Equal parts delicious and upsetting, Dark Mofo is an immersive celebration of the winter solstice that descends upon Hobart to flaunt the gruesome and the visceral, researching ancient ritual and ceremony in the past to the present day. Kicking off on June 8, the 14-day festival includes a slew of food, music, performance art, sound and light installations alongside exhibits which are beyond the bounds of various categorisation.
Mona was assembled as an extended, underground labyrinth, 11 kilometres north of Hobart — a simple 25-minute ferry ride across the Derwent River — together with the personal fortune of Walsh. It is explicit and unashamed, and is affectionately called’the museum of sex and death’. In short, you must go. And Dark Moon is the best excuse to go down to Tassie and make a weekend of it.
No trip to Hobart would be complete without a Saturday morning visit to Salamanca Market. Every weekend, the harbourside suburb becomes a bustling market, showcasing an extensive and delicious assortment of local produce, artisan crafts and food stalls. Make sure to drop by Machine Laundry, a cafe which doubles up as a laundromat serving some of the best coffee in the city. Another honourable mention for coffee and brunch is Room for a Pony located up the mountain in North Hobart.
While Salamanca is an iconic (and necessary) weekend tourist stop, it is worth noting that the marketplace can get very busy, especially over the festival period. Brimming with local farmers, this is where to source many Tasmania’s best sport and fresh meat, in addition to fresh-from-the-farm produce, like pickles and chutneys. Bathurst Street is also a hotspot for brunch choices; The Flipped Egg serves an average breakfast hamburger, while Bury Me Standing is the go-to for pot-boiled bagels. Tasmania is even thought to boast some of the freshest fish out of Japan, and the Farm Gate Market is fortunate enough to host Masaaki Koyama’s hugely popular sushi stall. And you absolutely must find a dozen oysters (yes, even for breakfast).
If your budget goes beyond marketplace nosh, be time to have a meal in Franklin. Additionally, it is nice to drop by for a drink and a bite before or after a show, so that you can still see without spending up to a complete storm.
In the evening, Dark Moon provides two paths for gluttonous excess. Local and worldwide chefs function hawker-style hedonism inside a medieval-themed feast hall, lined with naked flames and a wide array of food outlets. Otherwise, head down to Dark Park at Macquarie Point — this is the interactive and free epicentre of the Dark Moon. Space is an industrial expanse littered with art installations, food trucks along with the obligatory fire pit — a must for anybody still hanging for sensory stimulation.
Action, a physical performance piece which isn’t for the faint-hearted. Heavy. On the lighter end of the spectrum, Crossing invites participants on a 200-kilometre pilgrimage north of Hobart, seeing six distinct churches across six different nights. Each church will offer a background for soundscapes and light displays.
The musical lineup is powerful. Scottish post-rock stalwarts Mogwai will execute a vast and towering soundscape, and German experimental sound art pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten will delve into their portfolio, which spans 37 years. Dark Moon has also procured a performance from native hip-hop group A.B. Original and Norwegian black metal experimental musicians Ulver. Xiu Xiu will celebrate the songs of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.
The Nude Solstice Swim is a communal dip in the sea on the first sunrise following winter solstice, and the Ogoh-Ogoh, the traditional Indonesian monster procession, arrives in Hobart in 2 parts: the purging and the burning.
If you see Hobart during Dark Moon, you will want to be in the thick of it. Events are scattered throughout the city but are centralised across the Salamanca, waterfront and CBD locations.
Filling the gap between backpackers and budget chain hotels, the Alabama Hotel provides a boutique, budget-friendly lodging at the centre of Hobart. You won’t find lifts, fluffy robes or en-suite baths here — instead, each room has its decorative design, heaps of personality and super-fast WiFi. The pub is well-stocked and functions good coffee during the day.
If you are on a higher budget, think about renting a Mona Pavilion. You won’t be staying in the museum, but a luxury den sitting on the bank of the River Derwent. Otherwise, The Macq01 Hotel is waterfront accommodation and set the scene with its storytelling theme and free walking tours. Rooms are pricier compared to Alabama but tastefully decorated with works from local artists.