Twelve kilometres north of Hobart’s city centre, MONA is burrowed into the Triassic sandstone of a peninsula jutting into the Derwent River. Arrayed across three underground levels, the $75-million museum created by local philanthropist-owner David Walsh mixes ancient antiquities among contemporary artworks. It’s sexy, provocative, disturbing and deeply engaging – don’t miss it.
To get here, catch the MONA ferry (return standard/posh $22/55) or MONA Roma shuttle bus ($22) from Hobart’s Brooke St Pier.
Every Saturday since 1972, the open-air Salamanca Market has filled the tree-lined expanses of Salamanca Pl with more than 300 stalls. Fresh organic produce, secondhand clothes and books, tacky tourist souvenirs, ceramics and woodwork, cheap sunglasses, antiques, exuberant buskers, quality food and drink…it’s all here, but people-watching is the real name of the game.
A free shuttle bus runs between various stops in the city and the market every 10 minutes between 9am and 2pm (see the website for stop details). On foot, the market is around 10 minutes from the city centre.
This picturesque row of three- and four-storey sandstone warehouses is a classic example of Australian colonial architecture. Dating back to the whaling days of the 1830s, Salamanca Pl was then the waterfront – goods were winched from the upper levels of the warehouses directly onto ships. By the mid-20th century many of the warehouses had fallen into ruin, before restorations began in the 1970s. These days Salamanca hosts myriad restaurants, cafes, bars and shops, and the unmissable Saturday Salamanca Market.
Tucked in behind Salamanca Pl, the old maritime village of Battery Point is a tight nest of lanes and 19th-century cottages. Spend an afternoon exploring: stumble up Kelly’s Steps from Salamanca Pl and wander through Princes Park, where the gun battery of the suburb’s name stood, protecting Hobart Town from nautical threats both real and imagined. Spin around picturesque Arthur Circus, refuel in Hampden Rd’s cafes, then ogle St George’s Anglican Church – the tower was designed by a convict architect.
The Elizabeth St strip in North Hobart (aka NoHo) is lined with dozens of cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs – enough to keep you coming back meal after drink after meal.To get here, it’s about a 1.5kmwalk from the city centre up gently sloping Elizabeth St, or jump on almost any bus numbered between 500 and 562 from the city centre.
Ribbed with its striking Organ Pipes cliffs, kunanyi/Mt Wellington (1271m) towers over Hobart like a benevolent overlord. The view from the top stretches over Hobart and much of the state’s south, and the slopes are laced with walking trails. Mountain bikers come for the North South Track, descending from the Springs to Glenorchy, while you can also coast down the sealed summit road on a bike with Mt Wellington Descent. The Hobart Shuttle Bus Company also runs daily two-hour tours to the summit.
Mawson’s Huts Replica on the city’s waterfront brings to life the story of our greatest polar explorer, who set off from Hobart for his famous 1911-14 expedition. Mawson lost two companions and almost died in an astonishing battle to survive. While the originals still exist at Cape Denison, Hobart’s huts are identical copies down to the matches, stove and bunk beds.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Located on Hobart’s historic waterfront, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) has recently undergone a spectacular $30 million redevelopment. TMAG has something to offer visitors of all ages and interests whether you are family seeking an educational and engaging experience, a tourist seeking to discover more about Tasmania’s history or an art lover.
Visitors can now experience more of this unique site than ever before, including a fascinating range of nationally significant archaeological material, some of which has been hidden for over 150 years.
Join a free guided tour or browse the galleries to experience TMAG’s rich blend of permanent collections, touring and temporary exhibitions and special displays.Admission is free but donations are always welcome.
Cascades Female Factory Historic Site
This World Heritage Site was where Hobart’s female convicts were incarcerated and put to work. Around 12,500 women were transported to Tasmania, and at its height the Cascades Female Factory held 1200 women – more convicts than Port Arthur ever held at a time. You can explore the hauntingly spare yards with their interpretive installations independently, or take a guided Heritage Tour or the excellent Her Story dramatisation.
Standing in startling, Gothic isolation next to the clean-running Hobart Rivulet, Australia’s oldest brewery (1824) is still pumping out superb beers. The daily one-hour tours involve plenty of history, with tastings at the end. Note that under-16s aren’t permitted on the main brewery tour (take the family-friendly Beer School tour instead), and that brewery machinery might not be running if you’re here on a weekend.
Port Arthur Historic Site
Listed as a World Heritage site, the Port Arthur Historic site is made up of 30 buildings, and was a penal facility used by the British Empire to send convicts to Australia. Many of the original buildings are ruins now, but you can still see and explore the penitentiary, the Hospital, the Separate Prison and the Convict Church. If you have time, go for one of the guided tours of the Isle of the Dead Cemetery or the Point Puer Boy’s Prison, both located on separate islands from the main site. Port Arthur also has the longest running Ghost Tour in Australia, an after dark tour and history of paranormal experiences that have occurred on the site.
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
Opened in 1818, the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens is a 14 hectare site home to many historic and native Tasmanian plants. It has many important conservation projects and also houses the world’s only Subantarctic Plant House. The Subantarctic Plant House has been built to replicate the climate and look of Macquarie Island, and houses flora collected mainly from the island. Come to the Botanical Gardens to discover and enjoy plants and flora native to Tasmania, and spend a relaxing day admiring your surroundings. The gardens are located on the Queens Domain, and is an easy 25 minute walk from the centre of Hobart.
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
Just half an hour away from the centre of Hobart, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary offers visitors the chance to get up close and personal with a range of native Tasmanian animals, such as namesake Tasmanian devil, wombats, bettongs, and wallabies. This is a great trip for all animal lovers, and for kids especially. If you can, visit Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary at night for a night tour, where you’ll be guided around the Sanctuary in small groups and have the chance to feed many of their animals. The night tour is quite pricey, but if you’re an animal person it’s definitely a unique opportunity to learn about and meet some of Tasmania’s wildlife.
Farm Gate Markets
Existing on a smaller scale than Salamanca, the Farm Gate Markets are held every Sunday morning and distinguish themselves by being only open to local producers. An inner city street is closed off to host them and set up with some seating and live music to add to the atmosphere.
The State Cinema
When it’s just too miserable to be outside, step inside the iconic State Cinema. It’s been in business for more than 100 years, but faced an uncertain future in the 1980s and 1990s. Now it’s got an art-house focus with multiple screens (there’s even one on the roof), cafe, bar and bookshop. The seats are snug and comfy and there’s a more intimate feel than at your modern megaplex.
A 90-minute drive south of Hobart will bring you to Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs. Formed millions of years ago, the giant dolomite caves were discovered in 1917 by timber workers. Today you can take a 45 minute guided cave and swim in the thermal pool. Fed by an underground spring, the water is a perfect 28C all year round.
Russell Falls is arguably Tasmania’s prettiest waterfall; it’s certainly Tasmania’s most photographed and one of the easiest to get to.The falls are in Mt Field National Park, part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Wilderness Area, just over a 1-hr drive from Hobart. One of three falls that share the same watercourse, Russell Falls has a unique character and is the centrepiece of the park.
The 20-minute return walk to the falls is on a good track and boardwalk through lovely rainforest. The walk passes through towering swamp gums and species typical of wet forests and cool temperate rainforests such as dogwood, musk and myrtle. Closer to the falls the track is framed by stunning tall tree ferns.
Richmond is a picture-perfect town in the heart of the Coal River Valley wine region that tells the story of an early Australian colonial village. This is the perfect place to learn about Tasmania’s past and can be as easy as a stroll down the pretty nineteenth century streets.
Richmond has more than 50 Georgian buildings, many beautifully restored and now operating as cafes, restaurants, galleries and accommodation.
The town’s most photographed landmark is the Richmond Bridge. Built by convicts in the 1820s, it’s the oldest bridge in Australia and offers a perfect picnic spot on the grassy banks of the Coal River.