging from the magical farm stay at Inala Country Accommodation with expert birder and wildlife carer Tonia Cochran, to the delightful family-run Explorers Cottages and sister beach houses. Not forgetting a bloody good slap up dinner and roaring log fire at Hotel Bruny.
Goodbye Bruny, and hello Tasmania (the mainland). For that's how it will feel when your little ferry brings you back to Kettering! No worries, you have yet another lovely experience ahead of you. Just twenty minute from the ferry you will find Villa Howden, the newest five star boutique hotel to open in Tasmania and with its lovely French chateau-style accommodation, indoor heated pool overlooking gorgeous gardens, there are few better ways to spend your last night in Southern Tasmania.
If you are leaving Tasmania today but still don't feel that you have seen enough, don't despair. Wilderness Air company Par Avion offers amazing seaplane trips to Melaleuca in the South West National Park from Cambridge Airport in Hobart. Your pilot will fly you down over the wild southern beaches where you may see the tiny figures of walkers on the ten day South Coast Track, and back across vast snow-capped mountains with mysterious crater lakes sparkling in the sun, and deep gorges where no man has ever set foot. Here on the shores of Bathurst Harbour you will visit the former shack of Deny King, conservationist and tin miner, who set up the only breeding place of the endangered Orange-Bellied Parrot in Melaleuca, deep in the uninhabited South West. This trip will leave you gasping in wonder and determined to make a return visit to explore the north, east and western corners of this spectacular wilderness island.