Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Things to Do in Hobart Tasmania

There are many reasons to visit Hobart, Tasmainia and the biggest one for me, is the history.  Hobart was settled by Europeans in 1803 and was actually the second British settlement in Australia after Sydney.  The beginnings of Hobart came about because, in typical style, the Brits were worried about France establishing a settlement and blocking important southern shipping lanes.  I kind of wish that a French settlement had arisen, as I think that might have been good for the Tasmainian tourist industry today.  But it was not to be.  Hobart was a very British outpost and the colonists have left their British stamp, all over the city.
The irony is, that Tasmania is one of Australia's less affluent states.  As a result, they were forced to keep alot of their historic buildings, when the likes of Sydney and Melbourne were mowing them down  in the 1960's and 1970's, to build boxy glass sky scrapers.  That happy fact in Hobart, has resulted in a charmingly historic cityscape and lots of interest for a visitor.


I do enjoy a stroll around a historical home.  Runnymede is but a 10 minute drive from the centre of Hobart and is well worth the trip.  Having recently under gone extensive restorations, it is certainly worth another look, if you haven't visited for a while.  The house has had several owners during its 180 years.  But after the restorations, it has become a monument to the maritime history of the whaling family, the Baileys, who owned the house for over 100 years. What blew me away, was that this was once a waterfront property, which was easily reached via the Derwant River.  Those upper reaches have now been filled in and are used as playing fields.  A strange development in my opinion.  One does sometimes wonder what our government officials are up to and their ability to destroy so much, with the stroke of a pen.  That unhappy fact does at least explain one thing.  The once waterfront location of the property, instigated the planting of red and white geraniums in the shape of the whaling boat flags, in the front garden, as an identification measure.  The planting was used so sailors approaching the property under sail, via the Derwant, could locate the homestead with ease from the river.  Kind of like a fore runner to Google maps and GPS, if you will.

Take the House and Garden Tour (45 minutes) which runs Tuesday to Friday 10am, 11am, 12am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm, or Sunday 12.30pm, 1.30pm or 2.30pm.  Bookings are recommended, but we didn't book and got a really informative and interesting tour of the property, when we turned up unannounced.

There is plenty of on street parking, or park in the field behind the property.

61 Bay Road
New Town
Ph:03 6238 4222
For general enquiries
03 6278 1269

Coffee or Lunch at Jackman and McRoss Bakery in Newtown

This cafe would be a lovely pit stop for lunch, after a visit to Runnymede.

It pays to contact the locals when you want to find the best spots in a city. Jane from Planet Joy is a blogger I have followed for some time and she very kindly offered to meet me for coffee when we were in town.  She took me to  the Jackman and McRoss Bakery in New Town.  It was rather ironic, because previously in the week Mr Beach House and I had tried to have a coffee at the Battery Point incarnation of this cafe and couldn't get in, it was so packed.  How nice then, that I got the opportunity to try out the food and coffee at this fabulous cafe, with Jane in it's New Town branch.

Lovely coffee
Interesting food and
great service
No wonder both venues were well patronised

32 Cross Street 
New Town
Ph 03 6228 4688 

Cascade Brewery
There are 2 tours available at Cascades Brewery. One accesses the brewery and is only available for adults over 18.  If you have children, you will be restricted to a tour of the beautiful gardens and a story of the history of the business.  We took the latter tour and although interesting, having come all that way, I would have liked to visit the brewery.  I am sure my kids would have been fascinated by the mechanics of the production line and not given a second thought as to what was being produced.  It seems strange that children are not permitted into the brewery, when they are permitted into the bar at the end of the tour, when all the adults are permitted to have a go a pulling a beer.  Yet another example of how ridiculously over regulated we are in Australia.  As you can see, my son was more interested in getting a free sugary drink, than getting any access to alcohol.

As for pulling a beer, I really enjoyed that bit of the tour, probably because it took me back to my university and ski bum days and I realised I still had it.  Look at that beautiful head.

It is absolutely necessary to book this tour, as it is very popular and I can't help but think that it's popularity and the need to shunt loads of people around, has meant it has lost a little of it's charm. Anyhow it is a fabulous Tasmanian story and an iconic buidling and I do recommend getting to know it via a tour.

Cascade Brewery
140 Cascade Road
South Hobart
03 6224 1117

Cascades Female Factory
The world heritage listed Cascades Female Factory is such an interesting story.  It was the starting point for many a female convict in Hobart, as they waited to be assigned as servants to free settlers.  Although many of the buildings have sadly been demolished, (there goes the stroke of that government pen again) it is a great way to understand the female convict story of Australia.  We had a wonderful personal tour of the property.  The foundations of all the buildings have been marked out and building plans have been posted around the gaols outer walls, allowing you to imagine how it would have been.

The tour also allows you access to the matron's house,which is not available via general access to the museum.

There's also a roving theatre production, called Her Story, performed daily at 11am, which tells the story of an inmate, the overseer and the doctor. (Approx 45 minutes)

Cascades Female Factory
16 Degraves Street
South Hobart
Open 9.30am -4pm
Phone: 1800 139 478

Mt Wellington
A drive up Mt Wellington, or Kunanyi as it was known to the Aboriginals who once inhabited the region, is a really great way to get an overview of the city of Hobart and how it sits within the geography of the area.  With stunning views and rock formations, a trip to the top is almost a rite of passage on any visit to the city.  Make sure you make provisions to rug up though, as even if it is very warm at the base, you will need some extra layers at the top.

The hot mail is that there are advanced plans to build a cable car from Hobart, up to the summit.  Despite some obvious environmental issues, I think it would be a great addition to the tourist experience of Hobart.

Hate it or love it, I think a trip to the Museum of Old and New Art should be an essential stop on any trip to Hobart, so that you can make an informed view.

In mine, the best thing about our visit was the  river boat trip up to the museum and the sandstone walls of the remarkable underground part of the building.  The art is meant to be confronting and although it fills that brief, I found the MONA over indulgent, over priced and an example of excellent marketing, where the product doesn't deliver on the hype. It is evidence that no matter how hard you rub, you cannot polish a turd, but I am sure there are many who would disagree, so don't take my word for it.

Just watch out when you go to the loo.  A relation recently had her bum photographed whilst in the lav and projected onto a screen in front of her.  She didn't realise it was her butt, until she wiped it.  I reckon that's pretty intrusive and yuck.
Art is supposed to arouse discussion and so I salute the institution for doing that, but there is a line and the MONA definitely crosses it..  

The quirky nature of the MONA ROMA, the river cruiser which ferries you up the river from central Hobart, for $20 return, was thought provoking and very enjoyable.  However, no kids fares were available, so they must pay $20 for the boat trip too. Kids under 4 travel free and for kids under 18, admission to the museum is free.
Here my boy is sitting in the sheep seats out the back of the boat.  Get it? Although nothing is 'sheep' when it comes to the admission or transport to the MONA.

The trip takes 20 minutes and you can pay $50 return to turn left upon entry to the boat, to enter the 'posh pit' up the front, where canapes and beverages are served during trip on the Derwant River. 

There is also a bus which travels from central Hobart to the museum for the same price of $20. 

Transport details are here.

The food at the MONA was decent, but overpriced.  This pie dressed up with a few lettuce leaves and some relish set me back $9, which I thought was steep.  The service was slow and be prepared to queue extensively in peak season.

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
This beautifully located park, with stunning views of the Derwent River is absolutely worth checking out.  I was inspired by the peace and tranquility here and thought it was a wonderful place to picnic. Entry to the gardens are free.  There is a lovely conservatory and a cafe serving really good food, located in the centre of the gardens.  Again the food was expensive, but very pleasant.

Whilst not strictly Hobart, Richmond is a short drive from the capital and really makes a lovely day trip.  The Old Richmond Goal is interesting.  Make sure you shut yourself into solitary, if just for a minute, to see how these poor wretches were treated,  Richmond is also home to a cute little model village, which depicts Old Hobart Town before Sullivans Cove was filled in, to form the deep water Constitution Dock, as it is today.  This is a good one for the kids, as they are instructed to find some hidden little people and animals in the model town.

Old Hobart Town is located at
21A Bridge Street
(03) 6260 2502

Of course no trip to Richmond is complete without taking a look at the oldest bridge (still standing) in Australia.  Dated to 1823, it is a true national treasure.  There are also some fantastic antique shops and lovely eateries in the town.

Salamanca Market

Set up under the watchful eye of Mt Wellington and in the heart of Hobart every Saturday, between  8.30am and 3pm,  The Salamanca markets are an eclectic mix of local arts and crafts and very fresh artisan style produce. Wallaby pie anyone?

Mawsons Hut
Just across the park from Salamanca markets, is the exact replica of Mawson's Hut in the Antarctic.  Built entirely by dedicated volunteers, it is really interesting to see how these wonderful explorers lived in such harsh conditions 100 years ago.  Mawson and his men left on their Antarctic adventure from Constitution Dock and so the connection between Hobart and that fascinating story is a big one. There is lots of info on all the interesting men who were part of the scientific expedition and a very profound look at life in south pole 100 years ago.  Lets just say equipment has come a very long way.  Vintage lovers you will enjoy this one.

 Penitentiary Chapel
I can see why this Hobart attraction is number one on trip adviser.  Originally the Penitentiary Chapel was designed as a chapel for the worship of both convicts and free settlers.  The museum now housed in the building, depicts the fascinating story of the interaction between convicts and free settlers in early Tasmania. When it became a gaol, the solitary confinement cells were constructed under the chapel floor and they are remarkable.  The worst cells only allowed the prisoner to crouch or sit in the foetal position, for days on end.  The complex includes a working gallows, where three prisoners could be hung at once.  As a believer in ghosts, having seen one on two separate occasions in other locations, one does wonder what all that interference in that shot is (left).  Can you make out the face in the top left circle?

Later the building became 2 Supreme Criminal Courts, which have virtually been left in tact since their closure in the latter part of last century.

Apart from seeing the gallows, another highlight for me was actually touching the thumb prints left in the convict made bricks of the Chapel.

Make sure you take the tour, as it brings the place to life.  Ghost tours are also available.

Cnr Campbell Street and Brisbane Street
Ph: 03 6231 0911

So I hope you enjoyed a tour of some of the best tourist attractions in Hobart.

Disclaimer: I attended all the attractions at my own expense.

If you would like to get more travel tips, check out my travel stories page.

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With Some Grace


  1. I love the historic buildings in Hobart. For my 2 year stay in Hobart I lived in a historic converted stable with mega thick walls. Admittedly very cold in winter even with the fire going but gorgeously cool in summer!

  2. I already have a few of these on my wanderlust list for Hobart but there were a few I haven't heard of so thank you. Would love you to link up to my #wednesdaywanderlust travel link party tomorrow.

  3. Wow! You certainly saw and did a lot! I've never been to Hobart, although my parents have been and they've raved about it. The female factory sounds really interesting. I would add that to my list. #teamIBOT

  4. I follow some blogs in Tasmania and love it. Thanks for sharing!AriadnefromGreece!

  5. So many great ideas here. I've heard very mixed opinions about MONA and reading this I can understand why. But I totally agree about the brewery. We would be very disappointed to miss out on a tour or just send hubster in on his own. In this day of workplace health and safety, surely it's not a safety thing and as you say, the alcohol reasoning doesn't make sense. Ah well. Glad you had a great time.

  6. Tasmania always looks so pretty it's great to see that there is a wide range of other things to do.

  7. Wow - thank you - such a timely post for me to have a good read through. Hubby and I are leaving for a 13 day driving holiday around Tasmania in late April. We will be starting and finishing in Hobart. Most of the places you have mentioned we intend to visit. Good to see piccies and hear your thoughts! Thank you! :-)

  8. How beautiful is Tasmania? I'd love to get back and see MONA it looks amazing :-)

  9. wow I like all the old, historical buildings actually so I guess it's a blessing in disguise that even though they aren't as affluent, they do get to keep such rich heritage.

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  10. Loved your take on hobart. It's always interesting to hear other peoples opinions about Mona. I love some of it and hate some of it haha. The only thing I truly have a problem with is is the goldfish 'art' did you see that one? They have this poor little goldfish in a small white bowl with a rusty knife in it. Apparently the goldfish dies everyday and they replace it each day. Sometimes it's dead when you see it and sometimes not. I'm sure you know how I'd feel about that! Otherwise it's very interesting, I've been many times, my brother even had his wedding there which was gorgeous. Of course Tasmanians don't have to pay to get in though so I'd feel differently towards it if I had to pay to see it I'm sure. I hope you took the kiddos to the lolly shop in Richmond! Not healthy but too fun not to.

  11. hi Carolyn - thanks for that. we go saturday and i haven't planned or booked anything yet. I might give you a call to get some ideas also. hope that's okay. cheers fiona x

    1. Yes sure it is. Have you seen today's post on Ross here http://www.desireempire.com/2015/03/ross-beautiful-historic-town-in-tasmania.html It's a lovely little historic town, just off the Midlands Highway if you have a private car and are travelling that way.

  12. nice post..thanks for sharing nice post....

  13. This is a great blog and Tassie is such a beautiful state and lovely place. Our tour started out really well organized. I went on the Port Arthur and Tasman Peninsula tour with a stop at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park.


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