Many, many years ago I spent 3 weeks backpacking through Tasmania. As I haven’t been since and my husband has never set foot on the island, we chose Hobart as the destination for our 30th anniversary trip this year.
A weekend to Hobart
Harbour of Hobart with its historical buildings that have been turned into trendy upmarket hotels and restaurants
The opinions about Hobart tend to be diverse. Some pull their nose up and others have fallen in love with it. For those whose geography knowledge is poor. Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, an island south of mainland Australia and it is one of the states of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Abel Tasman discovered the island in the 17th century and gave it the name ‘Van Diemen’. The English renamed the colony in 1856 to honour its original finder, Abel Tasman. As a Dutch person I am often curious what Australia would be like if the Dutch would have taking ownership. They discovered Australia but left it for what it was.
Anyway enough history!
So what did we discover in Hobart that is worth writing about? When I was there many years ago in 1987 I found Hobart had the most charm off all Australian cities and I still do now.
Salamanca Market and Battery Point – historical Hobart
When I mentioned Hobart to people, most of them knew about the well known markets on Saturday morning called Salamanca Markets. They were already there in 1987 when I was in Hobart, have over 300 stall holders and are still going strong. They are definitely worth exploring.
Salamanca Markets have been around for decades. Over 300 stalls with everything you can dream of…
From the markets you can climb some steep stairs up to Kelly street and this will lead you in to Battery Point, the birthplace of Hollywood actor Errol Flynn. Battery point, ‘The Rocks’ of Hobart, is well preserved and is lovely to wander through.
Make sure you make a stop at a wonderful bakery that is open every day. We googled cafes that were open early on Sunday morning and the result was none according the online info.
Jackman and Ross, baker of French style pastries and yummy breakfasts open at 7 am in the morning!!
Well, we found this little treasure called Jackman and McRoss. It was open fully stocked with yummy pastries, breads and an appetising breakfast menu from 7 am, even on a Sunday. Its little ‘sister’ in the city of Hobart is open early throughout the week but closed in the weekend.
Mount Wellington, Hobart
We were dying for a hot coffee around 7 am on Sunday as we had just returned from a trip up to Mt. Wellington, 1271 meters high. This excursion was a rather spontaneous once we saw that the weather would be clear on Sunday morning. The views therefore promised to be spectacular.
Sunrise over Hobart from the top of Mount Wellington on a clear but fresh, 9 degrees, day
Be aware of the changing micro climate on the top of the mountain, though. One moment it can be clear and before know you are surrounded by a layer of thick fog. It was rather fresh and it was only autumn so prepare well for the colder winter month.
We concocted that it could be worthwhile to rent a car on Saturday afternoon so we could drive up to Mt Wellington to see the sunrise. It seemed a bit tricky to do without transport and taxis would cost a fortune. So would any organised excursion!
Hiring a car from Saturday afternoon 4 pm for 1 day was around $35. We chose an agency that had a drop off point at the airport so we could avoid a taxi fare of almost $60 back to the airport. In the end we saw Mt Wellington, historical village Richmond and got ourselves to the airport for a total of $65. Worth considering…
Richmond Bridge – Australia’s oldest known large stone arch bridge completed in 1825 and spanning the Coal river
Mona – Hobart’s pride
Then the MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. Located upstream on the Derwent river it is worth taking a boat trip to this interesting and very different art gallery. Now there are boat trips and luxury boat trips. We enjoyed the trip to the museum while sipping on a glass of sparkling and sampling a variety of tapas. Very classy!
The museum itself is interesting for a variety of reasons. First of all its founder and owner seems to be a character in itself. Do your own research!
The setting of MONA is quite special. You have no idea about its hidden secrets.
Secondly the building is amazing, built into rocks and a maze of levels, corridors and rooms all underground it seems.
Thirdly you can finish off the experience by a wine tasting at Moorilla Estate situated right next to the museum. All in all an amazing experience and a must when visiting Hobart.
Quite an amazing object. A carpet that seem to go fluid. It is huge and impressive!
The collection is a compilation of old and new as the name suggest. You should keep in mind that the museum is based on a private collection of the owner and founder. So if you are after Rembrandts, Monets and Van Gogh’s you may not find them.
A day trip to Port Arthur
As we were 5 days in Hobart we wanted to include Port Arthur, a huge former convict settlement with over 30 buildings built in the 18th & 19th century. We found an excursion that combined a visit to Port Arthur and a boat trip along the outside coast line of the Tasman Peninsula. Probably a bit pricey for some but oh so worth every dollar.
Spectacular coastline with scenes suitable for Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit
The swells on the ocean are not for the faint hearted and everyone gets a tablet against seasickness. Also you must wear a type of rain/wind coat that covers you from top till toe. The boat trip takes 3 hours and the views of the coast line are ‘in one word’ spectacular.
They certainly can compete with the much more famous ‘Great Ocean Road’ in Victoria. There are many chances to take pictures and admire the dozens of seals sunbathing on the rocks.
Dozens of seals sunbathing on the rocks of Tasman Island
Port Arthur is an amazing site. There is a lot to explore and it is easy to while away half a day. You can do tours including ‘ghost’ tours at night.
The main building at Port Arthur. The site is much more than a prison for convicts.
What else I liked in Hobart
- Other things I liked in Hobart are the good quality food, seafood, beers, whiskeys and wine. Sometimes a bit pricey, but…
- The fact that waiters can be over forty and professional. So European as it happens to be a career over there….
- The visit to the Cascade Brewery and the 3 km walk back to Hobart centre along the pretty rivulet.
- I love the fresh air, the ability to enjoy a twilight of over an hour surrounded by beautiful skies, NO mozzies nor humidity. I live in Queensland so such things are a novelty for us.
- The Friday night food markets, right in the middle of town. If we would have known, we would have made sure to be hungry that day!
All in all, Hobart is a very pleasant place to be. It offers enough for foodies, lovers of wine, beer and whiskey tastings, art, history and stunning natural beauty.
So I challenge the negative opinions and the naysayers. I believe you either did not look around you or you were blinded by pre-conceived opinions. In either case you missed the boat and the opportunity to have a wonderful experience.
So next time, make sure you read the reviews!