Let’s face it, taking the mick out of Tasmania comes just below cricket in terms of national sport. Yet there’s a ring of truth to the postcards sold in Hobart featuring a map of Australia with the mainland renamed ‘North Island’ – and you begin to get the feeling that maybe, just maybe, we’ve got this whole superiority over Tasmania thing the wrong way around.
As the Port Arthur ruins show, Hobart began life as a particularly harsh penal colony, but has now blossomed into a city of beauty, wonder and some damn fine facilities. It’s a quiet cultural achiever, rivalling Melbourne’s somewhat pretentious art scene with the MONA and Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
In terms of scenery, Hobart has some of the best in the country, with The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and Wellington Park showing off the city’s gentle beauty. In terms of shopping, unique boutiques line Elizabeth Street, and no matter where you’re from, Hobart will more than likely kick your city in the gastronomic guts, so vibrant and innovative is the food scene and local produce.
Humble, friendly and unfussed over whether you like it or not, Hobart is a gem hiding in plain sight, if only the rest of the country would take their blinkers off.
Hobart's Top 10
10. Wrest Point Casino Who doesn’t like a little spot of roulette? Not you? Hit up one of the restaurants or cool bars instead.
5. Cascade Brewery It’s a brewery. They make beer. It’s really, really good. They have tastings. They also have a shop that sells said beer. The end.
9. Battery Point This historic district provides some major historical eye candy.
4. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery This museum/art gallery has the finest art collections and most impressive exhibits in the city.
8. Elizabeth Street This mammoth street hosts the best shopping, eateries and drinking holes in the state.
3. Cadbury Chocolate Factory We’re pretty sure that you need about as much convincing to visit here as you did with the Cascade Brewery, but just in case: lots of free samples.
7. Shot Tower Learn a thing or two at this historic building where old-school ammo used to be made.
2. Peppermint Bay Cruise Take a cruise from Hobart to Peppermint Bay and be blown away by the remarkable surroundings.
6. Salamanca Market This is a Hobart icon and institution. Go to buy fresh produce or arty crafty pieces.
1. Mt. Wellington/Wellington Park views, gorgeous scenery and the freshest air anywhere.
- Port Arthur – An old prison town, but now a well-preserved historical site.
- Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site – Explore the courtrooms, grim cells and gallows by yourself or take one of the nightly ghost tours.
- Battery Point – This area’s preserved 19th-century churches, houses and pubs recall the colonial times.
- Old Signal Station – Messages transmitted across the prison colony came from this station.
- Richmond Village – Just a short distance from Hobart, this area is home to many notable 19th-century buildings.
Hobart Art & Culture
- Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery – This art museum and gallery is located in the 1808 Commissariat Store.
- Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra – Hear performances by this orchestra at the Federation Concert Hall.
- Maritime Museum of Tasmania – Contemporary Tasmanian art exhibits to relics all on display at the Maritime Museum of Tasmania.
- Coal River Valley – Taste award-winning wines produced amongst the vineyards in this region close to Hobart.
- Cascade Brewery – Keep the libations going at Australia’s oldest brewery, established in 1832. Tours are available if booked in advance.
- Art Mob – Buy or admire aboriginal fine art and jewellery here.
- Recycled Recreation – Load up on secondhand outdoor gear at this Hobart store.
- Tasmanian Wine Centre – Find and taste a large collection of local wines.
- Salamanca Place – This area offers unique shops, restaurants, galleries, pubs and cafes set among early-1800s sandstone warehouses.
- Bathurst St Antique Centre – This store is considered an antique lover's paradise.
Gay & Lesbian Hobart
- LALALAND – This gay dance party is held the first Saturday of each month at HALO nightclub.
- Flamingo’s Dance Bar – This nightclub comes alive every Friday and Saturday with gays and lesbians.
- Blue Velvet – This party venue is host to a bimonthly GLC dance party.
- The Old Woolstore – This is known to be a gay-friendly, spacious apartment hotel.
- Corinda’s Cottages – Guest accommodations in this mansion boast a beautiful view overlooking Sullivan’s Cove.
- Franklin Wharf – The harbour and dock area is great for strolling and exploring, as well as for getting a snack.
- Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens – These gardens established in 1818 boast more than 6,000 native plants.
- Mt Field National Park – Mountain scenery, alpine moorlands and lakes, rainforest and waterfalls, oh my - the Mt Field National Park has it all.
- Mt Wellington – Mt Wellington attracts bikers, hikers and sightseers.
- Australian Wooden Boat Festival – This outdoor festival in Sullivan’s Cove in every other February celebrates wooden boats of all shapes and sizes.
- See a series of aquatic competitions at the long-running Royal Hobart Regatta in February.
- Cheer on the Tasmanian Tigers cricket team at the Bellerive Oval.
- Watch the winners of the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race sail into the harbour.
- Visit the Royal Tennis Courts, which date from 1875.
- Check out a number of sports venues in the Friends Sports Ground.
This is Hobart’s core and home to some of the most important venues in the state, including Parliament House and the Supreme Court. Make sure you pay the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery a visit for a look at one of the biggest and best art collections in the country, as well as stacks of awesome and inspiring exhibits. If you want to ingest some history and probably get a tad teary, visit the Hobart War Memorial, a monument commemorating the lost soldiers of war.
If you like your history with a marine-flavour, try the Maritime Museum to learn about Aussie maritime history and exploration, ship construction, naval warfare and gaze at shipwrecks and remnants from under the sea. Oh, and shoppers? Elizabeth Street Mall is your #1 destination.
Hobart’s south is home to an eclectic mix of attractions. Start with the MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) for one of the most unique art experiences in Oz. It’s a remarkable venue that puts a lot of effort and thought into its exhibits, so you’d be crazy to miss it. The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens also finds its home here and has a whopping selection of attractions for flora lovers. You’ll find everything from a Japanese garden to a sub-Antarctic plant house and even a lil ol’ veggie patch (it’s actually pretty big).
Now that you’ve worked up a sufficient thirst, get over to the Cascade Brewery, where all your Tassie beer dreams will come true. Take a tour, have a meal and drink classic, Tassie-made beer like there’s no tomorrow. Make sure you bring along someone boring to be the designated driver.
Hobart’s famous Elizabeth Street continues into the north and provides a great selection of top restaurants and bars, so rest assured that if you’re in this neck of the woods, you’ll be fed well. Speaking of being fed well, you have to hit up the Cadbury Chocolate Factory and Visitors Centre. Learn how chocolate is made, watch them pour it into moulds (try to hold yourself back from jumping into the giant vats) and sample all the goodies. There’s also a shop so make sure you buy up BIG TIME. Everyone knows that Cadbury choccies are amazing, and you can buy huge bags of discounted chocolates that aren’t quite the right shape to be sold in stores. Nothin’ wrong with the taste, though!
This is one of the most scenic areas in the city, so make sure you bring some sturdy shoes and your camera. Get over to Mount Wellington and Wellington Park for magnificent views, great walking trails and plenty of native wildlife. If you’re up for a short bus ride, the 22-acre Inverawe Native Gardens at Margate are a treat. Stroll through the blissful, landscaped gardens on your own or take a themed, guided tour. If you’re a bird enthusiast, don’t forget to bring your binoculars, too, because hundreds of bird species call Inverawe their home. There are also a number of wineries scattered around the area.
Hobart Eat & Drink
Catch Fresh seafood, anyone? The bouillabaisse is worth its weight in gold.
Maldini This local fave does Italian food to a T. They also have an awesome wine list!
The Boathouse A classic-style venue juxtaposed with modern Aussie-Euro fusion.
Syrup Stay downstairs for funky, retro classics or go upstairs for some epic, reach-for-the-lasers electronica.
Drunken Admiral This awesome sea-and pirate-themed eatery does some of the best seafood in town. It’ll be hard to choose just one dish, though.
Ball and Chain Grill This place does seafood and meat on a charcoal grill. *drool* We’ll take two of everything, thanks.
Cargo Bar Pizza Lounge Chilled and funky place for fantabulous pizza and great drinks.
IXL Long Bar Lives in the Henry Jones Art Hotel and is one of swishest bars in town. Kick back with a cocktail and soak in the surroundings.
the lowerhouse This slick restaurant/bar with the trendy lowercase lettering is perfect for a sexy, after-hours chillout or an elegant dinner (or both).
Garagistes This communal-style eatery is simple yet stylish, welcomes chic and cool clientele on a daily basis and is one of the best in the city.
The Royal Hobart Show provides four days of epic entertainment for all ages every October. Whether you’re all about rollercoasters that take you to the point of puking, showbags full of games and edible goodies, cute animal shows or just some great food and art exhibits, the show will satisfy.
Thousands of beer fans unite at The Tasmanian Beerfest every November. The largest beer festival in Oz sees breweries from all over the state, country and even overseas come together to put their best on show. If you like your amber ale, live music and great food, you can’t pass up this epic, beer-fuelled fiesta.
Hobart (and the entire country) always gets pumped for the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, starting on Boxing Day every year. Park your cabooses around the Derwent River/Sullivan’s Cove for the exhilarating and emotional finish a few days later
Great food and plonk – is there anything better? The Taste festival (late December to early January) transforms Hobart into food and alcohol heaven by celebrating the city’s great local produce. Go and stuff your faces and sink a few too many beers (or wines) while enjoying a variety of musical and cultural performances. If you’re up for learning a few tricks and tips, head over to one of the workshops and classes held by world-renowned master chefs.
When To Go
OK, everyone thinks Hobart is freezing and, compared with much of the rest of the country, it is. Snow is reasonably common on Mount Wellington in winter and from June to October you’re likely to experience more wet days than dry ones.
But, the temperatures aren’t as bad as all that, averaging 8°C in winter, 16°C in spring, 22°C in summer and 13°C in autumn. Dress appropriately and you’ll still have a ball.
What To Miss
If you’re up for a bushwalk, make sure to wear sensible clothing and closed shoes as Tassie is home to some of deadliest critters in Oz.
Some suburbs including Moonah, Derwent Park, Gagebrook and Clarendon Vale can be a little unsafe at night, so it’s best to keep away if you’re alone and unfamiliar with the area.
Getting There And AroundBeing an island, you’re limited to two options – flying directly into Hobart or taking the Melbourne to Launceston ferry and driving down. Many mainlanders choose the latter option because of the freedom it gives them, but Metro Tasmania provides great bus services if you prefer to go public.
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