Hobart in Tasmania has a friendly atmosphere and a colonial charm. Established in 1804, it is the second oldest city in Australia and also the most picturesque. Formerly called Van Diemen’s Land, it was built when 35 convicts and a dozen soldiers were sent to the island to found a penal colony and to prevent the arrival of the French.
What to do & see in Hobart
This colony soon went out of control. The food was so poor that Lieutenant Colonel Collins was forced to release prisoners to go kangaroo hunting! Other detainees escaped and became bushrangers, regularly terrifying small villages. Nevertheless, the city managed to become prosperous in the 1830s with the arrival of whalers.
With more than 226,000 residents today, Hobart offers visitors a real journey back in time. Here’s what you can discover if you go there ..
Formerly a village of sailors, this neighbourhood is today the historic city centre. Its colonial houses and small restaurants make it a popular place for tourists. Perched on the hill, Battery Point was also strategic observation point in case of invasion. The guns and the promontory still bear witness to past fears.
The district of Salamanca is situated between the port and Battery Point. It represents the heart of the city and its artistic centre. Many galleries, pubs and restaurants gather on this square. Every Saturday morning, the famous Salamanca Market takes place. With more than 250 stalls, you will find local crafts, gastronomy, and clothes for all budgets.
Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
Hosted in the oldest building of the city (1808), exhibitions let you discover the colonial past of the island, the history of the Aboriginals and the Tasmanian tiger. (40 Macquarie St – free – open from 10am to 5pm)
Located on the Tasman Highway (2km from the city centre), this park has more than 6,000 plant species, a Japanese garden and a sub-Antarctic house that reproduces the climate and vegetation of Macquarie Island (half way between Tasmania and Antarctica).
Cadbury Chocolate Factory
Unfortunately, the factory is not open to visitors, but a representative will tell you about the manufacturing process and give you some free samples. 100 Cadbury Rd, Claremont – $ 4 / pers – Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm.
Hobart Practical tips
- You can easily walk around in the city centre.
- Metro Tasmania bus network. Tickets and all info are available at the central post office. Fares range from $ 3.20 to $ 5.36 depending on the zone. You can also get a GreenCard that you can recharge depending on your use (prices are cheaper with this card).
- Art Bikes: This concept allows you to rent a bike for the day at the Tasmanian Museum & Art Galery for FREE. You provide your driver’s licence or ID.
- Rent a van / camper: If you plan to visit the region or do a road trip in Tasmania, you can compare the offers of different rental agencies on www.motorhomerepublic.com
- For all exceptional events, have a look at the newspaper “The Mercury” on Fridays.
- Mobius (7 Despard St). On the waterfront, Hip Hop – Drum & Bass
- Syrup (39 Salamanca Place). On 2 floors – Techno & House
- Closest campsite: Cornelian Bay (north of town), a large, uncrowded, which you can (unofficially) use as a free campsite for the night!
- Closest caravan park: Elwick Cabin & Tourist Park 8km north of the centre. $ 35 powered site.
- Backpacker Hostels: Compare and book on: Booking.com
- Central City Backpackers – 138 Collin St – Starting at $ 23 a night.
- The Picked Frog Backpacker – 281 Liverpool st- Starting from $ 23.
- Montgomery’s Private Hotel and YHA Backpackers – 9 Argyle st – Starting from $ 27.
December / January:
Falls Festival: Outdoor Rock, Local and International Artists.
Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
Taste Festival: gastronomic festival, walk around the stalls with your plastic cup of wine!
Wooden Boat Festival: Every two years, odd years. Races and exposition of maritime heritage.
March / April:
Ten Days on the Island: cultural festival every 2 years (odd year) with concerts, dances, workshops
Just 20 minutes from Hobart, the Georgian-style village of Richmond was once a strategic military post.
Older than the historic site of Port Arthur, you see buildings built by convicts, including the oldest Catholic church in Australia.
Don’t miss the oldest bridge in the country across the Coal River. Built by the convicts in 1823, it is probably still haunted by Georges Grover. This prisoner was in charge of watching his fellow inmates and liked to see them suffer. One morning, during a dispute with another convict, he was murdered and his body was thrown from the bridge into the river.
Port Arthur & Tasman Peninsula
The Convict Trail to the east of Hobart takes you through historic towns to Port Arthur in the south of the Tasman Peninsula.
The Tasman Peninsula
The Tasman Peninsula is a stunning area in Tasmania. It shelters the famous historical site of Port Arthur and has impressive rock formations.
Among them, Tessellated Pavement, Blowhole, Tasman Arch or Devil’s kitchen, on the road to Port Arthur, are accessible by a short walk (10min).
Along the road, there is also the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, home to several Tassie devils. It’s possible to participate in the feeding of several animals including the Tasmanian devil! ($ 35/pers – open every day)
Port Arthur, located at the end of the Tasman Peninsula, is a historic site, for which you pay an entrance fee. You find the ruins of the penitentiary centre, chosen for its isolation, which has locked up the most dangerous criminals of the colony. As early as 1830, this site presented extremely difficult conditions of detention. Connected to the rest of the island by only a strip of land, Eaglehawk Neck, it was the perfect place to avoid prisoner escapes. Once a prisoner even tried to escape by putting on the skin of a kangaroo that he killed to deceive the guards!
Today, you can visit the ruins of the detention center. The penitentiary, a large building with beige walls was originally a flour mill that was converted into a prison. We then meet the ruins of the sinister hospital and those of the asylum (now a café).
Port Arthur will reveal to you the difficult living conditions of prisoners and the remarkable testimonies of the old prison.
Entry to the historic site is not free (ticket valid for 2 consecutive days): Pass 37 $ / pers includes access to the site with a guided tour and a boat tour from the port. You can choose activities such as the Ghost Tour (+ $ 25), Point Puer (+ $ 13).
If you want to take full advantage of the site, we advise you to take a Pass that include access to different activities (After Dark Pass for example).
You find more information about various tours on the Port Arthur website.
Mt Field National Park
This national park is particularly renowned for its beautiful mountains, rainforests, waterfalls, and wildlife. Situated only 80km north of Hobart, it is a perfect destination for a few days in nature.
At the Park Visitor Centre, you get a walking trail brochure. A short hike (20min) to Russel Falls (45m high) is accessible from the Visitor Centre.
12km south of the capital, Kingston is part of the growing suburb of Hobart. This coastal town has a shopping centre and a nice beach, Kingston Beach.
You can also visit the Australian Antarctic Division, administering the land owned by the country on the polar zone, with a gallery explaining the expeditions, the flora and fauna of the Antarctic (Free – open from Monday to Friday)
Situated South of Hobart, the Huon Valley is an area of rivers, perfectly suitable for farming. Huon River was explored in 1773 by Admiral Bruni d’Entrecasteaux and Captain Huon Kermandec, who gave their names to many sites in the region.
The main town Huonville (2,000 inhabitants) is the starting point for exploring the region and for many backpackers a promising place to look for a fruit picking job. The town was traditionally the heart of the apple industry, but farmers in the region have now diversified to growing cherries, berries, peaches …