As I write this in the middle of a Sydney lockdown, it’s hard to believe that not only do Business Events Tasmania (BET) host the most amazing famils, they also manage to time them perfectly. It was the first famil they had run in Tassie in 2 years and flying back into a masked up Sydney on a Friday evening made being able to get away for it, all the more special.
Turning up to Sydney Airport, for the first time in 18 months I was like a kid in a candy store. Automatic check in not working? Who cares! Delayed by a disorganised family ahead of me in the airport scanners? Adorable! Yes, please do randomly pick me for a bomb check!
Eventually arriving into cold but crisp and sunny Hobart I couldn’t help taking a huge breath out, we were back.
We headed straight into a hard hat tour of The Tasman, due to open by the end of the year – a glorious ode to 3 different eras of the building; federation, 1920’s and modern.
I took a quick detour while the rest of the group enjoyed delicious cocktails at Hadley’s Orient Hotel to do a site inspection of Glen Albyn Estate – what a fantastic venue, the Australian Pain Society are headed there for their Gala Dinner in April next year, I can’t wait for the delegates to see that tree.
After a site inspection of Wrest Point, which had us all fondly remembering the days of filling a plenary hall with real people, we were lucky enough to be hosted at Landscape Restaurant & Grill for dinner –they set such a high standard for the rest of the food and wine we enjoyed that week!
The cherry on the cake for the day was walking into my room at the new Crowne Plaza Hobart. Opened in June 2020 I was impressed with the quality and size of the room.
A site inspection of the conference space at the Crowne the following morning got our appetites going and after breakfast we headed out on my favourite mode of transport – HELICOPTERS! Life gets exponentially better when there are choppers involved.
4 helicopters full of event, conference and incentive planners then landed at Bangor Vineyard – actually we landed in the Yellow Bluff Creek Forest Reserve, at the eastern most point of Tasmania, a place only accessible by either a 15 minute bush walk or helicopter. It was very special. We were honoured with a Welcome to Country and then privileged enough to be offered mutton bird and freshly cooked wallaby skewers. Alongside this we enjoyed Bangor wines, impossibly fresh oysters, salmon chowder, veal meatballs and a baked brie concoction that had us all digging in as if we hadn’t spent the last 18 months talking about individual food servings being the way of the future.
Famils can be tough, and so sadly our time in this amazing piece of the world had to come to an end. Up, up and away we went in our helicopters, hugging the coast line all the way to Port Arthur. An immensely interesting historical tour was followed by a Pennicott Wilderness Cruise. The views of the highest vertical sea cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere at Cape Pillar alongside seals, albatross and other sea animals was breathtakingly worth the moment we crossed into the choppy Tasman Sea, and I started regretting the half a dozen oysters I had eaten earlier.
Dinner that evening was in the Bond Store at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Our Chef Analiese Gregory put on an incredible spread of local produce; abalone she had caught herself, lamb from her neighbour Sophie and an incredible array of fresh vegetables from her own garden. I was lucky enough to sit next to Bill Lark, of Lark Distillery, who not only took my “actually, I don’t really like whiskey” attitude in his stride, he insisted on pouring me a glass of his own Single Malt Whiskey, which I – surprisingly to me but not to Bill, enjoyed! Dessert was a table of unpasteurized and locally produced cheeses. Heaven.
The next morning, BET showed off their flexibility as our original plans were cancelled due to heavy mist – no choppers today. Instead, breakfast and story-telling at the Henry Art Jones Hotel before a morning of exploring.
I squeezed in a site inspection at the Hotel Grand Chancellor before meeting back up with the group for lunch at AURA, Hobart’s first rooftop venue, on top of Crowne Plaza Hobart. After at least a dozen unique and equally delicious courses, delicate lamb cutlets and an artichoke tart to finish, were the stand out for me, we headed to Gin(bar) by Forty Spotted to test our hands at a bit of gin making. It's safe to say that I’ll be leaving that to professionals from now on….
That evening we enjoyed cocktails at Evolve Spirits Bar in the MACq 01 Hotel before being driven out to Frogmore Creek for a spectacular dinner in front of a cosy, open fire. If that wasn’t enough, the evening was made thanks to a very special performance by a string quartet from the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. How lucky we were to experience this very intimate concert, I felt extremely privileged.
As the next day dawned it became clear there was one thing we still hadn’t done during our time in Hobart…. And so we jumped on a boat and headed out to MONA for a quick explore.
Confused, we left MONA just before lunch time – if we weren’t ending our trip here, then where? What could possible trump a lunch at MONA? Only a lunch at one of the most magnificent places I had never heard of, The Agrarian Kitchen. Welcomed by owners Rodney Dunn and Séverine Demanet, they explained their story, borne from a longing to connect back to the earth, and to grow and cook authentic food with real ingredients. We should all strive to live like this. The food was amazing, the wine was delicious and the tour of the rest of the venue, alongside Rodney’s explanation of what he hopes to do with the space was utterly inspiring.
Sadly, after an incredible and unique week, it was time to head back to the airport and go home. Of course, must one always travel in style – and so back on the helicopters we went.
Thank you so much to Business Events Tasmania – in particular to Laura Curtain for organising such a spectacular trip, and Leah Muir and Taryn Reid for herding us and keeping us to time, as well as all of the venues that hosted and toured us during these amazing few days.
Hobart is such a fantastic city to bring conferences too, small enough that delegates can’t help but feel connected with each other, whilst also being big enough to support conferences of up to 1100 delegates, I can’t wait to come back with the Australian Pain Society for their Annual Scientific Meeting in April next year.
Written by Alex Robertson, Conference Manager