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Salty sailors city Hobart blends Australia's past and present

March 26, 2007
Salty sailors city Hobart blends Australia's past and present

Hobart hugs the winding Derwent and city buildings cluster around its docks.

Hobart is arguably Australias most historically intact city.

Australias southernmost capital is the second oldest city in the nation after Sydney.

It has a colonial past that shows everywhere, from the heritage buildings of the city and the cottages of Battery Point to the sailors city atmosphere of the wharves. A cruise, or drive to the summit of Mt Nelson or Mt Wellington, reveals the maritime focus.

Hobart blends heritage, lifestyle, scenery and culture. It is shaped and defined by water.

On regatta days bright sails crowd the Derwent River that laps at Hobarts doorstep. Mount Wellington stands sentinel overall, its peak often snow capped in winter.

The best way to see central Hobart and the immediate surrounds of this seafaring town is on foot.

Hobart Historic Tours lives up to its name
GoSeeAustralia's Agnes and Nick love Salamanca Place and Battery Point Hobart.
The first European settlement in the Hobart area began in 1803 as a penal colony and defensive outpost at Risdon Cove on the eastern shores of the Derwent River. So guided experiences like Hobart Historic Tours has plenty of history to work with. Hobart is second only to Sydney in the depth of its convict and colonial heritage and specific tours like Hobart Historic Walk give an introduction to the character of Australia's early settlement.

The tour is an easy walk and is wheelchair accessible. Hobart is a city defined by its geographical position, history and heritage. Classical examples of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture abound throughout the city. The one an a half hour tour starts at the Hobart Travel Centre, cnr. Davey and Elizabeth Sts, Hobart.

Battery Point is unique in Australia and world famous for its authenticity. The Tour includes St George's Church and Arthur Circus. Named in honour of Govenor Arthur, the quirky Arthur Circus is a particular example of early colonial architecture.

Between Kellys Steps and Hampden Road, Arthur Circus is a circle of old, single frontage cottages dating from the earliest days of Old Hobart Town.

This hour and half guided historic experience starts at Kelly's steps in Salamanca Place. This narrow flight of steps joins Salamanca Place to Kelly Street in Battery Point.

Then in a step back to a murky underworld past the Old Hobart Pub Tour explores a time of brothels, smugglers, convicts and grog. This tour, which starts from the Hobart Travel Centre, is not recommended for children. The Old Hobart Pub Tour is suitable only for smaller groups, due to the small size of the pubs themselves, Hobart Historic Tours says.

Driving is a pleasant surprise with light traffic and good roads. But be aware that many of the city street are one-way and put in some planning before setting off.

Bus services are excellent and allow easy access to the city, and suburbs on both sides of the Derwent.

Hobarts busy arts scene takes in art, craft, music and theatre. Enjoy Irish jigs or pub rock, a flutter at the Wrest Point casino, street buskers, string quartets, and theatrical performances both classic and contemporary.

In Hobarts galleries and studios, artists and craftspeople make bold and beautiful statements in pigments, glass, pottery and fabrics.

Hobart is a city of fine restaurants, bustling markets, fun, festivals and entertainment. Its a city of history, where Battery Points first cottages peep shyly at each other across a circle of green in places like Arthur Circus and graceful old trees shelter the manicured lawns of heritage parks and gardens.

On Saturdays, Salamanca Market is must do. Call in to the galleries and cafs of Salamanca Place. Cruise the Derwent River or enjoy the short drive to the Signal Station on Mt Nelson or the Shot Tower at Taroona.

Biking to the top Mt Wellington. Tourism Tas & Nick Osborne
Biking to the top Mt Wellington. Tourism Tas Nick Osborne

The 1271 metre Mt Wellington, is only 22km from the city centre. Visit the historic town of Richmond and explore the Coal River Valley and its boutique wineries.

The Botanical Discovery Centre at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens intrigue children and adults and the National Trusts Old Hobart Gaol in Campbell Street links to penal history.

Chocoholics should visit the Cadbury factory at Claremont and beer lovers will appreciate the Cascade Brewery in South Hobart. (There are guided tours, but bookings are essential).

Hobart must see do

  • Take in superb views of Hobart from Mt Wellington, Mt Nelson Signal Station and Rosny Hill, just across the Tasman Bridge.
  • Visit Richmond, with Australias oldest preserved colonial convict gaol, Australias oldest bridge, Australias oldest Catholic church,
  • Old Hobart Town Model Village, antique shops, art craft galleries and charming tea rooms.
  • Get close to Tasmanian devils, quolls, echidnas, wombats, koalas and more at Bonorong Park Wildlife Centre, Brighton.

The Shot Tower Taroona Tourism Tas & Richard Eastwood
The Shot Tower Taroona Tourism Tas Richard Eastwood

Visit Salamanca Market and Salamanca Place (Saturday market, 9 am 3 pm; 9 am 2 pm in winter). The 1830s sandstone warehouses are home to galleries, studios, restaurants and cafs.

Experience Antarctic Adventure in Salamanca Square and visit the Australian Antarctic Division at Kingston.

Admire the Georgian cottages of Battery Point stroll around Arthur Circus, where Hobarts oldest houses stand.

Take a coach tour of Hobart by day. See the lights of Hobart from Rosny lookout or the summit of Mt Nelson on an evening coach tour.

  • See Hobarts heritage buildings with a self-guided walking map or on an escorted Historic Hobart walk.
  • Stroll through Hobarts parks and gardens St Davids Park, Waterworks Reserve and Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.
  • Take a Ghost Tour at The Old Hobart Gaol in Campbell Street.
  • Taste Hobart tour Cascade Brewery, Tasmanian Distillery and Gasworks Village, Cadbury chocolate factory and Island Produce fudge factory.

I want it Salamanca Market. Tourism Tas and Nick  Osborne
I want it Salamanca Market. Tourism Tas and Nick Osborne

  • Wander around Hobarts waterfront the working port, the Old Wharf and Hunter Street, Sullivans Cove and Constitution Dock.
  • Visit museums Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Transport, Maritime and Allport museums, Narryna Heritage Museum and the Moorilla Museum of Antiquities.
  • Take a spectacular scenic flight from Cambridge Airport over the Tasman Peninsula, East Coast, Port Davey and Tasmanias Southwest wilderness.

Hobart and its surrounds have plenty to do free or at low cost.

  • The Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race fills the docks with yachts and salty characters at New Year.
  • The Royal Hobart Regatta in February is a spectacle of graceful yachts and hard driving racing crews.
  • Hobarts interesting shopping arcades are a good window shopping experience.
  • Hobart is interesting on both sides of the Derwent River. Bellerive has the Bluff Historic Site Fort, complete with cannons. Bellerive Village is historically interesting. Along Cambridge Road are buildings dating from 1842. Get a historic walk brochure from the local newsagency.
  • The Hobart Town Hall Tour in Macquarie St. is free. It is a Tasmanian treasure.
  • In Hobart the State Library of Tasmania at 91 Murray St., displays fine arts, porcelain, glass and silver, rare books, manuscripts, prints and maps.
  • The W.L. Crowther Library has salty scrimshaw and other whaling and nautical artefacts, historical medical instruments and Tasmanian art works.
  • The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery at 40 Macquarie St., has Colonial and Contemporary art, there is a Tasmanian aboriginal collection.
  • Fossils, coins, zoology, anthropology, history, botany are covered. There are free tours. The museum is an excellent introduction to Tasmanian cultural and natural heritage.

Hoberts Wooden Boat Festival Tourism Tas and  Roger Lovell
Hobert's Wooden Boat Festival Tourism Tas and Roger Lovell

  • Walk through Battery Point, Hobarts oldest area.

See Hobarts heritage buildings with a self-guided walking map.

Visit nearby Richmond, 27 km away - cross Australias oldest bridge.

The nearby suburb of Sandy Bay has excellent walks along the Derwent.

The John Elliott Classics Museum University of Tasmania, Churchill Ave, Sandy bay has ancient art and artefacts of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Etruria and Rome. Check opening times.

  • Australian Antarctic Division on the Channel Hwy (B68), Kingston. There is a public display of Antarctic artefacts, photos and maps.
  • Mount Nelson Signal Station at 700 Nelson Rd., Mount Nelson has superb views of the Derwent Estuary. The Truganini Reserve adjoins the signal station.

Quirky Arthur Circus Battery Point Hobart. Tourism Tas & Geoff Murray
Quirky Arthur Circus Battery Point Hobart. Tourism Tas Geoff Murray

  • The 1271 metre Mount Wellington, which is the backdrop to the city, demands a trip to the summit. In winter there is snow. There are a number of walks ranging from easy to demanding.
  • Seven Mile Beach is a good spot for a swim in the summer. Cross the bridge over the Derwent and head for Hobart Airport. Pittwater Road leads to a 127 hectares reserve. Horse riding, swimming and windsurfing are popular. There is a visitor information centre.
  • Hobart has many antique, art, museum, market, festival and heritage experiences at low or no cost.
  • The Taste of Tasmania and Hobart Summer Festival entertainment link to the annual classic Sydney-Hobart Yacht race at New Year.
  • Around Salamanca Place and Square there are many galleries like, Salamanca Arts centre housed in five Georgian Warehouses on the waterfront, Handmark, Gallery in the Square and DaDaTa Gallery.

Richmond etches fine Georgian images

Park the caravan in one of the parks in Hobart's suburbs. They are between about 14km to 7km from the CBD and day tour to Richmond, about 30 minutes from Hobart. Richmond etches images of the past for visitors with its fine Georgian architecture.

The idyllic Coal River meanders alongside the village and underneath Richmond Bridge.The bridge is the oldest in Australia. Convicts built it out of locally quarried sandstone in 1823.

Douglas Mawson statue Tourism Tas and Nick Osborne
Douglas Mawson statue Tourism Tas and Nick Osborne

Once Richmond was a key military post and convict station between Hobart and Port Arthur, but the Sorell Causeway bypassed the town and left it mostly undeveloped for more than a century.Now the value of its streets and buildings count as Heritage Gold.

In the narrow cells of Richmond Gaol, Tasmanias convict past seems real.

The gaol is a 'must see'. It is the oldest penal settlement standing in Australia, older even than the Port Arthur penal settlement.

The gaol is much the same as at the height of its development in 1840.

The gaols history from 1825 involved bushrangers, the gaoling of local aboriginals, without charge, overcrowding, escapes and floggings.

The freestone cottages, which line the village main street, are the galleries and cafs of today, with the glow of watercolours and ceramic glazes, or the warm waft of fresh baking. Baking is seriously skilled in Richmond with preparation starting at 9pm the night before for next days baking.

Richmond Arms Hotel Tourism Tas and Nick Osborne
Richmond Arms Hotel Tourism Tas and Nick Osborne

Saddlers Court Gallery, built in 1846 has seen service as a shop, grocery store and saddlery. It is now a Tasmanian fine art and craft gallery showing the work of more than 100 Tasmanian artists and crafts people.

The gallery aims go further than presenting what is fashionable or sells best. It reflects Richmond, and selects and displays items that speak of Tasmania.

Studied or spontaneous, each work interprets an aspect of the island. Collectively they say something about Tasmania.

There is an old-fashioned lolly shop glass jars filled with the colours of traditional confectionary from Tasmanian, Australian suppliers and around the world wait to whet the palate. Ice cream rounds out the sweet experience with more than 30 flavours - mostly Tasmanian.

A fun thing to do is dress in period costume and add the results to the wall of honour at home.

Millhouse on the Bridge BB, on the east bank of the Coal River, overlooks the historic six-arch Richmond Bridge.

The BB, with its massive rough-hewn eucalypt beams and convict-made bricks, was originally a steam mill - one of four mills in Richmond, which in the 19th century was the granary for Australia's first two colonies: Van Diemen's Land (later to become Tasmania) and New South Wales. Both the National Trust and the National Estate classify the property.

It is the only mill still standing in Richmond and its position adjacent to Australia's oldest bridge gives it unique appeal.

Saddlers Court  Richmond Tourism Tas and Nick Osborne
Saddlers Court Richmond Tourism Tas and Nick Osborne

Built 30 years after the historic bridge was completed, Millhouse sits in a romantic garden of majestic old trees and colourful perennials with a private river frontage shaded by huge silver poplars.

Australian landscape painter John Eldershaw was so attracted by the mill he converted it into his own private residence and studio in the 1920's.

Over the road from Millhouse is St John's, the oldest Catholic Church in Australia.

In the Coal Valley, on both sides of Richmond, are some of the finest boutique wineries in Australia, specialising in cool climate varieties such as pinot noir, riesling and chardonnay.

There is an authentic model of Hobart as it was in the 1820s at multi-award winning Old Hobart Town Historical Model Village.

More than 60 buildings and about 400 period figurines give an immediate insight into the way things were.

The attention to detail, which has come from modelling from original plans, extends to Beech trees, which have been grown in Bonsai style. Old Hobart Town provides an excellent introduction to Hobart and Tasmanias early years

Richmond Bridge Tourism Tas and Tom  Keating
Richmond Bridge Tourism Tas and Tom Keating

Mrs Curries House (c1820) is one of Richmonds treasurer chests of early colonial buildings and homes.

The house is a mix of 1820s rammed earth colonial cottage and 1850's Georgian elegance. The house exudes history, heritage and hospitality.

The Tasting House offers exquisite Tasmanian flavours.They include a range of local Coal River Valley wines, oils, sauces, mustards, cheese, jams, fruit wines and vinegars.

The Tasting House is in the Bridge Inn Mews, behind Saddlers Court Gallery. It has been established in what was the original coach-house for the Bridge Inn.

Cheese, bread, wine, octopus, olives and other gourmet products make the ideal ingredients for a picnic by the river. Or take the eat-in mealalternative.

Editors Note: also see

Editors Note: Also see:

Peppercorn Gallery Richmond Tourism Tas and Nick Osborne
Peppercorn Gallery Richmond Tourism Tas and Nick Osborne

Cascade Brewery. Tourism Tas & Richard Eastwood
Cascade Brewery. Tourism Tas Richard Eastwood

Festival of Voices Hobart Tourism Tas & Peter Whyte
Festival of Voices Hobart Tourism Tas Peter Whyte

Royal Tas Botanical Gardens Tourism Tas & Andrew Ross
Royal Tas Botanical Gardens Tourism Tas Andrew Ross

Shipwrights Arms Battery Point. Tourism Tas & Garry Moore
Shipwrights Arms Battery Point. Tourism Tas Garry Moore

Wrest Point Casino Hobart. GoSeeAustralia pic.
Wrest Point Casino Hobart. GoSeeAustralia pic.