10 Reasons to Visit Hobart

If you’re contemplating a summertime visit to Hobart, here are 10 reasons to book your ticket.

1. It’s right on the water …

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… which means sea life …

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… boats …

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… and even beaches, if you don’t mind your water freezing cold (we went to Taroona Beach but didn’t make it out past our knees):

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2. Hiking/Trekking: Much of the backdrop of Hobart is formed by kunanyi/Mt. Wellington, a long, high peak that is the summit of the Wellington Range (note: kunanyi is the Aboriginal name, but I’ll be using Mt. Wellington here because it’s more familiar). This mountain is part of the wonderful Wellington Park Reserve, which means that wide swathes of it are open to the public. On our first trip to the park, we took a quick trip through Fern Glade …

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… where the ferns range from the tiny …

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… to the tall:

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We returned to take the hike to Silver Falls (side note: I love the signage in this part of the park).

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The falls themselves are modest…

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… but we loved the trail, which took us past countless numbers of ferns and giant trees:

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And we even had a touch of art (on the side of a water tower) toward the end of the hike:

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There are all sorts of hikes on Mt. Wellington. If you drive all the way up to the summit of Mt. Wellington (more on this in #6 below), you can take the steep Zig Zag Trail down to the Organ Pipes trail, which offers views like this:

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I spent a while exploring the summit on the flatter and far more exposed South Wellington Trail. I loved the rocky alpine landscape …

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… and the views!

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If you don’t want to drive all (or even part) of the way up Mt. Wellington, you can head to the drier side of the mountain and go for a short trek at Knocklofty Reserve. A walk here will start you at a beautiful view out over the water …

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… take you up a steep dirt road …

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… lead you through an arid but elegant eucalyptus grove …

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… and perhaps even lead you across the path of a skittish wallaby!

3. The Food:  Tasmania is known for its thriving food scene, and Hobart is right at the center. There are lots of cafes and bars along Salamanca Place:

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The Retro Cafe here is incredibly popular; we would also recommend the cocktails and the pear and walnut salad at The Den. For something more casual, try the amazing trevella fish (skip the chips) at Flippers and eat out on a bench by the bay. And for fish & chips either indoors or out on the pier, we’d suggest Fish Frenzy.

If you want to wander a bit further off of the tourist path, you can have a terrific chai and breakfast at tiny and crowded Small-Fry. Pigeon Hole in West Hobart also offers an amazing breakfast, using locally-sourced produce from their own farm whenever possible.

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For fine dining with a focus on farm-to-table meats and produce, we would recommend Peacock & Jones. And wow, did we love the pizza at Solo Pasta and Pizza in Sandy Bay. Of course, you can skip eating out altogether and pick up fruit, crackers and beautiful Tasmanian cheeses for a picnic at Hill Street Grocer (they have several stores to choose from).

4.  Shopping: Hobart has a wonderful collection of artisan galleries that sell a range of arts and crafts. Wander down Salamanca Place and you’ll find all sorts of things made from glass, wood, and wool; head up to Battery Point for vintage shops, antiques, and even a milliner.

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If you’re in town on a Saturday, you can head to the sprawling Salamanca Market for everything from handmade wooden spoons to koala bear tea towels to local honey. It’s maddeningly busy — I’m not sure I’d go back — but we did purchase raspberries, tea, and Tasmanian fudge.

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For a much smaller market with a lot more sanity and a down-to-earth vibe, it’s worth checking out the Farm Gate Market on Bathurst Street on Sunday mornings.

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Of course, you won’t find any Tasmanian trinkets here; this market is all produce and other comestibles. But you can see where the locals come to do their weekly shopping and procure an excellent breakfast at the same time:

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If you have a car, I would suggest going up to North Hobart to visit State Bookstore — it’s a sprawling, beautifully curated, wonderful shop.

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And while you’re there, you can pop next door to watch a movie (they show everything from blockbusters to art house films) at the historic State Cinema:

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5. Architecture: I’m not sure why, but I find the architecture in Hobart quite charming. First there are the sandstone buildings of the mid- to late 1800s, from grand public edifices …

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… to the warehouses of Salamanca Place:

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But what I really love are the private homes. There are grand estates in this city, yes, but most of Hobart’s houses are low-slung, modest, and charming:

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I also enjoy running across the occasional Victorian home …

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… and unexpected bursts of art deco architecture:

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6. Pinnacle Road: In the mid-1930s, depression-era Hobart was looking to provide jobs to thousands of unemployed men. One means to this end was the construction of Pinnacle Road, which winds up, up, up to the summit of Mt. Wellington, ending 4,170 feet above the city. The road gives anyone who’s not in the mood for a long hike a chance to see terrific views …

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… cool plants …

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… and ecosystems that run from temperate rainforests …

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… to what I’ve dubbed “moonrock with a few sticks” …

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… to plain old “moonrock.”

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On a slightly sunnier day, the view from the top is simply majestic. You can get a view down to Hobart and north up the Derwent River…

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… to the east over Sandy Bay …

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Note that if you’re headed up to the top, it’ll be cold! If you go, bring warm clothes. Even if it looks sunny when you’re at the bottom, the fog can roll in fast.

7. Flowers: Plant life abounds in Hobart, and you’ll find neat, tidy gardens in front yards and public parks alike.

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Even some of the weeds (this is the bidgee widgee) are cute!

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8. History: Hobart started out in the early 1800s as a penal colony and a whaling town, a shipbuilding center and a port of trade for wool. The dangers of that age are evident in the epitaphs on many of the city’s graves in St. David’s Park:

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This has also long been a city of adventure: Charles Darwin came through on the HMS Beagle, and to this day, Hobart remains last port of call for many Antarctic explorations.

You can see the city’s history in evidence everywhere you walk, from the medal-winning yachts in the harbor to the 1840s working-class cottages of Arthur Circus on Battery Point:

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You can also (rather randomly) visit one of the oldest sporting clubs in the southern hemisphere, the Hobart Royal Tennis Club:

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This building houses one of the oldest courts in the royal (or “real”) tennis world. Royal tennis is also known as jeu de paume, and it is the antecedent to modern-day tennis. I was lucky enough to catch the world doubles championship (the US won!), but they are happy to have visitors stop in any time.

9. The Museum of Old & New Art (MONA): I’ve written about this museum in another post, but it merits a second mention. There are few places like it in the world (Mass MocCA is the closest thing I’ve seen), and you can have a lot of fun in the light exhibits:

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10. Our incredible Airbnb! We stayed on a property known as the Old Bishop’s Quarters, or Bishopscourt, which was built in 1836 and was the home to every Anglican bishop of Tasmania from 1869 until 2004.

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That building is still a private residence. To get to our accommodations, you walked by a classic English garden …

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… along this path …

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… to a very tiny house. But here’s the wonderful part: it had a sunroof! You could lie in bed, retract the roof …

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…and look up a the sky (or the stars, when the weather allowed):

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