1. MOUNT WELLINGTON
It may not deliver quite the dramatic impact of Cape Town’s Table Mountain or Rio’s Sugarloaf Mountain (though, really, what does?), but on a clear day don’t hesitate to head up the long and winding road to the near 1300-metre sub-alpine rocky summit of Hobart’s spectacular Mount Wellington. In such a pristine environment views of the city scattered around the hills by the Derwent River are sublime. Pause and gaze to the north and it can seem that you really can see forever. And there’s also a wealth of walking and cycling opportunities for the adventurous.
See discovertasmania.com; wellingtonpark.org.au.
2. SALAMANCA PLACE
Aside from The Rocks in Sydney there’s nothing in Australia quite like Salamanca Place with its row of charming, cheek-to-jowl Georgian sandstone warehouses facing Hobart’s waterfront. And even if the idea of 300 stallholders selling everything from handmade Tasmanian woodwork and all manner of local gourmet delights doesn’t excite you, it’s worth spending some time at the lively Salamanca Markets, held every Saturday, if only to soak up the atmosphere.
3. BATTERY POINT
This suburb, full of some of the most beautiful Victorian houses in Australia, began life as the site of an artillery battery. Nowadays it’s an historic residential area, perfect for an extended stroll, with a sprinkling of restaurants, cafes, shops, bed and breakfasts, guesthouses and churches.One of the best spots for breakfast, brunch or lunch is the long-standing Jackman & McRoss bakery and cafe along narrow Hampden Road with Mount Wellington looming over its al fresco diners. Tucked away behind the Hampden Road strip is Arthur Circus, a picturesque circular colonial street ringed by heritage cottages with a village green and playground at its centre.
4. THE WATERFRONT
Diminished as it is by unsightly high-rise buildings that surround it and block views, Hobart’s waterfront precinct – the original landing point in 1804 of Hobart’s founder, Lieutenant Governor David Collins – remains an accessible delight. The focus of the finish of the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht classic at Constitution Dock, Sullivans Cove has plenty of places to eat, most with a predictable seafood theme. Or just plonk yourself down on the side of a wharf with takeaway fish and chips.
5. RIVER DERWENT
Not just the Derwent River but the River Derwent, Hobart’s waterway is, after Sydney Harbour, Australia’s most impressive. And just like Port Jackson, the Derwent is a much-loved aquatic playground for its residents with plenty of opportunities for visitors to get out among it. During any visit the 239-kilometre long Derwent will be constant and agreeable presence, so much does it dominate the life and topography of the city.
6. THEATRE ROYAL
It ain’t the Royal Albert but the Theatre Royal, opened in 1837, remains one of Hobart’s true hidden gems. It’s been saved from demolition on countless occasions, including in the late 1940s when Sir Laurence Olivier actively opposed its demise. If you can’t manage to grab a show at the Theatre Royal then take a 45-minute tour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
7. MAWSON HUTS REPLICA MUSEUM
Hobart’s newest, not-to-be-missed museum, tucked away in a corner of the waterfront, is easy to miss due to its small size. It’s a novel scale replica of the buildings that were constructed as the base for Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic expedition of 1911. Even the Baltic pine timber used in the museum’s construction is accurate, with the material sourced from the same Scandinavian sawmill that supplied the original expedition. The main feature of the museum is a re-creation of the living conditions inside the huts, complete with the weekly menu featuring penguin for main course.
8. TASMANIAN MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY
Ever since the provocative Museum of Old and New Art, or MONA, transformed Hobart and Tasmania’s reputation as a destination, the Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery, located near the city’s waterfront precinct, seemed like an anachronism. But one look at the impressive new entrance and forecourt of the TMAG, the product of an overdue $30 million redevelopment, is enough to change that perception, along with contents that include an eclectic collection of art and historical exhibits.
9. NORTH HOBART
Hobart’s most popular restaurant and cafe strip along Elizabeth Street is a lot less touristy than Salamanca Place at the other end of town and the one more favoured by locals. Here you’ll find find bars, restaurants and patisseries such as Piccolo, Ethos, Raincheck Lounge and Sweet Envy (however, Hobart’s most acclaimed restaurant, the fashionable Garagistes, is at the other end of town in Murray Street).
10. LENNA PENTHOUSE SUITE
Once offering accommodation that extended little beyond dull motor inns and caravan parks, Hobart in recent years has acquired some fine places to stay. If you fancy a splurge (perhaps splitting the cost between two couples), book one of the palatial, luxuriously appointed two- and three-bedroom penthouse suites at the historic Lenna Hotel at the top end of Salamanca Place. The designer living room has wraparound glass windows and a terrace with spectacular 180-degree views of the city and the Derwent.
11. CASCADES FEMALE FACTORY
Just outside the city centre in the suburb of Cascades (location of the famed old brewery) are the World Heritage-listed ruins of the Female Factory. It’s regarded as the the nation’s most significant female convict site, a purpose-built institution where inmates, in the foothills of Mount Wellington, provided laundry and needlework services for the fledgling colony. Although the site has been meticulously restored, not much remains of the original complex so book a heritage tour or time your visit for Her Story. It’s a live theatrical depiction of the harsh life within Yard One of the Female Factory.
12. MOUNT NELSON
Just like Cape Town’s Table Mountain, Hobart’s Mount Wellington (which is actually higher than the South African peak) can often be obscured by thick cloud and with road access closed due to heavy snow. If that’s the case take the short drive out of town to the hillside suburb of Mount Nelson, where you’ll find a 19th century signal station as well as a lookout providing superb panoramas of the city, the Derwent and the Tasman Bridge.
Just like Sydney and Melbourne (though on a much smaller scale) Hobart is intoxicated by stylish, intimate bars. The latest Hobart fad is focused on whisky bars with Tasmania in recent years having developed a dram fine reputation for the drop after having even pipped Scottish distillers at major international awards. Both of Tassie’s main distilleries, Nant and Lark, operate their own bars in the city to showcase their main operations. And then, among others, there’s uber cool Sidecar, a spinoff of the aforementioned Garagistes eatery, with a broader drinks menu focus than just whisky.
See nant.com.au; larkdistillery.com.au; garagistes.com.au/sidecar/.
Founded in the 1820s, Richmond is regarded as one of the finest examples of the island’s convict era. The town, less than half an hour from central Hobart,
is full of touristy cafes and chintzy shops but beyond them you’ll discover gorgeous, well-preserved Georgian architecture including the much-photographed sandstone bridge as well as a gaol built five years before Port Arthur. Hang around and explore the Coal River Valley, in which Richmond is nestled, one of Tasmania’s most respected premium winemaking regions.
See discovertasmania.com; richmondvillage.com.au.
15. VILLA HOWDEN
For a completely different take on Hobart book a night or two at the luxurious Villa Howden, an easy 15-minute drive out of town. A little touch of provincial France in Tassie, this posh 10-room establishment overlooks D’Entrecasteaux Channel, first surveyed by the eponymous French naval officer in the late 18th century. There’s an excellent restaurant that serves high teas on weekends. Bookings are essential.
16. BRUNY ISLAND
Once the secret summer getaway for Tasmanians, Bruny Island has become a mainstream tourist destination renowned for its wildness, wildlife and, increasingly, its fresh gourmet produce. The car ferry that leaves from pretty Kettering for North Bruny is only about 45 minutes from the city, meaning that it’s possible to visit in a day – although it’s much better to allocate at least two or three if you really want to fully explore the island. The acclaimed Pennicott Wilderness Journeys operates cruises and tours around the stunning coastal scenery of South Bruny National Park.
See discovertasmania.com; brunyisland.org.au; brunycruises.com.au.
17. ART GALLERIES
If you’re visiting Hobart, chances are that Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) will be firmly on your itinerary, if only to see what all the fuss is about. But art doesn’t just hang (out) in one place in Hobart. Check out Handmark Gallery in Salamanca Place, the spot to view the work of Tasmanian artists and craftspeople as well as Bett Gallery, specialising in contemporary art, in North Hobart.
See handmarkgallery.com; bettgallery.com.au.
What with all the hype surrounding MONA it’s easy to forget (or not know at all) that the site on which it is built began life as Moorilla Estate, a winery with an architect-designed cellar door and restaurant conceived by David Walsh, MONA’s eccentric creator. It’s all still there (along with a craft beer brewery), albeit on an increasingly over-developed site, with the well-regarded Source restaurant worth the trip – preferably along the river rather than road.
19. HENRY JONES ART HOTEL
The room rates at Hobart’s first true design hotel can nowadays be as high as Mount Wellington itself, so popular has it become to stay at the beautifully restored jam factory. If you can’t afford to stay at the 56-room Henry Jones pop in for a drink at the IXL Long Bar with views of Sullivans Cove. There also a design gallery of Tasmanian furniture and artwork hand-crafted from Huon Pine timber.
20. NANNY GOAT LANE
Hobart is a hilly town and you’d be a goat to miss the selfie opportunity presented by this pedestrian laneway in Battery Point near Sandy Bay. It’s believed that the sheer precipitous nature of this laneway led to its novel name, as well as the special sign that’s been erected clearly with an eye to tourists who stumble upon it.