Tasmania. Where is it? I don’t think most people even know. Not that long ago I wouldn’t have known either. But today I can say it is one of the most amazing places I have ever been. And Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania, is definitely worth a visit. Let me tell you why I say Hobart, Tasmania – The Most Surprising Town in Australia.
Tasmania is Australia’s southernmost state. It’s an island too, about half the size of the state of Washington, an hour flight from Melbourne. Hobart is the capital city of Tasmania and is home to 198,000 people. The city of Hobart sits at latitude 43 south – which is equivalent to Milwaukee Wisconsin or Marseille France north. During our visit we rented a wonderful Airbnb in Hobart for an entire month over the Christmas holidays. Even though December is the beginning of summer in Australia, it never gets too hot in Hobart due to the southern exposure, and we had a little bit of everything in the weather department. It’s a perfect size city for getting around, and we had time to do so many wonderful things: from museums to hiking and more – Hobart, Tasmania – The Most Surprising Town in Australia.
Hobart, Tasmania – The Most Surprising Town in Australia, has a colonial and penal colony history but natives were here much earlier. Wikipedia says “The first European settlement in the Hobart area began in 1803 as a penal colony and defensive outpost. In 1804 it was moved to a better location at the present site of Hobart at Sullivans Cove, making it the second oldest city in Australia. Prior to British settlement, the area had been occupied for at least 8,000 years, but possibly for as long as 35,000 years, by the semi-nomadic Mouheneener tribe, a sub-group of the Nuenonne, or South-East tribe. The descendants of the indigenous Tasmanians now refer to themselves as ‘Palawa‘.”
Things to do in Hobart Tasmania
In this post I will share with you all the great things we discovered to do in the city of Hobart, or less than an hour from the city. Next week’s Friday blog post, I will expand more on all the incredible attractions more than hour outside of the city. But if you are only visiting Hobart, there is so very much to do without leaving the city Let’s talk about it.
Battery Point – one of Hobart’s oldest and best preserved neighborhoods just south of the CBD. Founded in 1818, Battery Point (so named from the cannons once positioned there) is perfect for a self-guided walking tour when visiting Hobart.
Hobart Wharf and Constitution Dock – a beautiful part of the city, this historic waterfront area is home to the fishing fleet as well as yachts and personal sailboats. Many tours leave from here and there are casual eateries and fine dining options. The cruise terminal is close by.
Cascades Female Factory Historic Site – not to be missed former site for female convicts who were transported from Britain beginning in the early 1800’s. This is a great place to begin learning about this bleak time in Australia’s history prior to visiting Port Author about an hour and a half from Hobart (more on that next week). Don’t miss this fascinating, sad but also intriguing UNESCO World Heritage Sight in Hobart.
MONA Museum of Old and New – Difficult to describe; weird, curious, eccentric. Definitely thought-provoking. I struggle to understand modern art…so some of it went over my capacity. The architecture however was fascinating. Even if you go away scratching your head, it still is worth a visit when in Hobart for its state-of-the-art concept. I also recommend arriving by ferry on the Derwent River from Hobart Harbor.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery – Wow. This museum was a real surprise right from the start when we realized it was free. Housed in a historic building near the original docks, TMAG is home to a wide range of exhibits from art to history and nature. I was particularly impressed with the aboriginal exhibits which I thought presented that story very well…despite how disturbing it can be. A very similar tale to the plight of the Native American.
Glow Tour with Lisa Ann – staying up past dark was worth it to do this unique tour. We walked through a city park and were astonished at the wildlife there. Using UV lights which don’t disturb the animals, we explored trees and found possums, endangered bandicoots, wallabies and pademelon. The platypus were elusive but regularly are seen after dark. A fun evening.
Parks & Gardens
Mount Wellington, now called kunanyi in respect to the original local people of the region – It’s a very easy drive to the top of kunanyi- Mount Wellington, about 40 minutes from Hobart. Certainly the top was chilly but worth it for the amazing views…incredible from 4400 feet.
Afterward we went back down to about 3500 feet where it was a bit warmer and did a lovely hike below the iconic Organ Pipes rock formation, and had a picnic and enjoyed so much bird life. This park is a must when in Hobart.
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens inside Queen’s Domain Park – we spent Christmas Day walking around this beautiful botanic garden – one of many we enjoyed in Australia. The well tended and diverse 17 hectare space is housed within the more wild Queen’s Domain Park. Consecutively , worth a stroll when in Hobart. Free too!
Intercity Cycleway – used for commuting and recreation both, this wonderful paved trail runs along the old railroad tracks from Hobart all the way to Claremont. About 16 miles and we used it regularly for our morning runs.
Salamanca Market – held every Saturday 8:30-3:00 through out the year, this huge outdoor market offers a wide variety of food, produce, gifts, clothing, arts and crafts. On Salamanca Street right near the wharf. The area is also home to wonderful shops, restaurants and historic sights.
Sunday Farm Gate – my favorite for locally grown and produced, this market is held every Sunday in the summer. Home to fresh bread, produce, cheese, honey and even gin and whiskey all locally made.
Hobart Twilight Market – Happening twice a month in the summer and once a month in the winter, the Hobart Twilight Market takes place near the waterfront and Franklin Pier. Albeit you’ll find lots of yummy options for dining as well as distillery options, crafts, honey and more. Live music. Dates vary so check the website.
Food and Restaurants
Because we had such a great kitchen in our Airbnb, and because we work hard to stay on budget, we actually did not eat out very often during our month in Hobart. But we did enjoy the following;
Street Eats – during Australia’s summer months (December – February) every Friday night at Franklin Square you’ll find Street Eats. This Friday night food truck festival is a great gathering place complete with music.
Breakfast -looking for a tasty breakfast in Hobart CBD? Look no further than Criterion. A unique and tasty menu and excellent coffee with great service and a good price.
Lunch – Cultura Espresso and Bistro is a perfect place for a quick late breakfast or lunch. Italian specialties with excellent coffee and wine too. Try the Chicken Panzanella Salad.
Dinner – We enjoyed dinner out at a handful of restaurants and can recommend all of these;
Da Angelo Italian – this highly rated restaurant in Battery Point serves spectacular food with wonderful service too. I had veal bianco and my husband had lasagna (his favorite) and we both were really happy. Da Angelo has a great local wine list, perfect with our meal.
Pearl & Co. – casual seafood eatery connected to the fish market and located right next to where the fresh fish comes in, a really delicious selection of seafood. Oyster, calamari, blue-eye trevally and scallop pie all were perfect.
Room For A Pony – it’s a funny name but a very popular spot for both indoor and outdoor dining and perfect for groups in North Hobart. We enjoyed a delicious salad and pizza. Simple and family friendly.
Poncho Villa – we read such good reviews about this Mexican restaurant we had to try it. Consequently, Poncho Villa is so popular it even requires a reservation. The Mexican food was authentic and delicious, while being creative too. I’m glad we went!
Landscape Restaurant and Grill – fine dining at it’s best. This beautiful restaurant on historic Hunter Street was a perfect way to end our month in Hobart. Beautiful steak, fish, wine and service…everything you need for a perfect celebration or night out.
Cascade Brewery Tour – it’s not free but it’s really interesting to tour the oldest brewery in Australia. Fascinating building and history and your ticket includes a lovely tasting at the end. Tickets $35 Aussie (about $20 US)
While in Hobart, we made a point to visit several local microbreweries. I can recommend all of them if you are a beer lover like we are. Definitely check out T-Bone, Shambles, Deep South, Captain Bligh, Hobart Brewery and Overland.
Theatre Royale – this beautiful historic theatre, built in 1837, has events through out the year. While we were in Hobart we enjoyed a fun and festive annual Christmas show. Check out offerings when you visit.
Saint David’s Anglican Cathedral – this beautiful and historic church hosts many events throughout the year open to the public and during our stay in Hobart we attended a free (donations welcome) holiday musical event that was truly spectacular. We loved being there with all the locals enjoying the music of the holidays in a venue where the acoustics were heavenly.
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens – in the summer the Theatre Royal presents shows outdoors at the Botanical Gardens. We enjoyed a fun production of Pinocchio the week after News Years.
Richmond is a tiny colonial town about 30 min drive from Hobart and definitely worth a visit. Luckily we went in the morning, before the tour busses arrived, and enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Czeg Cafe. Secondly we followed a self guided walk around the village following the city’s online guide.
During our walk we visited the well preserved and interesting Richmond Gaol as well as the convict-built stone bridge – built in 1823 and still in use. Richmond has some fun shops and many other restaurants as well. In the region around Richmond you will find multiple wineries. We visited Nocton Winery and enjoyed a tasting – taking two bottles home for our holiday celebrations.
For such a small town Hobart is home to large variety of events and festivals throughout the year. See the full list here. While we were visiting, one of the biggest events of the the year, Taste of Summer , took place the week after Christmas and first week of January on the waterfront in Salamanca. The party on New Year’s Eve was a great fit for us. Certainly the event has so much food, beverages, excellent music – and on NYE front row seats to the 9:30pm fireworks (family and old people friendly) and the midnight fireworks as well!
See More Tasmania
Although I spent a month in Hobart, you could explore the city easily in three or four days. Therefore giving you time to see so much of the island of Tasmania, if you don’t have a full month like we did.
However, next week I’ll tell you about our adventures around the island of Tasmania…some day trips from Hobart (more than an hour) including Bruny Island and Port Arthur. Additionally we also did some overnight trips including Freycinet National Park and Cradle Mountain. I hope you will come back to learn all about that next week. Tasmania is an astonishing place. I think I’m in love. Meanwhile, thanks for reading my post Hobart, Tasmania – The Most Surprising Town in Australia.
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