Hobart is hot as an Aussie travel destination. The Tassie capital effortlessly melds heritage charm with cutting edge culture, and record numbers of visitors can’t get enough of it! If it’s your first visit to the city, here’s a checklist of top things to see and do. Book your accommodation at ChoiceHotels.com.
1. Get arty at the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona)
Mona is not everyone’s artistic cup of tea, but it has been credited with singlehandedly turning Tassie’s tourism fortunes around since it opened back in 2011. The largely subterranean, architecturally stunning museum and gallery pokes merciless fun at the traditional arts establishment and presents a range of works that are challenging to say the least. There’s also an incredible collection of antiquities amassed by owner and professional gambler David Walsh. The museum is located outside the city centre and is best reached on the Mona Roma ferry which departs from the Brooke Street Pier. Go with an open mind.
2. Shop at the Salamanca Market
Next to Mona, the famous Salamanca Market is Hobart’s biggest drawcard. The market only operates on Saturdays, so it’s absolutely worth timing your visit accordingly. Held in historic Salamanca Place, it draws vendors from far and wide and offers a mind-blowing array of markety merchandise. You’ll find plenty of handmade and artisanal products on offer, along with fresh produce, cheap street eats, fashion and jewellery. Buskers set the tone and the vibe is friendly and relaxed. You’ll find the locals ready and willing for a chat.
3. Scale Mount Wellington
Rising 1,200 metres behind the city, kunanyi/Mount Wellington provides a dramatic backdrop to the city and also dictates the daily weather conditions (in fact many residents choose what to wear each day depending on how much cloud the mountain is ‘wearing’). Heading up to the summit is a must-do for the awe-inspiring views of the city and surrounding region. If you plan to do any of the walks on offer, keep in mind that weather conditions can change rapidly, so plan for every eventuality. For those without a car, there are several tour operators that run shuttles up to the peak.
4. Step back in time on a walking tour
Established in 1804, Hobart is Australia’s second oldest capital city and has one of the country’s best-preserved caches of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture. It’s what makes this destination so popular with history lovers. From the carved convict insignia still visible in the foundation stones of Parliament House, to the seafaring shenanigans that once took place along the notorious Salamanca waterfront, there are endless stories to hear and uncover. Piece it all together on a guided walk with Hobart Historic Tours.
5. Enjoy the café culture
Hobart has a fabulous food scene and there are plenty of great restaurants to check out during your stay. However, it’s the city’s café culture that will serve you well in terms of reasonably priced, yet highly inventive fare. Probably second only to Melbourne, you’ll find cool cafes all over the shop. Some of the must-tries include Jackman and McRoss and the tiny Pollen Tea Room in Battery Point, Tricycle in the Salamanca Arts Centre, Small-fry on Bathurst Street, and Born in Brunswick in North Hobart. Read reviews and seek out a different option to try each day of your stay.
6. Try some top local drops
Winemaking, brewing and distilling are all big business in Tasmania, so choose your poison and try some of the top drops on offer in and around Hobart. The city offers easy access to the Derwent Valley and Coal River wine regions (the latter does stunning cabernets and merlots). Book a wine tour and let someone else do the driving. With its truly Dickensian exterior and rich heritage, the Cascade Brewery is well worth a visit for beer-lovers. The 75-minute History and Brewing Experience is offered daily. Whisky lovers should make tracks to the Lark Distillery to put their fabled single malt to the test.
7. Connect with the country’s convict past at Port Arthur
Set at least one day aside during your stay in Hobart to venture out and explore some of the surrounding countryside. The most popular options for a day trip are Bruny Island, the Huon Valley, Mount Field National Park and the Tasman Peninsula – home to another of Tasmania’s must-sees – the Port Arthur Historic Site. This once-infamous penal settlement accommodated some 12,000 convicts during its 50 years of operation, and it remains one of Australia’s most intact records of convict life. Take a detour on the way back to the city and visit the heritage town of Richmond. You’ll drive across the famous Richmond Bridge. Built by convict hands, it’s the oldest stone arch bridge in the country.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.