Visiting Hobart is like taking a step back to another time, a time when Australia was a penal colony. In fact Hobart is Australia’s second oldest city after Sydney, having been founded in 1804. Built around the harbour of Sullivan’s cove, you will find that many of the original buildings lining the harbour are still standing from that era. If you admire old architecture and a feel of an old world charm or have an interest in convict history, then Hobart is a fabulous place to explore. So what to see and do in Hobart you ask? Well, if you are here for an extended weekend as I was, then all of the below are easily achieved.
The waterfront is a bustling area in central Hobart. A great place to have a wander about, admiring the boats, the architecture of the buildings surrounding the harbour and history boards displayed in various sections of the harbour. The history boards give you an insight into what a particular area or building was significant for. There are also plenty of places to have a bite to eat or even some wine tasting at the Brooke Street Pier.
A historic area, filled with art galleries, restaurants, cheesemongers, wine bars and other artisan produce. The buildings that house these merchants are the original buildings from the 1800s, showing a fine example of colonial life. A great place to explore in and out of the buildings and down the alley ways. There are also plenty of restaurants and bars within this area.
The popular and busy Salamanca market is held every Saturday morning, come rain, hail or shine and is a must visit when in Hobart. Here you will find lot’s of Tasmanian products, such as local whiskey, cheese, lavender, arts & craft, jewellery and fresh food. Old fashioned bush bands, singers and instrumentalists will be playing as you walk through the well organised market and surrounds. You never know what you might find around the corner either, take a walk down the alleys in Salamanca Place and you might just find a band playing a secret gig.
If you are in Hobart then you must simply visit Mona – the Museum of Old and New Art. If you think museums are boring then Mona will smash that pre-conceived idea right out of the water. Mona is quirky, funny, bold and at times will just totally shock you. Most of all, Mona will leave a lasting impression on you. A must for art lovers or lovers of the unexpected.
A short walk from Salamanca Place and you will find yourself in the gorgeous little historic housing area of Battery Point. Precisely located in Hampden Road and some surrounding streets. Taking a walk through this area will have you imagining what it was like 200 years ago living in this area. The houses are all cute as a button. Once you are in the heart of Hampden Road you will find some of the nicest restaurants and cafes in Hobart. Don’t forget to take home some bakery treats from Jackman & McRoss located in this area.
St Davids Park
St Davids Park is an old park and the first cemetery in Hobart, dating way back to the original settlement in the early 1800s. The serene walled park is set amidst old english style gardens. Within the park is a memorial wall featuring the original grave stones from many notable Hobart founders and those who arrived on the first fleet. There are a few remaining monuments scattered throughout the park having been rescued after years of neglect in the late 1890s. There were also around 900 people buried here, some were moved to other cemeteries but for the most – are now lying peacefully under the lush green lawn. Quite an interesting thought you might ponder as you walk over the grass.
Day trips from Hobart
Hobart is a great base to explore the surrounding areas with the most popular day tours within three hours by car are:
- Wineglass Bay and Freycinet National Park
- East Coast wine region
- Boat tours exploring the rugged coastline and caves of Tasmania
- Port Arthur historic penal colony
- Scenic flights over the region
- Visit the historic village of Richmond
Where to Eat
There are some great places to eat whilst in Hobart, here are a few that I tried and recommend you try too.
Rockwall Bar and Grill in Salamanca Place if you are hankering for a good steak.
Smolt – great creative food and good for solo diners as there is a communal table.
Da Angelo – For authentic and delicious Italian food, make sure you book in advance as this place is popular every night of the week. Located in the historic district of Battery Point.
Jackman & McRoss – Great breakfast place and bakery.
Daci & Daci – Sweet treats, coffee and light lunches can be found in this little gem.
For dining with a view try Mures on the waterfront. Serving the freshest of Tasmanian seafood.
Where to stay
Hobart is not a large city but I would recommend that you stay around the waterfront area, Battery Point or the CBD. These three areas are all within easy walking distance to each other and where many of the tourist attractions are located.
Getting to Tasmania
There are two ways to get to Tasmania from the mainland of Australia – by air or by boat.
If you don’t have the luxury of time, lets say you are there for a weekend, then I would recommend flying into Hobart from one of the capital cities of Australia. At various times of the year there are also flights into Launceston as another option.
The Australian airlines of Jetstar, Virgin and Tiger all provide regular flights to Hobart. Depending on the time of year, you can get flights from (ex-Melbourne) for on average $130-150 AUS return. If you are flexible on dates, or you can book on the spur of the moment you can get flights even cheaper when the special deals come out. On occasion I have seen deals for as low as $29 one way via Jetstar (an incentive to be on their mailing list).
Getting from the airport to Hobart is pretty simple. You can either hire a car at the airport or an easy and economic way is to catch the Hobart airport shuttle. Tickets can be purchased on the bus and you will be taken directly to your hotel. The shuttle costs $18 one way or $32 return.
The other option is to take the ferry called the ‘Spirit of Tasmania‘ from Melbourne to Devonport. It’s an overnight ferry that allows you to take your car to your destination. If you have plenty of time to explore Tasmania as a whole, then taking your car is a far more cost efficient way of getting around. You can store all your luggage in your car whilst on the ferry and when it’s time to disembark, simply jump into your car and away you go.
Hobart is about a three and half hour drive from the ferry terminal.
The ferry departs all year round at 7.30 p.m. each night and arrives at Devonport at 6 a.m. the next day. Alternately there are double sails available between December and April which leaves at 9 a.m and 9 p.m each day from Melbourne.
Prices for the overnight ferry start at $48 (AUS) for an ocean recliner seat, right up to $508 for a deluxe cabin. There are other options available to suit all budgets.
Add from $83 each way for vehicle storage.