Brodie Neill’s perfect weekend in Tasmania

The furniture and product designer – and founder of London-based Made in Ratio – has won international acclaim for his sculptural work, including pieces made from recycled ocean plastics

Brodie Neill in Tasmania
Brodie Neill in Tasmania | Image: Adam Gibson

“My mind is going at a million miles an hour when I wake up on Saturdays, and going for a run calms me down. I spend eight weeks of the year back home in Hobart, and my running route gives me a chance to reminisce. I’ll start at our house in the colonial suburb of Battery Point and follow the River Derwent past the School of Creative Arts where I studied furniture design. It’s the best location for an art school, overlooking the harbour bustling with fishing boats and cruise liners. 

I’ll run as far as the Botanical Gardens, then head home to pick up my wife Fleur and my daughter Synnove, and we’ll go for breakfast at Pigeon Hole, a small nook of a café in the hilly suburb of West Hobart that serves amazing rye toast and golden organic eggs.

Then we’ll wander along Salamanca, a revamped colonial boulevard filled with cafés, market stalls and shops. Among them is LUC, a shop that sells contemporary design, including my collection, and opposite is the Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies. My Gyro table is made from recycled ocean plastics gathered on Tasmania’s western shores, and I collaborate with the environmentalists, oceanographers and marine biologists at the Institute. We are currently exploring ways in which seaweed could be used as a type of hemp or fibreglass, and I’m always inspired by our discussions around the effects of ocean plastics and global warming.

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At lunchtime we’ll take the ferry around the coast to Mona, the Museum of Old and New Art, in Berriedale. It’s built into the cliff face and features more than 400 artworks, four restaurants, a winery, a brewery and event spaces, so we always stay the afternoon. My last visit was to see the new Pharos wing that houses four works by James Turrell. In Tasmania, we often have four seasons in one day, and his work perfectly captures the ever-changing light. 

On the way back to Hobart, we’ll down a refreshing Moo Brew Pilsner from the Mona brewery in the late afternoon sun, before going for dinner at Franklin. It’s housed in a converted art deco car showroom, done out with local wood and the odd wallaby fur. The head chef, Analiese Gregory, prepares delights such as wood-smoked Tasmanian abalone, and there’s an extensive list of natural wines. We’ll then go for a nightcap at Dier Makr: Tasmania has some fine new‑world whiskies – none better than Nant Sherry Cask at a smooth 43 per cent.

Hobart is in the middle of wilderness, with rivers and waterways to the east and mountains to the west, and on Sundays we’ll head out of town. I have family in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, so we grab coffee from Parklane Espresso, which serves Hobart’s best coffee, before driving through the Huon Valley along the Franklin River to see them. The scenery is breathtaking, and we always take a detour – a 45-minute walk through rainforest – to Snug Falls, where I went as a child. The roar of the water, the unbelievable smells and the lush ferns make it a magical spot. We peel ourselves away and drive to Geevesten, a typical Tasmanian town with apple orchards, boatbuilding and local crafts, and stop at Masaaki’s. He was one of Japan’s top sushi chefs but fell in love with a local girl and then Geevesten itself. His exquisite sushi, made from salmon, trevalla and snapper, is in high demand.

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We take the scenic route back around the peninsula to Peppermint Bay, a tranquil tavern overlooking Bruny Island, and sit on the lawn to watch the sunset. I always pick up a bottle of Jetty Road Pinot Noir, then we head home and wind down in preparation for Monday, which always starts like a gunshot.”

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