Hobart Destination Guide
Australia's second-oldest capital city after Sydney, Hobart is a small, friendly city by the Derwent River on the south-eastern coast of Tasmania. Its natural setting, fine examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture, love of arts, crafts and gastronomic treats, make this an enticing holiday destination. Daylight illuminates Hobart for more than 15 hours per day at the height of summer too. The bustling at Hobart's port isn't just about cruise ships either – this is the gateway to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and home port for Australian and French Antarctic programs.
Are you an architecture buff? A Macquarie Street and Davey Street stroll will take you past almost 60 National Trust-listed buildings. A Saturday morning trip to the sandstone buildings of Salamanca Market is popular with locals and tourists alike; the works of local artisans are sold with pride. Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is Australia's largest privately-funded gallery and enjoys testing artistic boundaries. Enjoy the (chilly) view atop Mount Wellington. You might also want to take a tour of Australia's oldest brewery: Cascade; or sate a sweet tooth at Cadbury's Chocolate Factory. Further afield (a 1.5-hour drive) is the grim and infamous former gaol and convict settlement, Port Arthur. However long you're here, don't worry about being short on things to do in Hobart.
Seafood is a specialty here and many rave about the local lobster – scallop pie is a Tasmanian dish too. If you're not a seafood fan, don't fret, Hobart restaurants aren't all about piscine palates. Carnivores should sample Salamanca's long-established steakhouse, Ball and Chain. Vegetarians and vegans seeking a perfect lunch might find it at Heart Food. If you'd like to try an exquisite use of local produce, book at the refined Henry's Restaurant. With wineries, breweries and distilleries close to Hobart, you can certainly find a good drop in this city too. If the climate gives you a hankering for a good Irish pub, try the New Sydney Hotel.
Tasmania has a gorgeous collection of boutique hotels and the capital is no exception. Here's a selection of Hobart accommodation from the mid- to higher end range. Orana House Heritage Bed and Breakfast has 10 cosy ensuite rooms and an inviting open fire and large verandah. The Islington Hotel's intimate luxury and garden adjoining the residence, originally built in 1847, is highly inviting. The waterfront Henry Jones Art Hotel puts on a fine spread in its converted jam factory home. It's a gallery, restaurant, hotel and experience. If you're wooing a significant other, Clydesdale Manor is a 2-time winner of Tasmania's Most Romantic Retreat too – nudge, nudge.
Designer boutiques, major chain stores, markets, bargains, fresh food and the work of artisans are all on sale here. Hobart shopping is a pleasure. One of the city's central shopping areas is on Elizabeth Street and in the southern Sandy Bay area, you'll find big names in jewellery and fashion. If you can, catch the fun and wares in the open air each Saturday morning in the historic Salamanca Place, at the Salamanca Market. It's been going since 1972 and continues to draw locals and visitors alike. This is one of the best places to buy Tassie timber products.
Hobart like a Local
Hobart is handy to gorgeous stretches of coast, national parks and hidden valleys. If you drive north, within an hour you'll find the towns of the Freycinet Coast, including Swansea – one of the state's oldest towns. Freycinet National Park has a rugged and quiet beauty, with granite mountains fringed by white sand beaches. A guided walk here is worthwhile. To the south of Hobart is the Huon Valley, a region of waterways and wilderness, rich in pioneer heritage. Here you can ride on Tassie's only remaining narrow gauge bush tramway at Ida Bay. For something less sedate, try a jet boat ride up the Huon River, departing from Huonville.