Hobart is the capital city of Tasmania and is located in the South of the island, with a history dating back to 1803 when it was first established by the British Colonists, bringing with them their convicts. (See History).
The city is located on the River Derwent which is more like a harbour, with inlets and bays and the city spread out around it. The main city centre is laid out in a grid pattern of streets with the main shopping mall being off Elizabeth Street that runs from Elizabeth St Pier on the River up past the GPO and Hobart Town Hall.
It is easy to walk around the main city centre or take a Ferry Cruise from the wharves to see more of the River. One of the main tourist areas is located at Salamanca Place, near Parliament House, where the Salamanca Markets are also held on Saturdays. The cobbled area of Salamanca Place is in front of a row of sandstone warehouse buildings, built in the 1830’s using the stone from a cliff behind them. These warehouses were initially built to warehouse grains, whale oil, wool and other goods that were being delivered by the clipper ships that moored at the wharf, and later W.D Peacock produced tons of fruit jams here, and later Henry Jones produced their jams too under the brand IXL (I excel). This part of Hobart is a hive of activity on Saturdays when the markets are happening, but also a great place to have a coffee, check out the stores and other activities that are located here. Also look for the Salamanca Arts Centre to see what exhibitions are happening. This is located near Kelly Steps.
If you climb up Kelly Steps this will take you to Battery Point and the Narryna Heritage Museum (101 Hampden Rd – Open at weekends) and towards the river is Princes Park. Battery Point is so named, as it was where cannons were positioned in the early days. Further along Hampden Rd heading back towards the city is another house museum, Markree at 145 Hampden Rd, built in 1926 in the Arts and Craft style. To the left is Anglesea Barracks on Davey Street built in 1814 with the Military Museum of Tasmania located in the old gaol building built in 1847.
The Allport Library and Museum of fine Arts is located at 91 Murray Street, and here you will find an outstanding display of books, paintings, 18 and 19 century paintings, china, silverware and other interesting exhibits.
Heading back on Davey St towards the wharf area and you will walk past St David’s Park, the Elizabeth St Pier and you will come to the GPO, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Maritime Museum, Federation Concert Hall and the Gasworks Shopping Village. The Theatre Royal is close by on Campbell Street. Head further up Campbell Street and you will come to the Penitentiary Chapel and Courts on the corner of Brisbane Street. This building was designed by John Lee Archer in 1830 with the Tower built in 1832. The building houses the Courts, but also has cells below it, tunnels and even a gallows – with tours providing a great insight into the criminal justice system and the convict era.
Back at the wharf area – look for Brooke St Wharf for the Ferry that takes you to MONA Gallery. The MONA GALLERY (Museum of Old and New Art) is located at 651-655 Main Rd Berridale where the Moorilla Winery is also located. It is one of Tasmania’s greatest attractions, and it is best to allow lots of time to see all that is there.
Hobart also has a casino – Wrest Point Hotel and Casino, off Sandy Bay Rd about half an hour from the city centre. The casino was built in 1973, and continues to be a landmark in Hobart with its multi storey building lit up at night. It has a number of bars, gaming rooms and restaurant facilities attracting large numbers of people each day and night.
Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula is without doubt quite an amazing place to see and hear the stories of its past. The massive size or the prison, the stories recounting the hardships encountered by the convicts, and the isolated location make this a highly memorable experience. There are more than 30 buildings to see and explore. (SEE History). Also stop at Eaglehawk Nest to see this part of the story of Port Arthur, and if you have time head a little further south of Port Arthur to see the Remarkable Cave next to the beach. The Tasman Peninsula National Park has some spectacular coastal scenery and walks. Some of the places to see are the Blowhole, Tessellated Pavements, Tasman’s Arch, Devil’s Kitchen and Cape Raoul, Cape Hauy and Cape Pillar. Cape Raoul for example has massive pencil like shafts of dolerite rock pointing straight up to the sky- 165 million years old. Truly an incredible sight to see.
Coal Mines Historic Site (1833-48) this is located also on the Tasman Peninsula. (Saltwater Creek Road, Little Norfolk Bay Tel: 1800 659 101). This is where some of the worst behaved convicts were forced to work digging coal in tunnels that were up to 300 feet below ground. In 1840 there were around 600 convicts, overseers and officers stationed here. Today, all that remains of the stone buildings are the ruins of the guard stations, chapel, cell blocks and Catechrist house building. The ruins and their position next to the water where the wharf was located are much less preserved than Port Arthur, which has perhaps a greater sense of discovery.
In South Hobart is the Cascades Female Factory at 16 Degraves St, about 15 minutes from the city. This was the work house for female convicts, and provides a great insight into life as a female convict.
It is also close to the Cascade Brewery which has tours too. This is Australia’s oldest operating Brewery and the visitor centre is at 140 Cascade Rd in South Hobart. It was built in 1824 and its beer is one of Australia’s best.
The Cadbury Chocolate Visitor’s centre is up the Derwent River at Claremont (100 Cadbury Rd) where you can learn all about chocolate. Also in Claremont take a drive down Lady Clarke Drive to see Claremont House and gardens on 5 acres of ground. It was built in 1839 and is open on Saturdays. If you like seeing old houses, also take a drive around New Town and see Runnymede at 61 Bay Rd – a whaler’s house and cottage with its own coach house. (Tel: 62781269 for opening times).
Government House is located on the Queen’s Domain at Pavilion Point. This stunning building was built in 1855 and while you might catch a glimpse of it from the Queen’s Domain or the road, it is worth taking a look at the website to see some of the building’s architecture up close – see www.govhouse.tas.gov.au .The Queen’s Domain is a large park near the city and river. Here you will also find the Botanical Gardens on Lower Domain Road with a number of different plants to see, including ones from Macquarie Island and the Antarctic.
About 11km from the city heading south on the Channel Highway, look for the Shot Tower. This 58 metre high remarkable tower was built in 1870 by Joseph Moir, who used the height to drop molten lead off the side and through a series of processes make lead shot for rifle shooting. At the time making lead shot was a highly secretive process. The expression “fill him full of lead” dates back to these times when lead shot was used. Also nearby are three small beaches on the river, where there are walking tracks and cormorants, lorikeets and wattle birds to be seen. Also see the Alum cliffs here too.
One of the great attractions of Hobart is the fact that it is easy to get out of the city and head into the country in almost any direction and just wander wherever the road takes you to discover your own special journey. There are lots of small villages on the outskirts of Hobart.
We hope that you have a great time in Tasmania.