Tasmania may look small on the map, but it’s teeming with things to see and do, especially in and around Hobart.
The great thing about road-tripping around Tassie is that you don’t have to drive too far from place to place. From Strahan on the west coast we travel about 300km through picturesque countryside before arriving at the historic capital of Hobart.
Nestled amongst the foothills of the imposing Mt Wellington, Hobart is Australia’s second-oldest city. The first European settlement began in 1803 as a penal colony at Risdon Cove on the eastern shores of the Derwent River. In 1804 the settlement was moved to a better location at the present site of Hobart at Sullivans Cove.
The region’s indigenous occupants were members of the semi-nomadic Mouheneener tribe. The local aboriginal population was severely diminished after violent conflict with the European settlers, and the effects of diseases brought by them.
Britain’s jails continued to overflow in the 1820s and during this period, thousands of convicts were shipped to Hobart to serve their sentences in dreadful conditions.
By the 1850s the city was packed with sailors, soldiers, whalers, prostitutes and ratbags openly boozing, fighting and ‘courting’ in and around many harbourside taverns.
Times have certainly changed but Hobart continues to provide revellers and ratbags with a good time. Today, the waterfront is still thriving with cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants. Nearby, Salamanca Place also hosts a myriad of dining and drinking options as well as numerous shops and galleries. The charming row of four-storey sandstone warehouses along Salamanca date back to the 1830s when it was the hub of Hobart’s trade and business.
Connecting Salamanca Place to the old maritime village of Battery Point is Kelly’s Steps. Built in 1839 and named after James Kelly (the Australian explorer) the steps are somewhat of a local architectural landmark. You can easily spend an afternoon discovering the tight network of lanes and winding streets around Battery Point. Many of the 19th-century houses have been converted into trendy eateries, galleries and accommodation.