Hobart & Surrounds
Hobart from Mt Wellington, Tas. Photo credit: Rob Burnett/Tourism Tasmania. All rights reserved
Hobart & Surrounds
Reel off the names of Australian cities and chances are Hobart will forever be at the end of the line, like the last child to get picked at sports day. Yet to those who love their culture, food and arts, Hobart has a growing reputation.
Australia’s southernmost capital city is also its second oldest. The state capital of Tasmania, Hobart may not be much to look at – there’s a distinct lack of imposing Opera Houses and Harbour Bridges – but here on the banks of the Derwent River, in the shadow of the mighty Mt Wellington (1,271m, if you’re counting) there’s much to enjoy.
We’d suggest you give yourself 2-3 days to explore Hobart’s attractions properly.
Things to do in Hobart
Hobart’s oldest suburb is named after the guns that were placed here in 1818 to deter the French from stopping by (see sidebar). It’s full of charming old buildings and there’s a real sense of history about the place. You can explore by yourself but the tour’s worthwhile.
Cascade Brewery, South Hobart
Australia’s oldest brewery was established in 1832 and is a place of pilgrimage for ale lovers. You’ll need to book the tour in advance – and be aware there are a lot of steps. The brewery advises wearing flat, enclosed shoes and long trousers.
The city’s bustling waterfront is an appealing mix of cafés, restaurants, shops, and music. Not so much a ‘thing to do in Hobart’ but an essential place to be.
Maritime Museum of Tasmania
Inevitably, the history of Tasmania is built on a close relationship with the sea. You can explore that history here.
Botanical Discovery Centre
You’ll find thousands of exotic plants at the centre, which is near the Tasman Bridge.
This busy waterfront is great for a stroll. At the floating stalls around Constitution Dock you’ll be able to sample the most southerly fish and chips on earth.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Hobart’s oldest building houses aboriginal displays and relics from its colonial past.
The hour long Penitentiary Chapel and Criminal Courts tours explore the grimmer aspects of Hobart’s history – with plenty to send a chill down your spine. Booking is essential.
The Female Factory
There can’t be many attractions (in Hobart or anywhere else) with such a provocative, emotive name. This was where Hobart’s female convicts were incarcerated and the stories you’ll find within are fascinating. It’s near the Cascade Brewery so combine the two tours for a full, varied day. Booking is essential.
Tasmanian Cricket Museum
The Bellerive Oval tour includes a visit to the dressing rooms, as well as a tour of the Oval itself.
Mt Field National Park
Stunning mountain scenery, waterfalls, alpine moorlands, lakes and rainforests create a wonderful park full of contrasts. Great for an overnight stay and, if you time it right, skiing. 80km from Hobart.
Cadbury Chocolate Factory
If you thought the only Cadbury factory was in Birmingham, think again. Watch chocolate being made, and stock up on samples and cut-price goodies. 15km north of Hobart city centre.
You can drive the 13 miles to the peak – and it’s a staggering view when you get there.
Port Arthur Historic Site
12,000 convicts served sentences here in what was described as a “living hell.” 60km from Hobart, one of Tasmania’s premier tourist attractions will demand a good four hours of your time.
No stranger to suffering, the town of Port Arthur was also the scene of the “Port Arthur massacre” in 1996, where 36 people were killed by a lone gunman.
At the turn of the 19th Century nothing, it seems, concerned the British more than a) how to expand the Empire; and b) the French.
The founding of Hobart was a fine example of both concerns in action. French explorers were active in the South Pacific. At the same time, the problem of what to do with Britain’s convicts continued to cause concern.
In 1804 the answer was to create a penal colony and defensive outpost at Hobart that extended the reach of Empire and kept a wary eye on the French.
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