In March, whilst visiting family in Melbourne, I visited Hobart, capital of Tasmania. I've travelled around much of Victoria, the Red Centre, and part of New South Wales, including Sydney, but Hobart was so strikingly unique. Its centre is largely historical compared to those of Melbourne and Sydney. Its waterfront is lined with old maritime warehouses, harking back to its colonial and whaling past, and there are few tall buildings. It just felt like a different pace of life.
The city is packed with great attractions, parks, restaurants, and historical and cultural sights, so many in fact that here are just a handful of my favourites...
In the city centre
Salamanca Market Sadly, I wasn't here on the weekend, so I missed the market, but the space around the Arts Centre was bustling with a different crowd of restaurant-goers and after-work socialisers. The beautiful sandstone former warehouse buildings now house artsy shops, independent sellers, restaurants, bars and cafes.
Battery Point This is the Old Town of Hobart, the most historic and prestigious of the city's suburbs, with many large and extravagant homes built largely in Victorian Rustic Gothic and Federation Queen Anne styles. Wander around this sleepy suburb and stumble across hidden treasures like Arthur Circus - a quaint circular park surrounded by neatly-kept, pastel cottages.
The Waterfront You can't visit Hobart without catching at least a glimpse of its wonderful Waterfront. Lined with colonial buildings, wharves, maritime warehouses, and gently bobbing boats, it provides a tranquil yet bustling atmosphere for a stroll, a bite to eat or as part of a boat tour to the MONA.
I swung by Fish Frenzy one evening. This fish and chip shop is renowned for its fresh fish, hot seafood chowder and fab location on the historic Elizabeth Street Pier. It's so famous that TripAdvisor voted it its Travellers Choice in 2020, and Time Magazine once named it 'Arguably the best fish and chips in Australia'!
Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery Regrettably, I didn't spend as much time here as I would have liked. But in the time I did, I learnt a lot about Tasmania's natural history. The museum, located in a historic and significant building on the Waterfront, is kitted out in an airy and contemporary style inside and is excellent for kids and adults alike.
Food & Drink
Jackman & McRoss Situated in a quiet side street in the centre, Jackman & McRoss is an intimate cafe and bakery, and somewhat an institution in Hobart. Friendly service, tasty bakes and good coffee.
Mezethes Greek Taverna With a big focus on seafood, Mezethes has built up a reputation for the best Greek food in Hobart. The impressive Mezethes Seafood Platter is piled high with an array of seafood on offer including calamari, oysters, Tasmanian salmon, mussels, fresh fish fillets of the day and prawns served with a side of lemon roasted potatoes and accompanied by a generous serving of tartare sauce. Admittedly my eyes were bigger than my stomach on this occasion!
Just outside the centre
MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) Set on a vineyard-covered peninsula just north of the city, the MONA is the creation of flamboyant art collector David Walsh, who once said, "Art is all about sex and death". While I disagree with this statement, I think it reveals his creative and crazy thinking behind the gallery! I don't want to give too much away, but I came away from this place feeling as though I'd been on mild hallucinogens... Expect the weird, wild and wacky.
Whilst I was there I picked up some interesting food from one of the outdoor food vendors. Dusby's serves 'Fire-cooked flame-grilled lawn food: plenty of veggies, wholesome grains, and invasive species-meats'. I tucked into a Wild Meat Pita and a bowl of Fennel Salt and Pepper Calamari.
Cascades Female Factory In contrast, the Female Factory in the shadow of Mount Wellington is a sobering experience. Its name gives one a feeling of unease before you've even entered the empty courtyards of what was once one of Tasmania's largest female penal colonies. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and an essential part of Australia's history, the site once housed up to 12,500 women and children in poor conditions, often convicted of ridiculously petty crimes. While there's not much here for the little ones, a comprehensive self-guided audio tour or optional paid tours give a good insight into life at the site during the height of British convict transportation.
The Cascade Brewery is nearby and worth a visit for a bite of locally sourced food and a pint. Cascade Brewery is Australia's oldest, continually operating brewery. The brewery offers daily tours and a gorgeous bar/restaurant situated in beautifully-landscaped gardens.
Port Arthur Historic Site A visit to Port Arthur is certainly an all-day trip. The 146 hectare site, located about 60 miles southeast of the capital, gives in-depth understanding into the lives of convicts that journeyed over 13,000 miles from home to serve their sentence and set up new lives. Now part of the UNESCO-listed Australian Convicts Sites, the site is open to visitors who are free to explore the ruined buildings, learn of their history and pay their respect to those who lost their lives in the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, Australia's worst mass-shooting.
When I got back to the UK, I watched Nitram. The film, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2021, tells the true story of massacre perpetrator Martin Bryant. The cast includes Caleb Landry Jones (winner of Cannes Best Actor 2021) and Judy Davies (BAFTA, Emmy and Golden Globe winner for past roles), and is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video and BFI Player in the UK.
You can explore Hobart and the rest of Tasmania on our Tasmania - Wild Island State motorhome tour. Highlights include Port Arthur and the Tasman National Park, Freycinet National Park, St Helens and Georges Bay, Launceston– The Garden City, Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, Strahan – Gateway to the South West World Heritage National Park, The West Coast Wilderness Railway and the Gordon River Cruise.
Visual Design & Content Creation
Ben deals with all things design, working on the visual design of our annual guides, Destinations magazine, information leaflets, social media and email campaigns, and much more across the Alan Rogers, Rallies and Worldwide brands. He also produces written content for our blogs alongside our other contributors.More by Ben Tully
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