Of the few places on planet earth that have retained their natural splendor in today’s world of man made beauty, Hobart is one. The state capital of Tasmania has a haunting quality that remains with a traveller much after one has finished with the trip.
The place has an interesting history. Originally inhabited by a semi- nomadic tribe known as the Mouheneer, the area was a witness to many bloody encounters of the aboriginals with the Europeans. Eventually, the rush of settlers wiped out the aboriginal population. The British brought in shiploads of convicts, for crimes ranging from petty to serious. Along with the convicts came their guards. In fact, the first settlement was started in 1803 as a penal colony on the eastern shores of the Derwent River, but in 1804 it was moved to a Hobart. The city, initially known as Hobart Town, was renamed Hobart in 1875.
Hobart is an attractive town that sits on low hills which slope down to the banks of Derwent River. Clothed in woodland loveliness with the hills looming in a distance, and the river lapping at its feet, the city is one of the loveliest places I have ever visited. The fragrant freshness of foliage, and variety of colour, the grace and shapeliness of the hills, the promontories; and silhouette of boats bobbing over the waves is a picture that one carries back home.
My exploration of the city began with the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Garden. Established in 1818, it is a beautifully landscaped garden that draws nature lovers and tourists in hordes. It was abloom with flowers of all hues and kinds. Teals and ducks swam lazily along the lotus pond, birds twittered teasingly from the tall trees around me. It proved to be an instant rejuvenation therapy and I walked out after shedding my baggage of fatigue and stress.
The next stop was at the Salamanca market
across the Square. Each Saturday morning the Square transforms itself into a vibrant shopping area with hundreds of stalls set up all along the park. These stalls sell almost everything, from hats, souvenirs, jewellery, puppets and clothes to fruits, vegetables and food. Fiddlers, singers and artists showcase their talents and hundreds of tourists flock the area. The entire area wears a festive look with the music and a multitude of colours.
The Salamanca Market
The hours flew and it was time for sampling the gourmet offerings across the bay. The fabulous spread of breads, delicious crayfish served with aromatic herbs and the crisp salad had me salivating. Downing the fare with a glassful of white wine, I tottered out to see the rest of my new-found paradise.
I was told that the Mount Wellington
offered one of the best views of the area, so it was in the direction of the Pinnacle on Mount Wellington I headed. Just about 22 kilometres from the city centre, it was the nearest thing to heaven. The drive to Mount Wellington up the winding road passed through eucalypt forests, past cute houses with nice gardens, waterfalls, and great views of the bay. Going up to the 1270-meter peak we passed through several distinct ecosystems. At the top it was distinctly cold as pinnacles are prone to be. Bracing myself against the wind I feasted my eyes on the superb view of Hobart unfurling before my wondering eyes.
Back from the viewpoint, it was time for a rub with history. I made my way to the Hope & Anchor Tavern near the Salamanca. Dubbed as a historic pub, the place still has an old world feeling about it. The pub dates back to 1807 and has retained much of its original ambience right down to its old wood interior. The upper floor with its museum like bar and dining room is an interesting area to be in. of course, the lounges in the ground level are more crowded. To be in Tasmania means to feast on sea food and denying oneself would be blasphemous.
The next morning I made my way to the Port Arthur. Port Arthur was one of a dreaded prison where the prisoners toiled under the watchful eyes of ferocious dogs and guards. The shark infested waters on three sides made the prison inescapable. At the time it was the most feared destination for the convicts of Britain.
There was still half a day before I said adieu to Hobart so I decided to drive to the Tahune Forest Reserve to undertake an airwalk. Tasmania is one of the few places in the world to offer a spectacular treetop walkway. As I walked over the riverside rainforest canopy on the Tahune Forest Airwalk right across the tree-tops, I marvelled at the reaches of the human brain. We were ‘Walking the high wire’ suspended in the air on steel towers barely visible on the ground. The wonders of the world never ceased to please me.
The Tahune Airwalk
is one of only few fixed structure canopy walkways and provides a bird’s-eye view of the southern forests, the local mountain range and the Tasmanian World Heritage Area. The Walkway is about half a kilometre long.
Walking 40 metres above the rainforest canopy we passed above the tops of King Billy pine and Celery Top, Sassafras, myrtle, beech, blackwood and the flowering Leatherwood, at the confluence of two mighty rivers – the Huon and the Picton. Huon pines that range in age from 200 to more than a thousand years are found in the area. The sensory experience of Huon pine and other native forest species was a magical experience.
Hobart is definitely an unforgettable place I decided as I packed my baggage to leave Tasmania.
You can fly to Tasmania directly from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. Alternatively, you can experience the fun, and romance of sea travel on the Spirit of Tasmania I and II which sail from Melbourne to Devonport. Spirit of Tasmania III
sails from Sydney to Devonport.
Tasmania’s Own Redline Coaches operate regularly between major centres. Half day and full day coach tours operate from Tasmanian cities to various local sights.
Alternatively, you could hire a car from one of the numerous car and campervan hire firms all around Tasmania, if you have an international driving licence.
***** The Henry Jones Art Hotel Hobart – tariffs start at AUD 363.00
Water Edge Hotel, Hobart – tariff starts at AUD139.00
Somerset on the Pier, Hobart – tariff starts at AUD 225.00
***Brunswick Hotel, Hobart – from AUD 75.00
Hobart Mid City – from AUD 130.00
Things to Do
- Tour Hobart on a double-decker London bus (I guess the name comes from a similar bus that runs in London) or a coach tram during the day and take a evening coach tour to watch the lights of Hobart from Rosny Lookout or the summit of Mount Nelson.
- Take a tour of the local breweries and Cadbury Chocolate factory.
- Visit the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site (try the Ghost Tour)
- Take a cruise on the Derwent River and watch the dolphins leaping around.
- For the museum lovers Tasmania has quite a few museums like the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Maritime and Allport Museums, Narryna Heritage Museum and the Museum of Antiquities.
- Don’t miss the Saturday Salamanca market experience.
- Enjoy a twilight paddle by sea kayak on the calm waters of the Hobart waterfront.
For the Adventurous Soul
- Enjoy water sports like jet boating, rafting, and canoeing in the Derwent River near New Norfolk.
- Explore the Mount Field National Park, 75 km from Hobart. It offers a host of activities like interpretive trails, Pandani Grove Walk, Russell Falls Walk and Tall Trees Walk.
- Try rock climbing, snorkelling or diving at the Freycinet National Park. Take the two hour return walk to Wineglass Bay and see the pink and grey granite rocks of The Hazards.
- Animal lovers can visit the East Coast Natureworld, Bicheno to see the Tasmanian devils, wombats, birdlife ending the trip with the Bicheno Penguin Tour.
- Tasmania also offers great mountain biking opportunity. Log on to www.discovertasmania.com for a range of holiday planners.
For more information for travelling by sea log on to –