You could argue that after days sleeping in a tent and eating freeze-dried meals on the Overland Track, any place with a proper bed and nice food ought to please. Tasmania’s capital city, certainly did, but spending a weekend in Hobart would do so regardless of whether you’ve been camping beforehand or not. The port city is located at the mouth of the Derwent River to the backdrop of kunanyi/Mt Wellington, a 1271m-high basalt monolith, popular for walking and mountain biking.
Hobart is small but packed with heritage charm. The tales of tens of thousands of convicts transported to Van Diemens Land, the original name used by many Europeans for Tasmania in the early 1800s, their success stories – take Henry Jones IXL (‘I excel in everything I do’) company – and the happy, carefree mood of a university town, combined, created a very unique atmosphere. Within walking distance of the historic waterfront precinct is Battery Point. This is Hobart’s oldest and prettiest suburb, raised on a small promontory south of the harbor, with historic houses dating from the first European settlement of ‘Hobart Town’. Here you’ll also find Salamanca Place, Georgian sandstone warehouses built in the 1820s and 30s, that nowadays house galleries displaying the works of contemporary local artists. Unfortunately, we missed out on Salamanca Market, Australia’s largest open-air market taking place on Saturdays, and Farm Gate Market on Bathurst Street on Sundays.
The gastro scene has apparently improved much in Hobart, and the restaurants, cafes and delis we visited were indeed really good. If the great selection of award-winning Tassie whisky and craft beer in our mini bar at the Macq01 is anything to go by, the microbreweries and whisky distilleries in the Hobart region are also worth a visit.
For a perfect weekend in Hobart, I suggest you spend two days in the city itself, and on the third rent a car and discover the award-winning vineyards, chocolatiers and creameries in nearby Coal River Valley, on the Southern Wine Trail, and Richmond. The latter, 30 minutes east of Hobart, is a small historic village and well known for Australia’s oldest stone arch bridge, built by convict labor, as well as being home to the oldest Catholic Church. Richmond is no bigger than a couple of pretty streets, lined with boutiques, galleries, and a gorgeous traditional-style lolly shop, in heritage buildings of the Georgian style of architecture, dating back as far as the 1820s and well worth the visit.
On our drive back through the Coal River Valley, I couldn’t help draw the comparison with two other wine regions, Marlborough in New Zealand, and the Yarra Valley in Australia. The wineries and vineyards in the Coal River Valley were much smaller, less commercial but equally popular – especially Coal Valley Vineyard, Frogmore Creek and Riversdale Estate.
We stopped for local produce, Coolgardie Cottage honey, olive oil, pick-your-own strawberries, and Wicked Cheese Brie along the way, that made for an excellent picnic in the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Top 10 Things to do in Hobart, Tasmania
- Mt Wellington / kuranyi
- Historic waterfront
- Battery Point, Hobart’s oldest suburb
- Salamanca Place
- Salamanca Market on Saturdays
- Farm Gate Market on Sundays
- Coal River Valley on the Southern Wine Trail
- Small historic village of Richmond
- Excellent restaurants, cafes and delis
- Royal Botanical Gardens
Tried & Liked
A luxurious storytelling hotel on the waterfront with amazing views of the harbor.
A small Italian restaurant that though very noisy served excellent food; make sure you book the ‘window seats’ seating area if you don’t want to perch on very uncomfortable looking stools without backs around a communal table or the bar.
Burger joint and pub at 5 Knopwood St offers good burgers in a beer garden setting and decommissioned bus.
Daci & Daci Bakery
Their olive bread and macaroons are heavenly.
Jackman & McRoss
Bakery and tearoom at 57-59 Hampden Rd with great coffee and baked goods.
Pollen Tea Room
Small cafe offering lovely organic vegetarian food.