The capital of Tasmania, Hobart was founded way back in 1803 and is home to just 200,000 residents surrounded by 1.38 million hectares of World Heritage wilderness. It’s the smallest state capital of Australia and therein lies some of the apple isle’s magic.
The city (or very big town) sits on the Derwent River at the foot of the striking Mount Wellington. The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race which takes place each Boxing Day sees the tiny city swell to large proportions when festival frenzy takes over. Around the same time the Taste Festival celebrates food, wine, the arts and culture of Tasmania and the entire city gets involved.
Historically Hobart was once a whaling town and huge old warehouses line the harbour that date back to the 1830s that now house café’s, antiques, restaurants and art galleries providing a very pleasurable option for dining and shopping.
When you think of Hobart you immediately picture the old sandstone cottages of early settlers that have been beautifully preserved over time. The old architecture defines the personality of Hobart which along with its beautiful surrounds gives it a very unique and historic character.
Each Saturday the Salamanca Market is the place to be as around 300 stalls open with a diverse range of fashion, jewelery, handcrafts and original ‘made in Tassie’ goods. Constitution Dock, like Salamanca Place, is filled with renovated warehouses now trendy cafés and shops as well as being the finishing line for the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Check out the iconic Drunken Admiral which is wonderfully atmospheric, suitably full of maritime memorabilia serving up great food.
Hunter Street has grown into the latest hub for artists, once home to a jam factory, and the amazing luxury of the Henry Jones Art Hotel is not to be missed. The property is brimming with more than 300 works of art intimately connecting visitors with a very creative experience. Each suite is uniquely designed and connects history with culture, and is unsurprisingly the recipient of numerous design awards.
A new addition to the city is the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) that showcases ancient Egyptian mummies (old) and some of the world’s most innovative contemporary art (new). Remaining in tune with creative innovation, visitors wander the halls with a touch-screen device that provides information about the work within the vicinity of the visitor, sensing your location. You can even vote for your favourite or least favourite pieces.
Take a walk in Louisa’s shoes. Louisa’s Walk is a unique guided tour through the historic life of convict Louisa Regan. Convicted of stealing a loaf of bread in 1841 Louisa was imprisoned at the infamous Female Factory. This woman’s touching experience is played out by actors in a theatrical guided walk from the gardens of the Cascade Brewery along the Hobart Rivulet to the Female Factory.
For something different splash out and board a catamaran from the harbour that will take you to Peppermint Bay and enjoy fresh, local, gourmet food and wine as well as spectacular landscapes.
To the city’s north, the Bonorong Park Wildlife Centre showcases some of Australia’s unique wildlife, including the must see, native Tasmanian Devil. You can take a car to the top of Mount Wellington, a beautiful drive, and appreciate the beauty of the city laid out below with stunning views. If you’re feeling like a shot of adrenalin take the downhill bike tour on your return.
Music and theatre are well represented and enjoyed in Hobart, and the Tasmanian Orchestra appears regularly at the Hotel Grand Chancellor‘s Federation Concert Hall. The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, established in 1818 on the banks of the Derwent River cover 13.5 hectares filled with around 6,500 plant species including some unusual sub-Antarctic plants that can only be found here.
Whether its history, the arts, divine dining or adventure you’re looking for, Tasmania’s capital is the place to start. This little island is a very large and pleasurable experience.